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Rock and Alpine Gardening: lapland diapensia and alpine azalea

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ceeadsalaskazone3
Seward, AK

October 8, 2006
8:32 AM

Post #2796346

Todd, Galanthophile or anyone else in the know... do you have any tips on preserving my rescued lapland diapensia and alpine azalea? (I'm almost sure of the identification, but won't know for certain until spring bloom.) They were collected on the tundra/ mountain area of Central Alaska. The main concern is the more humid and rainy contition here in Seward. I do have hypertufa troughs I have made over the years. Following is an excerpt of a thread I had left on the SEED SAVING forum a few days ago:

We got back from our yearly hunting trip on the 26th of Sept., bagging 240 birds of which 73 were ptarmigan and the rest spruce hens ,135 grayling, only 2 rainbow trout, 6 gallons of mossberries, 2 gallons of highbush cranberries, 2 gallons of blueberries. There were: myself, my dad, Mac, son, John, sister, Ava, daughter, Tonya and dad's girlfriend Rita Selden. We stayed 10 days and covered the Lake Louise area, the Denali Highway and the McCarthy road (camping just outside Chitina.) We took 2 motor homes and three 4 wheel drive vehicles for hunting. The six of us had a great time with few breakdowns or repairs. (mostly to the older model motor homes) I collected what I think were lapland diapensia and alpine azalea which had been dislodged by fourwheelers on sideroads on the Denali Hiway. Those off-roaders sure don't look before they spin their wheels! I can't wait till spring when the specimens bloom to really identify them! When we went north on the 10th, we got into another weather system which came in from the north and was drier and little cooler, although we only had a couple of nights of frost on the Denali. Right past the Matanuska Glacier and Caribou Creek about the Gunsight Mountain area we passed this weather front. Carol


This message was edited Oct 8, 2006 12:35 PM
Todd_Boland
St. John's, NL
(Zone 5b)



October 13, 2006
1:29 PM

Post #2813156

Hi Carol,

Diapensia is extremely difficult in cultivation. Loiseleuria is a bit easier. Locally, both of these grow in very damp, foggy regions of Newfoundland where there may be 60" or more rain per year. However, they are exposed to strong winds and in winter, only a skim of snow remains over the plants. They grow in quite gravelly soil so despite the rain, the soil is very well-drained. High summer temps will bake them quickly. Troughs may be the way to go but provide protection from excess snow and rain in winter and keep them in a cool, windy site in summer. The soil media should be acidic...fine crushed granite or sandstone in a peat-based mix should work well. We grow both of these species in the alpine house at our botanical garden. Outside, we have always lost them.

rannveig

(Zone 5a)

October 13, 2006
10:16 PM

Post #2814666

Plants that like it cool and wet - sounds like something that would grow well here! I just looked them up and indeed they do - both are native plants here:-) Never tried to grow them in my garden though.
ceeadsalaskazone3
Seward, AK

October 14, 2006
1:25 AM

Post #2815134

Thanks Todd, since I posted last we've had a flood here in Seward and my greenhouse was flooded over the bottom beds. To give you an indication of the height of water a chair had a flood line about shoulder height inside the greenhouse. I was separated from home for two days for lack of access untill the flood subsided. Amazingly the plants I collected on the Denali Hiway were in flat plastic trays and they were floating around inside the greenhouse! What a sight! The trays are bright blue and they were like rectangular lifeboats or strange water lilies with all my treasures from up north floating around! Thanks for the info, I'll use hypertufa troughs of a deep nature for these treasures. That should keep them from drying out and I'll winter them in the greenhouse. (We're 3 days into cleanup after the flood) Just in for a moment from damage control... will post more later, again thank you... Carol

Tammy

Tammy
Barto, PA
(Zone 6b)

October 14, 2006
1:22 PM

Post #2816249

Oh Carol! I'm sorry to hear about your flood. I had my greenhouse flooded in 2004 - the water was over
3' high in there. There was about 2-3" of mud on the floor. Like you, miraculously the section of a bench
that had my most prized treasures floated up and the leg got stuck on the greenhouse edge so that the
plants on top were kept above the water. I did lose a lot and it was horrible to clean out but when I was all
done, I had extra space for new plants & my greenhouse was cleaner than it'd been in a few years.

I wish you the very best in cleaning out that mess! Did you get flooded in your home too?

Tam
ceeadsalaskazone3
Seward, AK

October 14, 2006
5:21 PM

Post #2816793

Tam, no loss of life and my house is up on pilings so no water in there or in my 2 story chicken house.. the water just barely got up to the floor level there but not inside. My woodshed, shop and back porch are the real cleanup sites. And that's just my stuff. All around me devastation. The river (Salmon CreeK) was 6 to 8 feet over flood level which means a lot when you can usually walk across it. Today will be the woodshed cleaning... Taking each piece of firewood, hosing it off, putting in in a wheelbarrow, taking loads inside to dry by the woodstove. Doesn't sound like much, huh? Will report somemore later... Carol

Tammy

Tammy
Barto, PA
(Zone 6b)

October 14, 2006
6:04 PM

Post #2816894

Carol! I guess you were prepared w.r.t. house & chickens. Can't imagine all that clean up.
And its getting cold now too - or are you still warmed by the gulf stream?
Tam
rannveig

(Zone 5a)

October 14, 2006
8:51 PM

Post #2817232

Carol - sorry to hear about the flooding - a good thing that you didn't suffer great damage and that your treasures floated safely in the greenhouse :-)
ceeadsalaskazone3
Seward, AK

October 14, 2006
10:32 PM

Post #2817421

Thanks Tam and Rann, still in the 40's and 50's daytime and low 30's at night, so you're right, not much time 'til freeze up and limited clean up after that. Nothing compared to the great Mississippi river flood not so long ago. It's back breaking work, but I sleep well all night! I see in Iceland your zone is well above mine here in Alaska, what are your temps this time of year?
In Alaska this type of thing is pretty much run of the mill, our conflicts are mostly with weather, the land, wildlife and machinery. I prefer this to conflicting with people like much of the rest of the world... Carol
UUallace
Cincinnati, OH

October 14, 2006
10:36 PM

Post #2817438

Great, I am not the only one with Loiseleuria.
Rannveig
I flew over your new island in 1998. Any new ones since?
Larry
rannveig

(Zone 5a)

October 17, 2006
5:19 PM

Post #2825452

Temps here are about the same ...we had our first hard frost last night and today the temps have been in the upper 30's. Iceland doesn't really fit into the zone system - the winters are mild but the summers are very short and cool, probably closer to zone 3 ... so maybe it evens out to around zone 5 ... still a lot of plants that grow in zone 5 need longer summers than here.

Larry - i'm not aware of any new islands forming since 1963 - when Surtsey was formed. Are you referring to that one?
UUallace
Cincinnati, OH

October 17, 2006
6:11 PM

Post #2825620

I had the window seat flying out of Keflavik. The couple next to me were from Heimay Island. I could see the shore of Heimay and some small islands. Everything was greyish with a light dusting of snow, except one jet black island. They said it was new.
Todd_Boland
St. John's, NL
(Zone 5b)



October 18, 2006
11:21 PM

Post #2829759

Sorry to hear about the flooding Carol. I have never experienced flooding in my neighbourhood but there are places in St. John's that have had basements flood, but never any worse than that. Its been unseasonally dry here. Usually October is rain, rain, rain leading into Novembers colder rain, rain, slush then Decembers slush, snow, snow! I can't imagine a house on stilts!

We had our first frost last night when it dropped to 32 F and today only reached the high 40's. Suppose to be around 50 for the rest of the week and rain for the next 4 days...maybe we will catch up on our lack of rain afterall! I planted some bulbs today and the ground is surprisingly dry.

Rannveig, you have more-or-less the same native plants as we do..at least the same as we have in northern Newfoundland, which as the crow flies, is not really that far apart...if Vikings could make it, so can a few seeds! I imagine you could grow some beautiful Loiseleuria and Diapensia in your garden...much to the dismay of the rest of us. You should be able to grow some fantastic Meconopsis in your climate...they grow them beautifully in Tromso.
rannveig

(Zone 5a)

October 19, 2006
11:08 AM

Post #2830955

Todd - it never even occured to me to grow Loiseleuria and Diapensia - but I think I might if I find seed from it! I have Dryas octopetala that I've been raising from seed - it grows all around the lava fields in and around my neighborhood. I also have Silene acaulis that's a common plant everywhere - very pretty, but it needs very good drainage - it pretty much needs to grow in gravel to do well. Meconopsis grows very well here, I have one that flowered for the first time this summer - so pretty :-) Is there a Tromso in New Foundland or are you referring to Tromso in Norway??

Larry - that is interesting... I must have missed it on the news - I hadn't heard of any new island forming around Heimaey.
Todd_Boland
St. John's, NL
(Zone 5b)



October 20, 2006
10:04 AM

Post #2834170

I was referring to Tromso, Norway. We had the curator of the Tromso BG speak to our rock garden group last year. They had some amazing plants growing there and they have just as cool summers as you. They certainly do very well with Himalayan alpines that burn up in warmer climates...even in Newfoundland which is far from warm. I have Silene acaulis in my garden...so far so good. It is native here as well.

Thumbnail by Todd_Boland
Click the image for an enlarged view.

rannveig

(Zone 5a)

October 20, 2006
10:24 AM

Post #2834181

Wow Todd - that is a nice one! Mine aren't that big yet ... sure hope they'll get that pretty one day :-) Many Himalayan alpines do really well here. I'm very interested in growing as many alpines from the Himalayans as I can get my hands on - especially the gorgeous Paraquilegia anemonoides :-) But what Tromso has that we don't is a decent snowcover during the winter. Many of the alpines don't like the wet winters here in the south of Iceland - they do better in the North. With good drainage and all the christmas trees I can get my hands on in January to cover them up - they've done OK in my raised bed though. I haven't lost many since I started collecting christmas trees around the neighborhood to use as a cover - they neighbors probably think I'm weird but they do the job nicely :-)

Tammy

Tammy
Barto, PA
(Zone 6b)

October 20, 2006
11:30 AM

Post #2834237

That's an old picture, right Todd? ITs gorgeous!
Tam
Weezingreens
Seward, AK
(Zone 3b)


October 20, 2006
5:33 PM

Post #2835255

Carol, I have some of the tiny shale gravel that came with some plants Deana gave me. Plants seem to grow remarkably well in it, and it might offer alternative medium for some of the native plants that like moisture, but good drainage. As you probably know, Deana grows plants in gravel and adds nutrients when she waters them. I suppose they sustain themselves with those nutrients and with the decayed foliage from the previous year... just compost, some nutrients and gravel, but her plants do well. The only mulch she uses is snow, and as you know, we really can't count on a good snow cover here in Seward.

Reading this thread, I can see that I need to create a couple good alpine gardens, as well as a dedicated alpine greenhouse of some sort. Our weather is far too wet for some of those plants that grow well in interior Alaska. I've managed to grow pasque flower from seed, but it doesn't seem to winter over outdoors... too wet?

By the way, I have just harvested fresh Meconopsis seed and put it in the freezer, if any of you are interested. I have both betonicifolia and 'Lingholm'. One of my betonicifolia turned out to be white, and though I collected that seed separately, the plants were in close proximity, so some white plants may occur.

Thumbnail by Weezingreens
Click the image for an enlarged view.

rannveig

(Zone 5a)

October 20, 2006
7:49 PM

Post #2835657

Weez - was your Pasque flower Pulsatilla vulgaris? They grow pretty well here - although I think they prefer good drainage - so I'd have thought they'd grow for you too. The winters here are very wet as well but the christmas tree branches do a really nice job to get tender plants through winter. I also found that after I raised my alpine bed the drainage improved a lot and the plants grew much better. Nice photo of the Blue poppies :-)
Weezingreens
Seward, AK
(Zone 3b)


October 20, 2006
11:36 PM

Post #2836352

I'm not absolutely sure which pasque flower it was, rannveig. I grew them from seed that were collected in the Yukon Territory, so they are native to the dry, sandy interior Alaska conditions, not our rainy, chilly conditions. Most all my beds are raised. It allows for better drainage, keeps the soil warmer in the summer, and it prevents precious topsoil from washing away.

Ceeads' troughs are wonderful. I've been trying to get together with her to make some for myself, but the summers are so busy for me that it is hard to find a day or two I can dedicate to the project. She grows some wonderful little alpines, many of which are native to Alaska. Here's one of her round hypertufa pots with a little 'beef cake'.

Thumbnail by Weezingreens
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Tammy

Tammy
Barto, PA
(Zone 6b)

October 21, 2006
12:01 AM

Post #2836414

Weez,

I put a cover over my rock garden during the winter to keep the rain off.
(We put a small break over a little hemlock so it gets some moisture).
That helps with the wet winters.

Tam
Todd_Boland
St. John's, NL
(Zone 5b)



October 21, 2006
12:03 AM

Post #2836419

Being a native Pulsatilla, it was either P. patens if mauve or narcissiflora is taller and white. Those are the native alaska species. P. vulgaris is the easiest to grow pretty much everywhere but patens prefers the climate of western North America.

Yes Tammy, that pic of my Silene was from last June.

Weezing, you grow fantastic Meconopsis...we struggle with them here. I had one that grew well enough for 6 years then died. Ever since, I've tried but I cannot get them to survive the winter anymore.

Rannveig, I forgot about the snow situation in Tromso...yes they get several feet that lasts consistently all winter.
Weezingreens
Seward, AK
(Zone 3b)


October 21, 2006
12:16 AM

Post #2836450

I haven't really asked Ceeads what she does with her pots and troughs in the winter. I know some things go into her greenhouse, but the troughs are pretty heavy to move around. I cover several of my beds with mulch, then plastic. This is especially important in the beds that I store my potted plants, since the early spring rains fill up the pots, but the frozen ground underneath prohibits drainage.

Thanks, Todd. Yes, we can grow Meconopsis. Even so, some of my customers here do not seem to have good luck with them. I am still struggling with growing them from seed. Every spring, I head up to the Matanuska Valley to purchase these beauties from The Blue Poppy Farm. The live up high on a hillside, and the back decline of their yard is filled with Meconopsis. Many are volunteer plants. They grow M. betonicifolia and M. 'Lingholm'. I buy about 30 plants from them and sell them all before the end of June. There summers are much hotter than ours, and their winters much colder. Which species have you tried?
Todd_Boland
St. John's, NL
(Zone 5b)



October 21, 2006
10:49 PM

Post #2838618

Betonicifolia survived 6 years but not since. I've had little luck in getting other species to germinate although I have tried several. I did buy a horridula locally but it died over the winter, as did a sheldonii. Its really a heart-break.
Weezingreens
Seward, AK
(Zone 3b)


October 22, 2006
4:12 PM

Post #2840085

Well, betonicifolia seems to be the hardiest for me, but the Lingholms do quite well. They are an established mix of sheldonii and something else, but the seeds are quite viable and come back true. I think that Meconopsis seeds need to be fresh or frozen until sown. I've had my best sucesses winter sowing them, but it is important to keep them moist, but well-drained, even after germination. Keeping the seedlings going is the greatest issue for me. I get too busy to keep them going, I guess. You're more than welcome to seeds, if you'd like to give them another try, Todd.
ceeadsalaskazone3
Seward, AK

October 22, 2006
7:38 PM

Post #2840537

Todd, that Silene acaulis is just beautiful! You and Weez are half the reason I lurk on Dave's. Weez, sorry about not getting back to you, this flood caused me to be back working on the flagging job six days, 10 hours per. Lots of repair on the hiway. Exciting times this fall... Our excellent hunting trip, came back with pneumonia, then the flood and 4 days of exhausting clean up and now back to work for a couple of two or three weeks, meanwhile my freezer went kaput on the back porch from flooding. So today, Sunday, my only day off I must put all the berries I collected into juice form and store them in the fridge 'til I can make them into jellies. Still, I have glads, cactus, ivies, palm, dalhias... you know the drill... before freezing. That will be in the next day or so. I had brought the hypertufa troughs into the greenhouse (upper shelf, about 18 inches above flooding) before the flood, so they are dry and winter ready. My greenhouse is like an alpine house in the sense it's not airtight. I has openings at the roofline between every rafter and plenty of other openings which keep the temperature down on very sunny days. I thought of just a roof, but you know how the wind and snow is horizontal at times in the winter. Maybe in your protected location, but here I would have to have at least two walls, maybe three.
My Pulsatilla vulgaris has lived for about 4 years, but you know how I keep pots up on tables and in good drainage. Even raised beds like you have don't seem to be raised enough to keep water from puddling in my yard, so container gardening has saved many, many plants I would have lost over the years. It's good for me to try both and my next garden (when I move over by Ava's next year) will reflect all I've learned so far in building beds much higher with a rock and gravel base. I think that will keep the grasses from invading, too. I plan a rock garden in a long row with the top at eye level and fairly steep sides with my collected boulders and rocks (all at the limit of my lifting ability) for ease of tending and viewing. Well, back to the berries... Carol
Todd_Boland
St. John's, NL
(Zone 5b)



October 22, 2006
9:41 PM

Post #2840750

Carol, an alpine house setting like you seem to have is ideal for many alpines. At our BG we have an alpine house and grow many alpines in pots...they need repotting every 2 years into frsh soil but can live for many years if treated this way. Ideal for the dryland plants and those that hate winter wet such as Lewisia.

Weez, if you have any spare Meconopsis seed, I wouldn't mind thrying them again. I think fresh seed is the trick. If sent soon, I can plant them before we freeze and they can have the winter outside that they prefer. I have betonicifolia once more (small plants that will overwinter in the coldframe) but would love to try the Lingholms as I've never tried those.
Leftwood
Saint Bonifacius, MN
(Zone 4a)

October 23, 2006
1:07 AM

Post #2841326

Weez, our MN native Pulsatilla patens are the palest mauve, and some could be mistaken for white. Just an FYI, if you try to key your Yukon natives.

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