Most people think Hostas for foliage, but in a rock garden, you have to think small. I grow a variety of saxifrages. I do get flowers for a few weeks, but the rest of the year I also have neat, small foliage plants. They look just as good in winter (when not covered in snow). Here's some suggested types: The first is saxifraga 'Tumbling Waters'
Saxifrages for foliage
Wow, Todd!!! Those are neat! I have a couple but don't think they are the same as the ones you posted. I wouldn't know which ones they are because the tags are buried in the snow....lol.
Mine are more than buried. Some have just a foot of snow but others are currently under nearly 4 feet!
I am amazed at the variety you have of these precious plants. Can you tell me a little about the culture and care you give them?? Soil, amendments, exposure, this type of thing would be very appreciated as I am planting my first Rock Garden this year and would be thrilled to have as healthy and varied plants of this genus as you do...any helpful hints would also be appreciated...:)
TIA ~ Jamie
ps. I LOVED your pics, seem to have forgotten that part of this post....LOL
These Saxifrages belong to the encrusted and kabschia groups. The encrusted group produced more upright stems with mostly white flowers. The Kabschias are nearly stemless and available in a mix of colours. All prefer cooler summer temps, so you might be OK (they may suffer when temps get above 85F). I know they do very well in Victoria and Vancouver, BC. They need full sun, but prefer some afternoon shade in hotter areas (I don't have to worry about that!). Most are lime-lovers so add liberable amounts to the growing area. They need a well-drained soil. I mix 3/8th inch chip stone in my rockery to improve the drainage. This is very important in wet climates like Newfoundland, and I assume, Washington coast. Don't skimp on the rocks in the rockery as these plants, like all alpines, like to nudge up against rocks. Anything else, just ask.
Thank-you for all your great info!! I don't seem to be able to find an alpine plant or rock gardening forum, so I really appreciate you taking the time to give such good info here.
I have am going to a feed store this weekend to get the type of rock you mentioned above...great tip that I had not done yet. Everything else is getting ready for my new little toys... I go pick out my larger rocks and 2-3 bigger stones at a great rock and gravel source in a couple weeks. As I look through the Siskiyou Rare Plant Nursery catalog I am drooling over the pages and pages of plants for rock gardens...Almost one full page of Saxifrages...so many plants....need a bigger rock garden bed...LOL! Do you know of any other good sources of alpine or rock garden plants by mail-order besides Siskiyou and Arrowhead Alpines?? Do you recommend any specific books on the subject?? What other plants do you have with the Saxifrages?? OK, OK enough questions for now, so glad to have someone to ask...:)
Thanks again for your help!
edited for typo..oops
This message was edited Feb 8, 2005 10:50 AM
Jamie, another good mail-order source for alpines is Beaver Creek Nursery...they have an outlet in BC as well as Washington. Alpines Mont Echo in Quebec, Canada also sells to the US via Vermont...that's where most of mine came from. Both nurseries have on-line catalogues.
One book I have on the subject is Saxifrages and related genera by Fritz Kohlein, Timber Press.
I combine them with Auriculastrum Primula (the European alpine primroses), Dianthus, Alyssum (perennial types), Sempervivums and Sedums to name a few....all like lime so are very compatible.
I just saw this post today and I love these saxifrages. I have never heard of them before and I want to thank you for all of your photos and information. I am going to look up the sites that you listed and probably drool over them. HeHe. My favorite is the first one you posted, the Tumbling Waters.
I apologize for taking so long to respond....getting over the worst cold/flu I have ever had. Now out of misery, back to the rock garden...:)
I got the Fritz Kohlein book, can't wait to read it cover-to-cover, looks great!! Also got the catalog from one of the nurseries you suggested, Arrowhead Alpines I think it was called, and am putting a really cool order together for spring from them and Siskiyou Rare Plant Nursery- with several Saxifrages of course. I will post which ones I get and see if you have any words of wisdom, and pics once they are up and running.
Thanks for all your help Todd, I really appreciate it!!
Jamie, before you order from Arrowhead Alpines you might want to take a look at them in the Garden Watchdog. They only have a 78% positive feedback. Just a thought.
Arrowhead alpines suggestion did not come from me...I'm not familiar with them. Siskiyou is good for sure and the other I use is Alpines Mont Echo in Quebec and Beaver Creek in Washington State. The pictures saxifrages all came from Alpines Mont Echo as it happens.
Thanks Todd. I'll do a search on them and check them out. I didn't mean to suggest that you had given anyone a bad place to buy their plants from. I just wanted to let Jamie know that their feedback was not so great.
I just went a looked at my catalog and it is not Arrowhead, it is the one you suggested, Alpines Mont Echo. Arrowhead Alpines was a name that popped up on a search, and I have not pursued them as yet. The plants listed at the nurseries you suggested are wonderful. Can't wait to get going on this new rock garden. Will spring ever get here?? LOL
I loved the new pics as well. One of the plants on my short list is the 'Southside Seedling', as well as a couple of the ones you showed earlier: S. Dracula. and S. Godiva, still looking for S. Tumbling Waters. It has been great looking at your photos, I drool all over my keyboard each time you post them..LOL
By the way, after showing us all your gorgeous plants, are some easier to grow than others. Or given the conditions you already specified, are they all pretty equal??
Only one question for you today...:)
Have a Great Day!!
Jamie, the easiest to grow are the encrusted saxifrages....S. paniculata, C. crustata, 'Southside Seedling', 'Tumbling Waters'...all have more-or-less silvery rosettes and upright sprays of white flowers. The kabschias ('Dracula, Marianne, etc) are a little more difficult, but for me, that's because of frost-heaving...you might not have the same problem in Washington. All need lime...thats the one thing to remember.
Here's a kabschia called Salmonii
I have not posted here for a while because I have been busily prepping, amending, planning, replanning, and planting my Rock Garden. Finally!! I got to actually do it, not just read about, discuss, and plan it...:) Although I must admit, this is one type of gardening that takes a lot more of the up front work to be successful. This is the first phase, it will grow quite a bit as my plantaholic, fanatical alpine collector side wins over my frugal, "you don't need them all" side LOL I have many, many plants on order, due here over the next month or so. I staggered ship dates to avoid overload. Some of the Saxifrages I have, or have coming are: S. 'Winifred Bevington', S. 'Amite', S. scardia, S. marie-theresiae'Theresia, S.lilacina, and S.Iranica. There are probably more but I am too tired to go and dig them out right now...LOL!! I will post more pics tomorrow, as soon as I can take them........
Happy Gardening!! Jamie
Sedum spathulifolium 'Carnea'
I forgot to mention that we are trying to get a Rock Garden/Alpine Forum Started. Dave just wants to know the level of interest first. There is a thread @ the Daves Garden forum about it, if you had time to pop over and add another interested voice to the thread, that would be most appreciated (if you are interested, that is...:) )
Saxifraga x arendsii 'Red form'
Jamie, I brought this idea up of a rock garden forum some time ago myself but it didn't seem to get far. I'll check it out again and make another comment.
I ordered several different types of saxifraga from Mt. Tahoma this year and they are great looking. He has pages and pages of saxifraga in his catalog too. The new pictures from the East Lancs show on the Alpine Garden site (TheAlpineGarden.com) include some gorgeous saxifraga, but what's the deal with saxifraga oppositifolia? Almost every good-looking picture I see of a blooming saxifrage is an oppositifolia, but I never see that word in any of the alpine nursery catalogs. Is it a synonym for something else, or is it just something they don't carry?
Saxifraga oppositifolia is not for the faint of heart....it can be a real stinker to grow and is left to the UK experts who seem to be able to get that one to grow. It is very difficult in North America thus few alpine catalogues offer it. It is actually native in Newfoundland yet plants I introduced into my garden still died despite being native. I understand the clone they grow in the UK IS easier to grow than the clones from North America.
Well, that explains it. Do you know of any available types of saxifraga that have the same habit and the same blooms?
That one is fairly unique in being somewhat trailing. Most of the ones with flowers like that one, are hard bun-forming types. I have one called Myra Cambria which has flowers like S. oppositifolia but in a tight, bun habit. I have no pics of it at the moment but it should be in bloom late April so I'll post it once it opens.
Well, contrary to your greatly appreciated advice, I just bought an oppositifolia ("Vaccariana") from the Alpines Mont Echo site you recommended to Jamie. I actually just dropped $153, not counting shipping, in a very short time there. They had the haberlea I wanted, two kinds of ramonda, and all sorts of great things. In addition, I will now have 4 new saxifraga, 9 new primula, and 5 new lewisia (among other things) arriving here soon. Very exciting! Now I don't have to place two separate orders for the haberlea and ramonda.
I also have that same S. oppositifolia from Mont Echo, purchased last year. It doesn't look very happy right now so I can't say if it will be easier or not. I also placed an order with Mont Echo for about $120. Most of my saxifrages came from them, but this year I've ordered a mixed bag of plants since I figure with 23 saxifrage cultivars, I probably had enough!
I'll baby it along and see what happens. There's no such thing as enough saxifrages, silly. I really was delighted by the two nurseries I visited today on line. I've always avoided anything outside the United States, but those two are charging less for shipping and handling than many of the nurseries in the USA, even right here in California, and they will take care of the phyto-sanitary nonsense themselves, so I'm quite happy.
todd-if i may ask some questions! i have not delved into the saxifrages because siskiyou nursery had them listed as zone 6..and i thought they might not get through a New Hamphshire winter, but yours seem to thrive in NF..so i should go ahead, right?? obviously! also i loved the seed heads of the pulsatilla (i think that's what it is) in one of your pictures above..my question is how much sun can they take? I have full sun options and semi shade options....but have mine in the semi shade area where they are doing only so so. your plant looks so healthy! meanwhile- hello to all of you, i am looking forward to learning a lot in this forum! sjms oops- i mean your picture in your new rock wall thread...not above in this thread..
This message was edited Mar 21, 2005 9:20 PM
Pulsatilla are happiest in full sun in my experience. I have growing now P. vulgaris var. rubra & f. alba' , P. halleri (fairly rare), P. alpinus and an as yet unidentified specimen given to me by a lady who has been doing rock gardens for 55+ years...:) Each and every one is in full sun, and the ones that were not, have since been moved due to lack of quantity and quality of bloom when grown in much less than 8 hours of sun.
And I definitely think you should go for the Saxifragas....my sister gardens in Montana in zone4b-5a and she has several that she grows. She has found that if grown in PERFECT drainage with a thick collar of rock and/or coarse grit they survive temps lower than typical zone recommendations. Todd will chip in with his experience here soon...the man has an amazing collection of Sax....
What rock garden/alpine plants do you have growing??? Love to hear what others have in thier beds and containers...:)
Even in hot areas, Pulsatillas prefer full sun. A liberal dusting of lime yearly is also beneficial as they are lime lovers. I grow Pulsatilla vulgaris, var. alba, var. rosea, 'Papageno', Pulsatilla alpina ssp. apiifolia, P. albana 'Lutea' (this one is really cute) and P. vernalis (it hasn't bloomed yet and I'm a bit dubious about the ID of what I've seen so far!). This is my pink selection of P. vulgaris
That's a beautiful picture, Todd. I just ordered a Pulsatilla pratensis ssp. bohemica from Beaver Creek. It sounded irresistible. I got the update on both of my orders. Beaver Creek had everything I wanted, and Alpines Mont Echo was out of only one thing: that pesky Vaccariana. Do you suppose that's Providence looking out for me? At any rate, my rash impulse has been checked and it's probably just as well. I'll have to be content with pictures of oppositifolia.
today the snow is just melting off the rock garden area, and i can begin to see how things look- last season began the process of changing over some of my areas from the larger, well known dependable plants- like alyssum, phlox, iberis, sedums, dianthus,etc.. to the smaller- new to me anyway varieties--so much fun. its great to have another garden obsession! well! i am going to try beaver creek and go for some saxifrages! and i'll move the pulsatillas- how pretty the color of the picture of the pink p.vulgaris-- btw, has anyone tried evermay nursery? i've ordered from there - they are closer to me than the west coast nurseries--and have corresponded with the owner who seems friendly and knowledgable- going outside right now..
Go for it, SJMS--
I've drooled over those East Coast alpine and rock garden plant sites, only to learn at the last minute that they either don't ship to California at all or charge exorbitant shipping rates for West Coast deliveries (as high as 50 percent of the merchandise total). Now I go straight to the shipping page so that I won't see something I can't live without and end up broken-hearted (or at least super-annoyed).