April 6, 2006

Sax in the city- The Alpine House in Bloom

Silver saxifrage growing in tufa rock, an alpine jewel from the highest peaks.
In the tiny, greenhouse which I call the Alpine house the Saxifrages, often refered to as 'Sax's' by rock gradeners, are blooming. The plants that have been plunged in the raised alluminum sand beds, and virtually frozen solid from late Novemeber until February, are starting to bloom. I keep a mixture of alpines, but as I have said before what really seems to respond well are all silver Saxifraga and some Androsace (a Primula relative which grows in a dense bun shape, challenging to gorw, but one can have some success with them in America, not like thier other similar and more fussy relative, Dyonisia). ALl of these Alpines can be orderd only during two times during the year,, many o fmine come in an autumn shipment, when I pot them up in a gravely, fast draining soil, top dress with granite chips, and plunge into the sandbed. You can also order them in the early spring. I will talk more about alpine this weekend, but if you want something different for your deck, why not plant a trough, or a strawberry pot or even a window pot of alpines. Check back and find out more.

Alpine house plants
My alpine house plunge bed in full glory.
Silly, I know, but yes, I do mix up what grows in the Alpine house with more unconventional alpine house plants. I like to move blooming specimens from the larger glass greenhouse to this more open-air, hence - cooler - house, when they re in bloom in the spring, since the glass house can become hot, near 90 deg. F in the spring sun, even with the vents open. Managing a collection in such a way does have its benefits. One can have Rhodohypoxis baurii (The Hot pink flowers on the left), a tiny clustering bulb (corm) plant that is as easy as pie, when grown in shallow pans, in bloom at the same time as plants native to the high Iitalian alps.

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