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Alpine and Rock Garden

A growing interest in hard landscaping and the continuous climate change is an inspiration for creating planting environments with rock and stone products, features that mimic high alpine habitats, or the sun-baked, stony soil of Mediterranean and desert environments.
Alpine plants are among the most interesting and sometime challenging plants that we can grow in our gardens. They might require a bit of expertise and dedication and some specialist equipment, but they can bring a piece of beauty of their native regions.
Whether you choose a traditional rock garden, or a simple gravelled bed or paved area studded with aromatic creeping plants and succulents, such features will bring many rewards to you as a plant enthusiast. However, there are many alpines that are easy to grow and tough too, making them excellent plants for containers and troughs, raised beds and gravel gardens and for planting into walls or among paving slabs.
A collection of alpines can be a joy, especially for the ones of us that possessed small gardens, as it enables many different sort of plants to be grown in a restricted space. For gardens with poor but well-drained, sandy soil, alpines are an ideal solution, as they enjoy the conditions of a wide, single bed, where they flourish and spread into large clump of tufts.
Because of their compact size it is possible to have a large selection of alpines in a comparatively small space, making them the ideal choice for a small garden, patios and even balconies, and those gardeners who want to collect plants without lots of heavy, manual work.
Most alpines require well-drained soil in order to thrive. Though hardy, many find it difficult to survive cold winters if their feet are damp and waterlogged. Gardens that have sandy, well-drained soils need only add well-rotted compost to improve fertility, but never add rotted manure as this is too strong for alpines. On heavy, waterlogged soils you need both to break up solid subsoil and add plenty of grit and organic matter to the topsoil. Where soils are totally unsuitable, consider using raised beds or sinks for your alpines.
Garden walls may be modified, if required, to provide excellent sites for alpines and rock garden plants. The walls of raised beds and those used to retain banks of earth on a terraced slope may be modified in the same way. If possible leave spaces, crevices, or cracks between the stones or brickwork during the construction of such walls so that these may be planted up when building is completed.
In their natural environment, alpines are plants that grow at high altitudes above the tree line. In gardening terms, alpines is used to include a vast range of low-growing rock garden plants that also include many bulbs, that may be grown successfully at relatively low altitudes. Their diminutive form and graceful habit make them suitable for grouping together in fascinating, brilliantly colored collections. Rock plants are simply those slow-growing plants of relatively small stature that are suitable in scale for growing in rock gardens.

Plant in a Dry-stone Wall

Alpines and rock garden plants may be grown in the crevices of dry-stone walls, and these include the retaining walls of raised beds and sloping banks. The most suitable plants to be grown in this way are trailing plants. If possible try to plan for any planting in walls before …

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Alpines in Pots

Alpines, usually require more attention than other plants, so growing them in pots ensures that special watering, compost or feeding requirements are provided for each plant.  You can grow them in plastic pots, which retain moisture well, or in clay posts, which are more attractive if you are going to exhibit your plants. In plastic pots, the soil dries out slower than in clay pots, so be careful not to overwater the plants grown in plastic pots. To prevent any further problem with diseases you should clean and sterilize all pots before you use them. To sterilize your pots you can use sterilants based on dilute solutions of sodium hyper-chlorite. Do not use tar-based disinfectants.

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Planting a trough

After you have found out in our building projects are how to make your own troughs now is time to find out how to plant them with alpine and rock garden plants to make them look nice and to attract the eyes.

Because the final planted trough will be maybe too heavy to move it around it is better to place it in its final position before it is filled. Find a warm and sunny spot for it. Troughs look best when they are raised on bricks or concrete blocks but make sure they are stable and will not tip over.

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Year-round Alpines Care

If you choose to plant alpines in your garden all you have to do is give them good growing conditions and they will ask very little from you and will provide all year interest in your garden. For taking good care of your alpines, here are some thinks that need to be done, by the season, in order to help you.

Spring care for alpines
In early spring weed thoroughly and take precautions against the slugs. Most of alpines are flowering in spring so the rock features that you use should look at their best now. This is also a perfect time to add new plants into your alpines if you want to make them look more spectacular. After flowering don't forget to take cuttings if you want to propagate your alpines, by using the soft, young shoots of the new growth. Root in pots of seed compost in a well ventilated cold frame in shade. It is better to propagate your alpines regularly so when the old plants are exhausted you will be able to replace them with new ones. In this period you can give them a light feed.

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sempervivum image

Sempervivum, also known on their common name as Houseleeks or Hens and Chicks, are succulent evergreen perennials that produce low, compact, evergreen, flower-like rosettes of succulent leaves. The plants send out numerous offsets, and spread in this manner to form a dense colony. The parent rosettes are the hens, and the smaller rosettes that spring from them are the chicks or chickens.

Although grown for its foliage, usually used in rock gardens, hens and chicks do flower. Flowers of up to half a metre develop on the branches and their colour vary from rose to pink. The foliage of hens and chicks plants are normally green at the base and reddish brown at the tip, all with close, rigid dented edges.

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Purple Saxifrage

pink-saxifraga image

Purple saxifrage or Purple mountain saxifrage, Saxifraga oppositifolia, is a species of cushion forming, growing to 3-5 cm high, hardy, evergreen perennial, alpine plant that produces attractive, cup-shaped flowers in spring. The flowers are solitary on short stalks, almost stemless, deep red-purple to pale pink or white, 10­15 mm across, growing above the cushion of small leaves.

It is one of the first spring flowering plants, often flowers while the snow is melting, continuing to flower during the whole summer in areas where the snow melts later. The leaves are small, 5 mm long, rounded, scale-like, opposite in 4 rows, fringed with tiny hairs to capture heat. This is an ideal plant for a rock garden or stone trough.

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edelweiss-flowers image

Edelweiss - Leontopodium alpinum, is one of the best-known European mountain flowers, belonging to the sunflower family. The name comes from German edel - meaning noble and weiss -meaning white. The scientific name, Leontopodium, means "lion's paw" and is derived from the Greek words leon - lion and podion - diminutive of pous, foot. Edelweiss flowers are quite rare in the wild and considered endangered in several countries.

Edelweiss are hardy perennials, alpine plants that can reach about 30 cm in height. They bloom from late spring throughout the summer and carries white stellar shaped flowers, like miniature, woolly starfish. Plants form a low clump of silvery grey foliage, lance shaped and woolly in nature. They are perfectly suitable for your rockery or border, best suited to growing in a well-drained rock garden or alpine trough that mimics their natural habitat.

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Aubrieta Deltoidea

magenta-aubrieta image

Rock Cress or Aubrieta, often called Aubretia is an evergreen, mat-forming, low-growing perennial, that only grow 15 cm in height, good for rock gardens, stone patios or between stepping stones or for hills and slopes, where is it difficult to grow grass or other plants.

Aubrieta makes a colorful splash in early spring, producing a profusion of fragrant flowers, almost covering the plant's dense mat of leaves. Cultivars of Aubrieta can have white, pink, magenta, lilac or crimson flowers and some of them can even have semi-double flowers or variegated leaves.

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