There is no doubt that the mid-spring to early summer months are the time when rock gardens are at their glory. After all, most rock gardens in north temperate regions feature alpines, plants that hail from high mountain regions where the growing season is short and plants have to bloom early to have time to set seed before the fall snows start. From mid-summer we rely heavily on foliage of the alpines to carry the display through until autumn. By September, if we want to have colour in the rockery, we rely primarily on the fall-flowering bulbs – Crocus, Colchicum and Cyclamen. However, there is one group of alpines that naturally bloom in September, October and even into November. Not only do they flower in fall, but their colour is spectacular, reflecting the intense blue of the autumn sky. Say hello to the Chinese autumn- flowering gentians!