JOHN’S JOURNAL

Create Your Own Miniature Alpine Garden

More often than not space can be an issue in a garden, they can soon fill up with only select places to introduce new plants and at this time of year you can literally watch plants growing! But plants come in all shapes and sizes remember and one group of plants which seem to have been out of the ‘Limelight’ for some time are the Alpines

The Nursery at Holden Clough was established in 1927 by a keen plantsman called Richard Milne-Redhead and the nursery specialised in Alpine plants, row after row of terracotta pots lined the The Frameyard, all sunk into the sand and with Alpine Houses, Rock Gardens and Troughs it was a real showcase of how to grow Alpines. Then in the late 1900’s the popularity of these plants began to slide and demand also fell, the range at Holden Clough also grew to encompass lots ot other types of plants but as they saying goes, ‘what goes around comes around’, and it’s now time to start educating you all on how something so beautiful can be achieved in such a small place.

At the nursery we planted a selection of Hungarian Galvanised pots up as little rock gardens and as you will see in the photo above they look beautiful, some Alpine plants only take up the space of the size of your hand and some are even smaller, space is at a premium nowadays in so many gardens so they are perfect, because they don’t grow fast you can also trim them and easily keep larger growing varieties in check. They love to get the morning sun and then a little shade in the afternoon so east facing is perfect and they also like a free draining soil. Mix together 1 part John Innes No.3 with 1 part grit sand or horticultural grit to improve drainage and also to imitate the ‘poor soil’ they would naturally grow in in their natural environment. The key is also to introduce some rocks and small stones into the planting to imitate their undulating landscape, and you then top-dress with a fine grit or gravel, you can even introduce small stepping stones as ‘fairy’ paths and other features that will get children’s minds really ticking!

The frost also never bothers them as they are one of the hardiest plants around and they also look great any time of the year giving interest to a patio or corner of a garden and if you want to create something on a bigger scale then thats where a slope or banking comes in perfect and you can create a larger Rock Garden. At the nursery you will find a frame filled with Alpines of all shapes and sizes from the miniature succulents up to the carpet forming trailing varieties, they really are a delight and something to be embraced.

 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Here you can send in and find out the answers to those gardening problems

Do I feed Alpines?

They generally want to be left to their own devices and feeding risks encouraging them to grow out of character, so you only feed if they are looking like they need a little pep up after flowering, just use a Tomato liquid feed every 2-3 weeks until they look happy again, always stop once you see new healthy grown appearing.

How do you propagate Alpines?

It’s often a case of taking little cuttings, getting in with a sharp knife and then teasing away little offsets from the parent plant, you will often find little roots already appearing, you can then place these in little plugs or around the edge of a pot and then pot them up once they’ve begun to establish roots.

What Alpines will grow in full sun?

You need to choose ones with the fleshy leaves like Sempervivums, Sedums and other succulents, these are used to being in very dry conditions as they store water in their leaves and they can also tolerate the bright light. Other varieties will also grow in full sun just check their individual requirements, all of them happily grow in half a day’s sun.

JOBS FOR THE WEEKEND

 

Plant of The Week

Sempervivums

Commonly known as Houseleeks and they are a hardy succulent, lots of succulents grow inside and these are the outside version. Available in a  whole host of colours and shapes and sizes with even hairy spiders web like rosettes. Great for sunny conditions and will give interest all year round.