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Alpines

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The Royal Horticultural Society and the Alpine Garden Society define an alpine as any plant suitable  to be grown outdoor in a rockery, or in an unheated alpine-house (cold greenhouse), or frame. This includes all dwarf plants, which are hardy enough to be grown in gardens throughout the British Isles.

Purists will define alpines as plants growing above the tree line, which in the Alps is 5/7000 feet(1500/2000m) and 10/12000 feet (3/3.6000m) in the Andes. Odd though it may seem, many of the high altitude alpines do not thrive outdoors in the British Isles and are usually found growing in alpine houses. This is due to their being covered with a layer of frozen snow during the winter months, giving them a cold, but frozen-dry, winters rest. In this country winter, rain and inconsistent temperatures will often cause the plants to rot.

 Even so, there are a number of high altitude alpines suitable for most well drained rockeries and if we combine these with the numerous dwarf perennials and shrubs, which grow below the tree line you will find an enormous variety of plants from which to choose. There are also a very wide range of very dwarf conifers to choose from, many having originated as ‘Witches Brooms’ (dwarf abnormal branches) on larger growing species.

 Alpines and mountainside plants require good drainage. Many grow in the crevices of rocks, or even on broken rock screes. If you have visited alpine areas you will realize the reason they manage to survive during the growing season, is due to the melting snow, which gives them a constant supply of water. In addition, the evergreen forms have prostrate, or dome shaped habit and foliage, which is thick and waxy, or hair covered to help reduce desiccation by cold wind.

 Many rockeries are badly constructed, usually a pile of surplus stones are covered with soil and then pieces of rock jammed in. Rain and frost will cause the soil to settle, usually downhill, leaving the roots of the topmost plants exposed. Such mounds also dry out quickly during the summer months so that only the deep rooted or succulent species survive. Always build a rockery from the bottom upwards, by first setting in rocks to form an irregular wall, with the occasional outcrop, then infill with 50/50 loam and sharp gravel. A second tier of rock can then be added leaving 9/12 inch (22/30cm) almost flat planting pockets. If room allows add further tiers. A surface mulch of pea gravel will not only ensure the surface around the plant is well drained, but when it rains, it will also prevent foliage and flowers being splashed with soil.

 Many alpines, dwarf shrubs and conifers are evergreen; these will give year around effect. Deciduous alpines will need their dead removing during the late autumn, if allowed to remain it will rot and often affect the crown of the plant. Most dwarf alpines resent competition from weeds and other rampant plants. Evergreen rosette forming plants such as silvered Saxifrages will die if a thick layer of weeds envelopes th s and dwarf conifers are suitable for growing in troughs and other containers, and can look very effective when placed on a patio. Always ensure that containers have drainage holes in the bottom, also a lay of broken crocks, or gravel to give added drainage. Fill the containers with 75 per cent John Innes No3 compost mixed with 25 per cent sharp gravel. A two-inch (5cm) layer of gravel or slate will not only add to a containers attraction, but also help to prevent vine weevil beetles from laying their eggs in the soil.

 Dwarf conifers and late summer flowering shrubs can be pruned in April and early flowering shrubs as soon as they have finished flowering. With evergreens, only prune back to where there are still leafs and growing buds. If pruned into old, hard wood they will often die.

 We are not alpine specialists, but grow a wide range of dwarf conifers and shrubs, which are available year round. A good range of alpines (or should we say rockery plants) are also available from April to late summer.

Please bear in mind that the plants listed may not be available at all times of the year. Email enquiries@goscote.co.uk for details of specific plant availability.

A  
Anchusa azurea 'Dropmore'  ---
Erect perennial with a green rosette of basal leaves. During early summer spires of rich blue flowers appear lasting until August. Requires a fertile, moist, but well drained soil in sun. Height 2 to 2.5 feet.
Andromeda polifolia   ---
Evergreen, open, twiggy shrub bearing terminal clusters of pitcher shaped, deep pink flowers in spring and early summer. Glossy, dark green leaves are leathery and lance shaped. Requires full sun and moist acidic soil. Height 1 foot.  Spread 15 inches.
Andromeda polifolia 'Alba'  ---
Evergreen, open, twiggy shrub bearing terminal clusters of pitcher shaped, white flowers in spring and early summer. Glossy, dark green leaves are leathery and lance shaped. Requires full sun and moist acidic soil. Height 1 foot.  Spread 15 inches.
Andromeda polifolia 'Compacta'  award
Evergreen, compact, twiggy shrub that bears delicate, terminal clusters of pitcher-shaped coral pink flowers, with white undertones, in spring and early summer. Leaves are lance shaped and glossy, dark green. Requires full sun and moist acidic soil. Height 1 foot.
Andromeda polifolia 'Grandiflora'  ---
A dwarf evergreen shrub with narrow green leaves and clusters of small pendulous pink flowers in April & May. Requires a moist, acid, peaty soil in sun. Height 1.5 feet.
Andromeda polifolia 'Kirigamine'  ---
Dwarf, compact evergreen shrub with green-grey leaves and clusters of pink flowers in May. Requires a moist, peaty soil in sun or part shade. Height 9 inches.
Andromeda polifolia 'Macrophylla'  award
A lovely dwarf evergreen shrub whose narrow grey-green leaves are white beneath. Clusters of deep pink flowers in May and June. Requires a moist, peaty soil in sun or part shade. Height 12 inches.
Andromeda polifolia 'Nana'  ---
Dwarf evergreen shrub with grey-green foliage and clusters of pale pink flowers in May. Requires a moist, peaty soil in sun or part shade. Height 9 inches.
Andromeda polifolia 'Nikko'  ---
A very neat, compact, dwarf evergreen shrub which forms a tight mound of narrow blue-green leaves. Clusters of small, soft pink flowers in May and June. Requires a peaty, moist soil in sun or part shade. Height 9 inches.
Andromeda polifolia 'Shibutsu'  ---
A tiny, compact evergreen shrub with grey-green foliage and small pink flowers in April.  Requires a fertile, acid soil and mosture during the growing season.  Sun or part-shade.  Ht:  9 inches
Arabis alpina 'Schneehaube' (Snowcap)  ---
A dwarf alpine forming a hummock which is covered with pure white flowers in April/May. Ideal for rockeries, dry walls and banks.  Will grow in most fertile, well drained soils in sun.  Height:  9~
Arabis blepharophylla (Spring Charm)  ---
A very low growing perennial ideal to plant in a rockery or to edge a border.  Masses of carmine-pink flowers in April/May. Requires well drained soil in sun.  Ht: 6~
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi 'Vancouver Jade'  ---
Creeping evergreen shrub with small white tinted pink flowers in April and May followed by red berries in late summer.  Requires a peaty soil.  Best in a cool site in sun or shade.  Height 6 inches, spread 3 feet.
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi   ---
Evergreen, low-growing shrub with arching, intertwinning stems clothed in small, oval, bright green leaves. Bears urn-shaped, pinkish white flowers in summer followed by scarlet berries. Requires full sun and peaty soil. Height 6 inches by 3 feet.
Arctostaphylos x media 'Wood's Red'  ---
A prostrate evergreen shrub with small green leaves and small pink, bell-like flowers in April & May which are followed by red berries. Excellant ground cover. Requires a fertile, peaty soil and flowers better in sun. Height 9 inches by 3 feet spread.
C
Chamaedaphne calyculata 'Nana'  ---
An unusual, dwarf evergreen shrub with small leathery leaves and masses of white heath-like flowers in March and April. Requires a moist fertile, peaty soil in sun or part shade. Height 18 inches.
D
Diascia barberae 'Belmore Beauty'  ---
This is an outstanding perennial with golden variegared leaves. It displays masses of rich pink flower spikes all summer long. It requires sun or part shade, and a fertile soil which is not too dry. Height 10 inches, Spread 1 foot.
Diascia barberae 'Blackthorn Apricot'  award
Warm apricot pink spurred flowers makes this variety irresistible.  Prefers a warm spot with well drained soil.  Height 15-20cm.  Flowers June to September.
Diascia  'Coral Belle'  award
This perennial has a neat erect habit, and large vivid dark pink flowers throughout the summer. Prefers sun, and requires a fertile, well-drained soil, which is not too dry. Height 10 inches, Spread 1 foot.
Diascia  'Rupert Lambert'   
A perennial plant with neat and tidy upright foliage. Masses of warm pink flower spikes throughout the Summer. Prefers a sunny position which is not too dry, and requires a fertile well drained soil. Height 9 inches, Spread 7 inches. award
G  
Gaultheria cuneata   award
Evergreen, compact shrub. Stiff stems clothed in leathery, oval leaves. In summer bears  urn shaped, white flowers in leaf axils followed by white berries in summer (harmful if eaten). Partial shade and moist acidic soil.  Height 1 foot.  Spread 1 foot. 
Geranium sanguineum   ---
Hummock-forming, spreading perennial with many cup-shaped, deep magenta-pink flowers borne in summer above round, deeply divided, dark green leaves. Makes good ground cover. Requires full sun and well drained soil. Height 9 inches.  Spread 1 foot.
Geranium sanguineum var. striatum   
Hummock forming, spreading perennial that has cup shaped, pink flowers with darker veins borne singly in summer above round deeply divided dark green leaves.  Requires full sun and well drained soil.  Height 10-15cm. Spread 1 foot. award
H  
Helianthemum  'Chocolate Blotch'  ---
A prostrate, evergreen shrub with small, grey-green leaves and masses of buff coloured, chocolate blotched flowers during the summer. Requires a fertile, well drained soil in full sun. Ideal for rockeries and raised beds. Height 6 inches by 2 feet spread.
Helianthemum  'Salmon Queen'  ---
Prostrate evergreen with salmon-pink flowers from May to August.  Requires a well drained soil in full sun.  Height 15cm.
Hepatica transsilvanica    
Bears small blue starry blooms from February to April. Height 3 inches. Spread 12 inches. Requires a well drained but damp soil. Prefers sun or partial shade. award
I  
Iris foetidissima   award
Native Gladwin Iris which forms a dense clump of green leaves which smell of roast beef when crushed. Lilac-green flowers followed by seed pods which display orange seeds. A flower arranger's must. Will grow in most fertile soils in sun or part shade. Height 1.5 to 2 feet.
Iris sibirica 'Perry's Blue'  ---
Blue beardless variety from June to July. Requires full sun.Ideal to grow at the side of a pool. Harmful if eaten. Height 3 feet.  Spread 1 foot.
L
Leptinella squalida   ---
Fern-like creeper with bronze-green leaves and small pale yellow, button-like flowers in summer. Requires a slightly acid, freely drained soil in sun. Excellent ground cover between stepping stones. Height 2 to 3 inches.  Spread 2 feet.
Lewisia  Cotyledon Hybrids  ---
Evergreen, clump forming perennials with rosettes of large, thick, toothed leaves. In early summer bears clusters of flowers on erect stems which can be either shades of pink, purple or white. Requires partial shade and well drained acidic soil. Best planted in a rockery on its side. Height in flower 6 inches.
Lithodora diffusa 'Alba'  ---
Prostrate evergreen shrub which is massed with white flowers from April to June. Requires a fertile peaty soil in sun or part shade. Height 9 inches by 2 feet spread.
Lithodora diffusa 'Grace Ward'  award
A superb, prostrate evergreen with dark green leaves and masses of small gentian blue and white flowers in May & June, and usually, flushes right through to September. Requires a fertile slightly acidic soil in sun or part shade. Height 6 inches by 2 feet wide.
Lithodora diffusa 'Heavenly Blue'   
A superb, prostrate evergreen with dark green leaves and masses of small gentian blue flowers in May & June, and usually, flushes right through to September. Requires a fertile slightly acid soil in sun or part shade.  Height 6 inches by 2 feet wide. award
M  
Morisia monanthos   ---
Attractive alpine with masses of gold flowers in April and May.  Ideal rockery plant.  Requires a well drained soil in sun.  Height 3 inches.
P
Persicaria affinis 'Darjeeling Red'  award
Was Polygonum. Tiny deep pink flowers are borne on long spikes. Requires any reasonable garden soil. Thrives best in shade.  Height 1 foot.  Spread 2 foot. 
Pimelea prostrata   ---
Superb medium sized evergren shrub with dark, almost black twigs and platinum silver-edged leaves. Superb for cut foliage/flower arranging. Requires a fertile, well drained soil in sun. Shelter from cold winds. Height 6 to 8 feet.
Polygala chamaebuxus var. grandiflora  award
A dwarf evergreen alpine shrub whose pea-like flowers have purple wings and a yellow keel.  Requires a cool position in the garden or rockery and a moist slightly acid soil.  Height 2 inches by 1 foot across in 10 years.
Primula denticulata    
Yellow-eyed lavender flowers on 3 inch globular heads March to May. Reasonable garden soil containing some  organic matter. Thrives in partial shade.  Height 1 foot.  Spread 1 foot.  award
R  
Raoulia hookerii 'Makara'  ---
Superb, prostrate, evergreen New Zealand native which has attractive, dense, silver foliage, dotted with small yellow flowers in July and August. Excellent rockery plant. Requires a fertile, but very well drained soil in sun. Height 1 inch.  Spread 2 feet.
Rhodohypoxis baurii 'Alba'  ---
Perennial with tuber like root stock and an erect, basal, tuft of narrowly lance shaped hairy leaves. Bears a succession of erect, white flowers singly on slender stems in spring and early summer. Requires full sun and well drained soil.  Height 2 to 4 inches. 
Rhodohypoxis baurii 'Albrighton'  ---
Perennial with tuber like root stock and an erect, basal, tuft of narrowly lance shaped hairy leaves. Bears a succession of erect, deep pink flowers singly on slender stems in spring and early summer. Requires full sun and well drained soil.  Height 5-10cm.  Spread 5cm. 
Rhodohypoxis baurii 'Douglas'  ---
Perennial with tuber like root stock and an erect, basal, tuft of narrowly lance shaped hairy leaves. Bears a succession of upright, flatish red flowers singly on slender stems in spring and early summer.  Requires full sun and well drained soil.  Height 5-10cm.  Spread 5cm.
Rhodohypoxis baurii 'Margaret Rose'  ---
Perennial with tuber like root stock and an erect, basal tuft of narrowly lance shaped, hairy leaves. Bears a succession of upright, flattish, pale pink flowers on slenders tems in spring and early summer. Requires full sun and well drained soil.  Height 10cm.  Spread 5cm. 
Rhodothamnus chamaecistus   ---
Evergreen, low-growing, dwarf shrub with narrow, oval leaves, edged with bristles. In late spring and early summer bears cup shaped rose pink flowers, with dark stamens in leaf axils. Requires full sun and well drained acidic soil.  Height 15-20cm.  Spread to 25cm. 
S
Salix  'Boydii'  award
A very hardy dwarf gnarled shrub with grey-green foliage.  Requires a well drained but fertile soil making it ideal for rockeries, troughs and tubs. Best in sun or light shade. Height 2 feet in ten years.
Salix helvetica   award
Deciduous shrub with superb silvery-grey foliage and cream catkins in the spring. Will grow in most fertile soils in sun or part shade. Ideal for the smaller garden. Height 5 to 6 feet.
Saponaria ocymoides   award
A vigorous, mat forming perennial with bright green leaves and masses of pink flowers in summer. Will grow in most fertile soils in sun or part shade. Height 3 to 6 inches
Saxifraga umbrosa   ---
London Pride'. Makes superb ground cover, fleshy leaves in large rosettes are toothed and spoon shaped. Flowers are upright and borne in loose panicles of white stars flushed pink during the summer. Good in sun or shade. Height 1 foot.
Saxifraga  'Mossy Mixed'  ---
Tight evergreen mounds of green leaves with white or pink flowers in May.  Requires a well drained soil in sun.  Height 3 to 6 inches.
Sedum rupestre 'Angelina'  ---
A very hardy, evergreen perennial with strong golden foliage in the summer which turns orangey during cold weather.  Provides excellent ground cover, Requires a well drained fertile soil in sun.  Height 10 inches, spread 20 inches.
Sedum spurium 'Coccineum'  ---
Useful plant for poor soils in full sun forming a carpet of lush evergreen leaves and dark pink flowers in July and August.  Height 6 inches.