Mats & Mounds from the Mountains of the World
from August 1999
Summertime always brings thoughts of high mountain vacations amidst jewel-like plants and glorious scenery. We can bring some of those mountain gems into our gardens and refresh our minds and bodies with the joy of growing cherished alpine plants even in our lower elevations.
Scutellaria alpina lives from the Pyrenees in Spain to the Balkans, and in Siberia from the Urals to Turkestan and the Altai Mountains. Our selected form grows in a lush mat of rounded dark green leaves with flower stems rising 6 to 8" high clustered with purple and white 1" long-lasting blooms. Repeat waves of blossoms will appear from spring through summer if spent flowers are removed. This little skullcap and the one below are hardy to 0 degrees F.
Another skullcap, Scutellaria suffrutescens came from James Spivey of Lone Star Growers in Texas where he shares research plants with the folks at San Antonio Botanical Garden. It is more of a little bush, making a mound 6 to 12" high with tightly clothed bright green 1/2" leaves. The dark pink flowers are of a rich, intense hue, and are held just above the foliage from summer through fall. It is a full sun, fairly drought tolerant, and deer resistant plant that will tolerate both alkaline and acid soils. Give this and S. alpina a loose, humus-rich, well-drained soil.
From Morocco and the Atlas Mountains comes Eryngium variifolium, an evergreen perennial with silvery-blue flowering stems up to 18" high on our seed strain. The dark forest-green, flat, 3" nearly heart-shaped leaves are dramatically marked with vivid white. Many grey-green flower heads sparkle in the sun with their glistening bracts. These prefer sun, but accept partial shade, needing excellent drainage, and regular garden watering. Hardy to 10 degrees F.