Cyrtanthus epiphyticus
Cyrtanthus epiphyticus

I had an enjoyable, although warm, day today at the local national Alpine Garden Society show.  Long term readers will know that I have a growing fascination with alpines and have started showing myself in the Novice section.  Today I added a first, two seconds and three thirds to my tally; however I have a way together before I can exhibit the quality of plants I am going to share in this post.  I thought I would show you why I love the world of alpine showing.

Androcymbium striatum
Androcymbium striatum

Whilst there are the cushion plants that many of us associate with the term alpines and plants such as the many campanulas and hardy succulents it is the other categories that draw my attention.  Firstly I have a passion for bulbs.  I think this is  progression of my enjoyment of growing plants from seed.  I get excited to see plants germinated and I get the same thrill when a bulb first appears above the soil.  Also I think bulbs are more suited to my lifestyle as I can store them away in their dormant period and this makes life more manageable for me.  But to be honest it is the beauty and exotic nature of the flowers that really appeal – who couldn’t resist the amazing orange of the Cyrtanthus epiphyticus above.

Allium kurtzianum
Allium kurtzianum

Take this amazing pot of Allium kurtzianum – the flowers remind me of some mad fluorescent ’70s outfit.  I do like the small Alliums and won a first today with Allium sikkimense which has vibrant blue flowers. I am now on a quest to source the Allium kurtzianum.

Ledebouria ovatifolia
Ledebouria ovatifolia

Another bulb I have never heard of and how pretty is this.  I love the broad leaves with the flowers nestling in them.  Yet another one for the very long list.

Pinus mugo 'Sea Urchin'
Pinus mugo ‘Sea Urchin’

Moving on from my first love bulbs we have the conifers which are creeping into my affections and interest.  My friend Brenda and I were particularly taken with this Pinus mugo ‘Sea urchin’ which we felt really lived up to its name.  I bought some dwarf shrubs today as this is the second group of plants I want to focus on.  They are very slow growing and tend to look after themselves most of the year so again should work well for me.

Cheilanthes tomentosa
Cheilanthes tomentosa

My third group to focus on should come as no surprise – ferns.  The more I look at ferns the more I am amazed at the variety not just of leaf form, colour but also growing environment.  I have bought so many this year that I made a conscious effort not to buy any more today.  However, I have identified some of this year’s purchases which might do well in pots and be acceptable for showing.

Saxifraga longifolia
Saxifraga longifolia

Finally Brenda’s Saxifraga with which she won her first First in the Open section (that’s as the top class).  Like me she has been exhibiting in the novice section but today has earned enough firsts to move up.  However, there is nothing stopping any one entering a plant into any of the categories or levels if they think it is good enough and her gamble paid off.  She was beaming all afternoon, even more so when she won a lovely shiny trophy for the most points in the Novice section.

So this is why I love the world of alpines – there is so much variety, exquisite plants you will probably struggle to find outside of the alpine showing world and great passionate people who are only too happy to pass on tips and encourage you to have a go.

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