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Buy alpines

Container planted with alpines in June

The attraction of buying alpines for your garden:

Alpines take up only a small space in your garden and that means you can have a quite a number of plants in:

  • a really small city courtyard,
  • window boxes,
  • containers,
  • a small bed by the front door,
  • a raised bed on the patio,
  • your pathways, (yes you can get ones that don’t mind being trodden on!), or
  • the front of your borders.
Container planted with alpines in June
Container planted with alpines in June

 

Guidelines for buying alpines regarding looking good all the year:

In your small space you need to buy alpines that together have interest the whole year round.

The first challenge is getting a few plants that look great through the winter time.
A good place to start is by looking at our evergreen plants – which means they won’t look totally dead in the winter!
So the first tip is to buy alpine plants that look good in the winter.

The second most difficult season is the autumn, so buy some alpines that look good then – our list of autumn flowering plants has a surprising number of alpines.

As far as alpines are concerned it is easy to find many that will flower in the spring, so buy the alpines that are on our spring flowering list.

That now only leaves the summer time, and again there are many alpines, so choose from our summer flowering list.

Guidelines for what alpines to buy regarding sizes:

If your planting space is really small, then consider buying alpines from our really compact 5cm wide to 20cm wide range.
It gets frustrating when you’ve planted your compact alpines and then you buy one that turns out to be a real thug and completely smothers the other alpines!

You may have a little more space and you could buy the alpines from our fairly compact 25cm wide to 30cm wide range.

Wooden raised bed with alpines and gravel
Wooden raised bed with alpines and gravel

 

When buying alpines remember to think about how much sunshine your area has:

Basically there are three different sites:

Guidelines for buying alpines regarding soil:

If you are planting alpines in a container, then you will need to buy a compost to fill it.
Avoid the compost that is full of very fine particles, or that is based on sedge peat, because the drainage will not be good and it can cause the roots to rot.
If you go for a peat based or other non-soil based compost it will dry out quickly, so buy some soil based compost to mix in with it.

If you are planting alpines in your garden, it is always good to incorporate some soil improver so that it improves the drainage and gives the soil some more organic matter.
If you have a clay soil then you will need to buy alpines from our plants for clay soils list.

So if you haven’t got massive plans for your entire garden, then you could concentrate on the little spaces nearest to your doorways, or pathways, or patio.
It’s amazing how much pleasure a few plants can bring to your life!

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Ornamental grasses for winter interest

Trentham Gardens in January

There are some great plant combination ideas at the Trentham Estate.

The Dutch plantsman, Piet Oudolf, designed the ‘Rivers of Grass’ and the ‘Floral Labyrinth’ at Trentham Gardens.

In the ‘Rivers of Grass’ area he planted two varieties of Molinia in large groups, one being Molinia Edith Dudszus.

Molinia’s change to a hay colour through the winter and so give interest with them swaying in the breeze.

He also planted Stipa gigantea which are impressive, large, architectural plants.

See our Ornamental Grasses range.

 

Trentham in January
Trentham in January
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Wide border in clay soil with a small wildlife pond

Deep flower border with pond

Here’s a colourful border in early summer with a small wildlife pond (in the centre of the photo).

The soil had a fair amount of clay in it and things like Thymes would not survive over winter, but as you can see from the list below, there are quite a number of alpines that cope with these conditions.

For a bigger picture see it at our Facebook page.

Deep flower border with pond

Why not have a go at creating a new flower border, or revamp an old one, in a similar style to this one?

So here is the list of the most obvious plants that make up this flower bed.
Firstly the foreground:

Next line back and the middle:

Background plants:

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How to plant a flower border – VIDEO

How to plant a border, marking out the bed

This 2 minute video at the bottom of this page, shows you some tips to planting up a flower bed.

If the area has perennial weeds in it, like couch grass, nettles, thistles, docks. creeping buttercup, etc then the easiest and most effective way is to spray it with a weedkiller like Roundup which is not a really nasty chemical.
If you don’t want to use any chemicals, then every bit of root will have to be picked out while you are digging.

How to plant a border, marking out the bed
How to plant a border

The video covers:

  • Using soil improver (our local Council tip sells it – made from the green waste we throw away) which is much more environment friendly than using peat based ones.
  • Digging the bed.
  • Marking out the area with canes into one metre squares and following a plan.
  • Planting – remembering to separate the roots to enable them to quickly grow into the new soil.
  • Covering with gravel (or ornamental bark).