Today’s photos were sent in by Sandra Schaller. Sandra works at Wave Hill, a fantastic public garden in the Bronx in New York City. She recently took over care of the alpine house in the garden and is sharing some of the marvelous plants that grow there. Alpine houses are specialized greenhouses used for growing unusual plants native to alpine regions, rather than the lush tropicals grown in a typical greenhouse.
Oxalis obtusa (Zones 8–10) is a fabulous flowering bulb from South Africa, which is in active growth in the cooler months of the year and goes dormant in the summer. The alpine house protects it from cold winter temps and allows it to stay dry during its summer dormancy.
A little saxifrage (Saxifraga sp.) growing through a chunk of porous rock. Many alpine plants can thrive in conditions that seems inhospitable to other plants.
A beautiful Japanese maple (Acer palmatum, Zones 5–9) grows in one of the beds in the alpine house. While it doesn’t need the shelter of the house to thrive, it certainly looks beautiful there. To the right you can see ceramic pots sunk down into the sand of the beds. This helps insulate the roots from hot and cold temperatures.
The incredibly dramatic flowers of an alarm ginger (Asarum maximum, Zones 7–9). These cool blooms are produced at ground level so they can be pollinated by beetles. Growing alarm ginger in a raised bench in the alpine house allows humans to enjoy them without having to get down on their knees.
Alpine primroses (Primula auricula hybrids, Zones 5–7) are classic inhabitants of alpine houses in Europe. They’ll produce marvelously beautiful flowers once they mature.
Lewisia cotyleden (Zones 5–8) is native to dry western North America. The alpine house protects it from excessive rain, allowing it to produce its brilliantly colored blooms.
Sandra is rebuilding the plant collection, so beautiful new alpine plants are arriving, like this box of goodies from the wonderful nursery Wrightman Alpines.
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