Alpines in April

Submitted by cohan on

Lets see if the forum lets me post photos now... gave up after a while on my last visit- got some funny error message and was referred to some 3rd party policing agency which I never heard back from...


Only a few rock gardens are (almost) fully  out of the snow, and those were largely shovelled!- others showing some peaks, with a bit of fresh snow yesterday/today, and maybe some more over the next couple of days...

I'll just try one photo to start to see if I'm allowed...

Sedum spathuligolium Cape Blanco according to the tag- garden centre plant from last year- though it seems a bit too strongly coloured for that clone? I think there is another name for the really purple forms.. anyway, I wasn't at all sure it would be hardy, but it is looking good so far, though sometimes spring is as dangerous as winter.

Sedum spathulifolium Cape Blanco Sedum spathulifolium Cape Blanco

Sedum spathulifolium Cape Blanco
Sedum spathulifolium Cape Blanco


Submitted by cohan on Wed, 04/16/2014 - 16:47

Gee, seems to have worked! Not sure if this one is quite an alpine or not? but these didn't fit in the flowering now category...

Also a garden centre purchase last year, as Delosperma nubigenum- I forget now what this should really be, some of these small hardy delos are not even delos....looks like it made the winter..

Delosperma 'nubigenum'


Bought last year- these are cropping up for sale everywhere the last couple of years, currently available in little ceramic ducks and other pots for Easter- Campanula Get Mee (not fond of that name! is it even a cultivar, or just a marketing plan for the regular species??)  Campanula portenschlagiana. It was planted out rather late, I think but flowered in ground anyway, and looks like it is set to take off quickly, even though it is not long out of the snow. Supposedly they can be rather spready, but I've given it a spot where it's welcome to make a nice patch..

Campanula 'Get Mee'  Campanula portenschlagiana


Delosperma 'nubigenum'
Campanula 'Get Mee'  Campanula portenschlagiana

I had a bit of a disaster last spring with Draba seeds- I put the pots outside, in baggies while it was still cool out.. The seeds started germinating en masse and then either they got too hot in the baggies on a warm day or too cold on a cold night (probably the former, being Drabas) and were mostly wiped out.. luckily a few survived, or maybe they were just late germinators. in any case, I got a few per pot of several species... maybe just as well, I would have had a bit more of a time accomodating all those seedlings. though wouldn't have minded a few

I got these second hand from another forumist (thanks, Krish!), and I'm not totally sure of the origin- garden/exchange whatever.. so I guess time will tell if they are true to type, and I will have to see if I can tell what all the seedlings are, as there were more plants than

These should be Draba dedeana.. rosettes are under 1 inch across.. there was a hint of buds showing as soon as the snow melted...

Draba dedeana Draba dedeana


This one is tagged as Draba aizoides.

Draba aizoides Draba aizoides


Not sure what tag thse belong to, I think the third option is Draba brunifolia, but they could also be more can tell I don't know these well

Draba Draba



Draba dedeana
Draba dedeana
Draba aizoides
Draba aizoides

Well done with Sedum spathulifolium 'Cape Blanco' - I've never had that survive the winter here.

Things are melting out again after yet another snow fall.

Some pics... Buds on a not-very-hardy Draba - it's always about half dead in spring; Silene acaulis leafing out; buds on Saxifraga kusnezowiana which is apparently a variety of S. juniperifolia:


Buds on a variety of things, starting with Smelowskia calycina - not sure if these will really have any merit in the garden; Androsace lactea; Saxifraga oppositifolia:


Thlaspi bellidifolia seedling from 2013; rabbit-nipped Saxifraga sancta; Rhodiola rhodantha:


Orostachys spinosa and Arabis procurrens 'Variegata'; Erigeron trifidus(?) or maybe it's just some sort of E. compositus?; Draba tomentosa:


Synthyris pinnnatifida v. canescens (apparently now S. dissecta) - I hoped there'd be some action from it this year but no sign of buds yet.

I was curious whether the Sedum was hardy in Calgary.. this is my first time trying it..

Always interesting to see what you have growing- lots of cool things there!  Even if you decide the Smelowskia calycina  isn't a keeper, I'd be interested in seeds if it makes any..

That's some colour on that Arabis! I got a small plant of A caucasica locally last year, it was severely munched by something- I suppose flea beetles since those are what goes after Brassicaceae? It survived, but didn't look great for a time... will see if it survived and how it does this year.. maybe I need to find a little Allium to plant with it..

Interesting... my Cheirantus roseus get attacked in spring by what I've assumed are some miniscule sort of flea beetle.  No blooms as a result - guess I should try covering them.

I could certainly send you some of the Arabis if you like it, and should be able to get seed of Smelowskia, too, either from my plants or from the wild.

I presumed flea beetles based on something I read on a heritage vegetable website. Doing a bit more reading now, I was surprised to see they (different species, I guess) can attack a range of plants- i've only seen them on Brassicaceae here- the Arabis, mustard plants and some Chinese vegetable like tatsoi in the vegetable garden. We don't usually get too many insects out of control here since we have so many other insects to eat them, and a lot of birds, but these plants were all quite heavily affected in spite of not being planted in large numbers are near to one another, nor in monocultures.

Ironically, many of the recommendations for control are actually counterproductive, from a permaculture perspective: keeping a bare area around plantings and making sure there is no plant litter on the ground for them to overwinter in. This means you will also remove any habitat for beneficial insects, so when the flea beetles arrive and breed fast, you are guaranteed that the beneficial insects will be unable to breed fast enough to be of use... I will be ignoring those

Of more interest were recommendations to plant Apiaceae- flowers of that family, as well as composites, are known to be supporters of beneficial insects. Maybe one of the best ideas for the rock garden as opposed to veg patch, was to plant Iberis near affected plants! Probably more useful in the veg garden is the suggestion to plant some of their favourite plants to draw them away from cole crops etc-- though not so sure if that will work when their favourites (eg mustard) are what I wanted to Maybe I will have to grow mustards as a fall crop, since they diminish later in the year...

Waving a fly paper or sticky trap over a plant is supposed to work very well, and all the usual home made sprays- garlic/onions/chiles/mint etc.. I wonder if planting Alliums and /or Labiatae would work as well.. garlic and /or mint spray and waving some sticky traps over the plants would probably be my first efforts...


By the way, a piece of the Arabis would be great, thanks! I guess they grow from cuttings?


Submitted by RickR on Fri, 04/18/2014 - 21:36

One of the ways garlic and onion sprays work is to mask the scent of the plant material it's applied to.   The idea is that then the pest insects aren't attracted to the host plants so they don't find them, rather than the garlic/onion releling them.  If this is the case, planting garlic or onions near won't work.  I guess you'll need to test it out, Cohan.

There's a theory that mixed plantings help to confuse insects looking for specific plants, and that proximity to scented plants such as Alliums gives enough scent masking to help deter pests, and some even theorise that plants are exchanging chemicals in the rhizosphere. Can't remember now whether there is any solid science behind this, but I think the more varied the plantings the better anyway! Of course I'd try to find some nice miniature Alliums for the rock garden, which is a good objective anyway!... Meantime, I'm more likely to spray some garlic to be safe while the polyculture is established ;)

Submitted by IMYoung on Thu, 04/24/2014 - 15:36

Cohan - good to see your plants are re-appearing from under the snow at last.


Lori : "Synthyris pinnnatifida v. canescens (apparently now S. dissecta) - I hoped there'd be some action from it this year but no sign of buds yet."

It's still early in the year for buds, I hope .Good luck!

Thanks, Maggi!  I'll keep an eye on it.  The buds are continuing to develop on Synthyris platycarpa (a rich, dark purple now - but can't post any photos to the site this evening for some reason) - hopefully, S. dissecta blooms a little later?  The first Pulsatilla patens and Hepatica nobilis are blooming now.... now if only it would stop snowing! 

Submitted by cohan on Thu, 04/24/2014 - 22:52

Maggi- it is exciting to simply see plants emerge after so many months, and more exciting yet to see recent plantings having survived :) I now have my first crocuses of the year flowering- photographed 2 on Wednesday, and I think several more opened on Thurs, but no chance for photos.. A couple of Drabas opening first tiny flowers too...

Not all good news though- one of my berms which had a number of Pulsatillas from seed starting to come along nicely seems to have been strongly occupied by voles during the long buried months, and most if not all of the Pulas seem to have been munched, along with Hieraciums and Geum coccineum... too soon to see what wil survive there- I think the species other than Pulsas may be okay, those seem likely to be largely toast- have to hope they re-seeded, as they were in flower last fall and I did not collect the seed. 

On the plus side, crocuses and Cory solida  in the same area seem to have been left alone, as were Cyclamen purpurascens... and in totally different beds, first ever for me buds on Pulsatilla vernalis and patens- both from Lori's seed years ago, they should have flowered years ago, probably, but it took a long time to get them planted out!

Lori- we got several hours of rain (less than originally forecast) out of the system tuesday night- wed ended up more sunny than not... no snow in the last few days, though more chances in the forecast!


Hi Cohan,

I often think that as you guys are discovering what survived the winter (and those burrowing varmints!) we are finding what has come through the summer drought and might come into flower. Just re-potting (very late, I know) some bulbs to discover pots that had a dozen or more stems last year are now empty or just one corm and lots of empty husks! What happened? I thought I kept them protected from summer rain (not that we had much) or did some critter get in? frown

Oh well, more room for new seedlings!cheeky



Submitted by cohan on Fri, 04/25/2014 - 12:07

I guess there are many reasons and occasions to lose As far as disappearing bulbs, I have some of that experience indoors can't say I quite have th ehang of the SA wintergrowing bulbs yet- some I suspect I have not kept quite wet enough in growth, and then in dormancy, who knows-- too dry? not dry enough?

Snow on the ground again today (ugghh)... a return to spring is forecast for Tuesday.

Here's an update on Synthyris platycarpa; Saxifraga kusnezowiana:


Two superb plants Lori. I had not been aware of Synthyris sp. until recently, when a friend asked if I could source some for him. He said they were wonderful plants, and now I can see why he is so keen, cool. Any cultural advice for him?

Nice to see your gardens thaw, Lori and Cohan!

Synthyris is a favorite genus which I struggle to establish in my garden!


Here are my "alpine garden" at my montane cabin (950m absl). Pictures taken last week (18.4.).

Campanula aucheri. It has survived several years but does not bloom much - 2-3 flowers at most. Still almost a foot of snow in the meadow above the bank.


My "alpine roof" has never been snow covered this winter. Only a few days with sub zero temperatures this winter and the spring started at least a month earlier than last year. Saxifraga oppositifolia is done weeks ago and another sax is on last verse as are the eariest Primulas but the auriculas are coming now.


[quote=Longma]I had not been aware of Synthyris sp. until recently, when a friend asked if I could source some for him. He said they were wonderful plants, and now I can see why he is so keen, cool. Any cultural advice for him?


Well, I'm afraid I don't have anything profound to say about it... I've only had Synthyris platycarpa since 2011 (one plant), and S. dissecta since 21013 (also one plant).  Having survived here at least this long, they seem to be very hardy plants that accommodate dry conditions. smiley  They get no particular care, planted outside in the tufa garden.

It snowed all day here yesterday,but dawned bright and clear so we are snow-free again (for a while?)   

A couple from today... Pulsatilla vernalis; Saxifraga oppositifolia with the flowers more open now.


Submitted by Longma on Mon, 04/28/2014 - 08:10

In reply to by Lori S.

Thanks anyway Lori. One thing I can say with certainty is that they are very difficult to find here, and seed from the usual places seems to be restricted to one or two species, so maybe they are not that easy to grow for the majority of folk. frown

Submitted by cohan on Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:27

We had some snowflakes the other day, but nothing on the ground. There has been more rain than usual at this time of year, but sunny today and some warmer days forecast before we go back to chilly with a risk of snow

Trond- still lots of snow on the ground here, in shady and low places.. my largest snow pile is down to 3-4 feet tall even though some other spots- sometimes just a few feet away- have been bare for weeks.


Some things flowering now in the rock gardens, but also some bad news: voles (under the snow over winter) seem to have mostly/wiped out the patch of Pulsatillas I was showing photos from last fall and then. to add insult to injury, the crocuses I was happy to see the voles had left alone- right beside the pulsas- were later munched after the snow was gone- probably the rabbit that has been hanging around the yard :(  I've scattered various aromatics in the hope it may discourage the munching.. we'll see... On the plus side, the Cory seedlings planted out in the fall, and Cyclamen p. in the area have been left alone.. remains to be seen what else that was on the berm with the Pulsas will show up- various Asteraceae, Geum etc..


There was a population explosion of voles(?) here too - the perennial beds in the back yard look like they've been rototilled. My Scilla mitschenkoana must have been delicious.  surprise   Oh well, I'm sure there's a ton of seedlings in there that will soon replace what's been eaten.  I imagine some seedlings I planted out last year have been buried by all the earth-moving too.

Cohan and Lori, sorry to hear about the damage done by the voles. Fortunately we have no voles here!

A bit colder today, only +3C (37F) this morning but even the oaks have leafed out now in the warm weather we have had! That is almost a month earlier than last year.