Gardening / Cuttings: Successful saxifrages

THE ALPINE Garden Society, which has more members than any other specialist horticultural society in Britain, has published a handbook on saxifrages, of which more than 600 kinds are available in this country. What the kindergarten alpine gardener needs is a clear indication of the varieties most likely to succeed. The AGS calls the book A Gardener's Guide to the Genus, but this information is not clearly signposted. As for valuable general advice on cultivation, you have to ferret under the Kabschia subsection.

The author, Winton Harding, presents a comforting aura of expertise. Of S. demnatensis, he says: 'I am inclined to the view that it is averse to free lime in the compost.' And of S. oppositifolia: 'My best plants have been grown on semi-shady slopes where their mats can also hang down over rocks.' The nomenclature of saxifrages is a minefield, and a shifting one at that. Botanists keep laying new traps. It is unfortunate that so many descriptions of the species here have to start with complex rechristenings, some saxifrages such as S. continentalis gaining in rank, others losing.

But saxifrages are tenacious enough to be able to weather this temporary identity crisis. At their peak in March and April, they are sufficiently diverse for a gardener to be able to do without any other plants at all. I recommend 'Whitehill', a neat little encrusted saxifrage with cream flowers, and 'Four Winds' a mossy saxifrage with deep crimson flowers. In my own garden, both seem quite happy growing on a shallow upturned tile.

My S. grisebachii (bought as such, but now to be known as S. federici-augusti subsp. grisebachii) died. It had superb flat rosettes of silvery leaves. In spring a reddish boss develops in the centre of the rosette and lengthens into a flower. It was growing in a clay pot outside. Mr Harding says it needs an alpine house. Now I know.

Saxifrages is available from AGS Publications, AGS Centre, Avon Bank, Pershore, Worcestershire WR10 3JP (0386 554790) at pounds 9.95 (plus pounds 1.65 p & p).

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Support Engineer

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Support Engi...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence