Customers often ask us how we manage to get our plants looking so lush, green and healthy. The simple answer is: "Plant green side up, water well until established and feed each year at the end of the flowering period."
Some plants need a little more care and attention than others and some are quite particular about where in the garden they are grown. We have tried to give a few details in each of the plant descriptions but you'll find more below about our specials.
Many of the varieties in circulation were named by Lady Susan Garnett Botfield who lived at Albrighton in Shropshire.
When Border Alpines first started selling plants we had our nursery at Chetwynd Aston nr Newport in Shropshire which was about 15 minutes from Albrighton. We loved these colourful plants and soon discovered how to grow and care for them and built up an incredible collection, although after one dreadfully wet and very cold Spring not long after we started we nearly lost them all! We persevered however and continued to introduce new varieties onto the market, you may see other nurseries selling our introductions, such as Jupiter and Goya.
When people see these beautiful plants in full flower and find out they come from South Africa they wonder whether they are hardy, the simple answer is Yes! We have grown them in Shropshire and down here in Devon and we have customers in North Yorkshire and Scotland who have great success.
Rhodohypoxis are easy to grow if one or two rules are adhered to, and many of our flower show customers have returned to us excited to find that they have eventually succeeded to bring them through a wet winter by following our rules.
When growing in the ground outside the drainage should be improved by adding plenty of grit with a neutral to acid compost, limey soils should be avoided.The drainage is mainly to help the plant during the Winter months when it can tend to be very wet and cold.During the Summer months when the plant is flowering it prefers not to dry out, keeping the plant flowering all Summer. Dead heading of spent flowers will also help with the continuous flowering.
Rhodohypoxis are also very easy to grow in containers, same soil conditions and plenty of water during the growing season, but I would say that after the end of September slowly let the container dry out, and then keep dry all through the Winter. A good date to remember to start the corms back into growth is Valentines Day 14th February when you have been storing them in a cold greenhouse. In fact I nicknamed one of our customers my Valentine man because I had suggested that he start watering his pots of Rhodohypoxis when he bought a bouquet for his wife on Valentines day, and whenever I see him at a show he is always greeted with his nickname 'Mr Valentine'. A good tip when storing your pots of Rhodohypoxis over winter is to cover them, the mice love them and will devastate a pot overnight. For this reason I also recommend growing in terracotta rather than plastic, the mice will chew through a plastic pot to get at the corms. Storing under the bench of the greenhouse or in a porch or garage is fine. Finally when groing in pots I suggest you repot regularly as the plant does not like to be pot bound, they are hungry plants that like to spread their wings. Feeding with a high potash liquid feed is perfect.
We have been growing these beautiful plants for many years but it is only fairly recently that we have started to retail them. Our list is conservative but we shall endeavour to add to the it annually. Whist some are grown for their flower many are worth growing just for their lovely foliage which continues long after the plants have stopped flowering.
Most epimediums require similar conditions of moist, free draining humus rich soil and cool shade. They will however grow in sunnier positions but not full sun, providing the ground is not too dry and some varieties will tolerate dry shade. Remember, like all plants, we must try to mimic the conditions that plants enjoy in the wild. Epimediums are woodlanders and so are mulched by fallen leaves and they thrive in well drained yet moist, fertile soil in dappled shade.
We have kept all our plants in pots since moving to Devon and with regular watering they seem to be thriving and flowering well. We cut back all the foliage at the end of the winter to allow the fresh new growth to come through unimpeded and this also means the flowers can be seen more easily, especially the ones which are more reluctant to show us their blooms.
In the ground these beautiful plants will multiply readily.
Geraniums are Carl’s special passion. He has raised more than a few varieties which deserve a place in any garden. Take a look at our list of hardy geraniums to see some of the varieties raised here at Border Alpines.
“It wasn’t always my intention to breed plants. I wonder how many breeders can say that it was? But owning and running a nursery has been my passion for the past 30 years. Border Alpines is now situated in North Devon (South West England) although it started out in Shropshire before we made the move south to warmer climes and less annual rainfall. Our rural inland situation suits us – sheltered from the prevailing winds but close enough to the coast to be able to enjoy the Atlantic breakers year round.
The joy of discovering a new seedling – geranium, iris or astrantia – never loses its wonder. Patience is, of course, required and the wait for a flower can sometimes stretch to two or three growing seasons but that first bud always holds excitement and expectation in equal measure. I am rarely disappointed, even if the colour or size or markings turn out not to live up to initial hopes. I just love growing plants and don’t ever seem to have enough room to put them all.
Geraniums in the cinereum group are a particular favourite of mine. Successful commercial plants need to be easy, hardy and floriferous. Hardy geraniums tick all the boxes.
The concept of registering new plants was introduced to me a number of years ago by an old friend, Chris Sanders, an acknowledged authority within the RHS and avid collector of plants. A regular visitor to the nursery in Shropshire, he would share our excitement over a new find.
Our collection of a few old favourites and many recent hybrids, some having been raised here at Border Alpines, will provide summer long colour. They can be grown in most soil types in a sunny site or dappled shade. Only if your soil is very heavy will you need to improve drainage and structure, simply incorporate a combination of sharp sand and grit, well-rotted fine bark and plenty of organic material e.g. spent mushroom compost, old grow bag compost, farmyard manure or composted kitchen waste. Dig through when conditions are favorable. This technique together with raising the growing bed with light imported top soil favours all alpines.”
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