Alpine and Rock Garden team blog
The Alpine and Rock Garden team looks after a fantastic range of plants from the world’s mountain ranges. This blog includes stories about individual plants, growing techniques and trips to see alpine plants in the wild. You can visit plants from Kew's collection of alpines in the Davies Alpine House, the Rock Garden and Woodland Garden and read this blog to find out how the team gets to grips with cultivating them.
So it's down to me to write the first of the Alpine and Rock Garden blog posts. My name is Richard Wilford and I am the Collections Manager in the Hardy Display Section at Kew.
The Hardy Display Section at Kew Gardens includes several areas where alpine and rock garden plants are grown. Behind the scenes is the Alpine Nursery, where plants are grown and propagated in a series of cool glasshouses and frames. They are cultivated in pots, ready for planting out on the Rock Garden or in the Woodland Garden, or put on display in the Davies Alpine House. The nursery is run by Graham Walters, who will be contributing to this blog in the coming weeks and months.
Graham Walters in the Hardy Display Section at Kew Gardens
The Davies Alpine House opened in March 2006 and as well as permanent plantings in the rocky landscape, there are display benches and plunge beds that are used to show off the best alpines and bulbs to Kew's visitors as they flower. This changing display means there is always something to see, whatever the time of year.
In the Woodland Garden, under a canopy of deciduous trees is a wonderful array of shade plants. This area is spectacular in spring when beautiful woodland bulbs can be seen carpeting the floor. Both the Woodland Garden and Davies Alpine House are looked after by Katie Price, another future contributor.
Katie Price attending to the Woodland Garden
Last, but certainly not least, is the Rock Garden itself. This is where you can find a huge range of alpines grown in the open among sandstone rocks, stream and waterfalls. It is arranged geographically and plants from all the major mountain ranges are represented. Joanne Everson is responsible for this area and she too will be writing for the blog.
Joanne Everson taking photographs in the field.
As you can see, all the blog team have been a bit shy when it comes to their photos being on the web - 'no close ups!'
So this is me, from a suitable distance!
But as we all know, it is the plants that are the stars of this show and now is the time to see autumn bulbs flowering in the Alpine House, and outside in the Woodland Garden and Rock Garden. Colchicum, Sternbergia and Cyclamen are among the colourful plants blooming today.
Cyclamen blooming at Kew Gardens
- Richard Wilford -
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Several people contribute to the Alpine and Rock Garden Team blog. Richard Wilford is the Collections Manager in the Hardy Display Section at Kew. His responsibilities include all the areas where alpines are grown at Kew Gardens. The three team leaders, Joanne Everson, Graham Walters and Katie Price, each have their own particular parts of the Gardens to look after. Between them, these four experts have over 55 years experience of growing alpines.
Alpines at Kew Gardens are not only grown to create colourful and informative displays, they also play an important role in the research Kew carries out around plant naming, classification, biodiversity and conservation.
Mountains are found on every continent and each range has its own unique alpine flora, but these plants are under threat from climate change. As temperatures rise, alpines are forced higher and will eventually have nowhere to go. The alpine collections at Kew are studied to help us all understand the mountain flora better and make informed decisions about protecting its future.
"Probably the most beautiful glasshouse in the world is the Davies Alpine House at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew", John Hoyland, Gardens Illustrated, April 2011
Richard Wilford has written a book on alpines, 'Alpines from Mountain to Garden', published by Kew Publishing. You can buy it in the Kew shops or from Kewbooks.com.
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