It's a very exciting time now for the Alpine plant collection here at Harlow Carr, a great number of the earliest flowering plants are waking up and beginning to flower. It really feels like Spring is just around the corner! The Saxifrages are some of the first to flower and one of the nicest is 'Karel Capek', which has quite large peach flowers that last for ages.
Whilst the new alpine house is being landscaped, there is a temporary display of the alpine plants in the glasshouse next to the study centre at the bottom of the garden. After the rather bleak months of December and January I now have a good choice of flowering plants and the display is looking really colourful. There are some lovely early bulbs coming into flower and most of the colours are very vibrant, yellow, pink, purple and blue. Narcissus 'Cedric Morris' is still going strong and has been flowering since late November last year, the flowers are sterile and so don't go over quickly as they can't set seed. The photos at the front of the display were taken in Austria when I joined The Saxifrage Society on their trip to the Karawanken. It was fab to see the plants in their natural habitat, it really made me appreciate how alpine plants have evolved to thrive in such a harsh environment.
Some of the smaller pots are 'double potted', which helps to keep the pot from drying out too quickly and keeps the roots cool, it works like a mini sand plunge. Galanthus 'Sandersii' is quite a small snowdrop and unusually the normally green parts on the flower are yellow.
I can't wait to start displaying plants in the new alpine house, the landscaping is coming on really well and there are some huge rocks in place. There is still a long way to go but you really get a feel for how it will look, I'm looking forward to planting into all the cracks and crevices!