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Pierre and Cheryl's Alpine Adventure

This past August found Pierre and me driving through the mountains of Switzerland after having attended ISU, an international perennial conference, which was held this year in Baden Baden, Germany. These photos were taken at the Sustern Pass, above 7500ft, near the Matterhorn.

It was a cool, blustery day with occasional rain squalls. We had been driving for a number of hours and as we reached the crest of the pass the rain ceased so we took that opportunity to get out to stretch our legs. Looking around, I was amazed to see the diversity of plant life and the incredible number of alpines that were in bloom at that altitude. Tucked in, around and amongst the stone outcroppings were large swaths of low growing plants. Knowing the extreme temperatures these plants endure above tree line, in such a barren, wind swept location with snow just a few hundred feet higher made the impact of seeing flowers blooming in August very impressive.

There were pink blooming alliums, ground hugging sedums and horned rampion (Phyteuma scheuchzeri). Of particular interest to me was the Alchemilla alpina because I was seeing it in its native habitat. Along with the Alchemilla was an awesome display of Campanula rotundifolia. The plants were so tiny yet they were covered in flowers. I mean, check out the quarter next to the flower, the blooms are huge.

sales contacts page general photo2 sales contacts page general photo alpine wildflower bouquet 371 gentiana purpurea 364 phyteuma scheuchzeri 356 sustern pass 359 campanula rotundifolia 354 campanula rotundifolia with sedum 352 gentiana purpurea 366 pink blooming alliums 349

But, I came to a dead stop when I looked upon the most gorgeous, beautiful, crimson red Gentian I have ever seen. There were so many flower buds per stem it made each plant look like a little bouquet. Speaking of a bouquet, here’s a beautiful bouquet Pierre gathered for me.

While it was thrilling for me to see these plants in their true alpine setting, I’m happy to say all of them, and more, can be found in the Alpine section of the Sunny Border perennial catalog. They don’t require the severe alpine conditions I happened to see them in but take note; with few exceptions the majority of alpines require full sun with no competition of shade from taller perennials, shrubs, dwarf conifers or trees.

Alpines are perfect for a rock garden. Tuck them into crevices, in stonewalls or between paving stones, around your patios and deck or placed in troughs. This is miniature gardening at its finest.