Alpine bulbs and other delights


Dave Toye remarked one evening that perhaps I may wish to provide some photographs of some of the plants I enjoy growing. After some hesitation I agreed and decided that, rather than load the site with a random selection, a month by month display may be enjoyable.  

Martin PollardThe majority of the bulbs and plants that I will be showing are grown in greenhouses where I may keep a careful eye on their watering. They are generally grown in clay pots that in turn are set into sand plunges. Each plant is grown in a medium suitable for its needs but generally I use a good John Innes compost, no.1 or 2, with varying amounts of grit, sometimes up to 50%. A good general fertiliser such as Vitax Q4 is added, again depending on the plants needs. Some bulbs may be set in sand for protection. Either way drainage is of the utmost importance whether in the garden or pot. Short comments regarding the needs for any plant have been included alongside the photographs but I should stress that this is my way of growing them and not necessarily the only way. The emphasis is therefore on growing medium, watering, drainage, ventilation and the amount of light.

I have hand held the camera for some of the photographs so please excuse the focusing (I have reduced the quality considerably to make them load faster even on the full size images. Sorry Martin. DT).

IRIS BALDSCHUANICA subgenus Scorpiris (Juno)

Iris baldschuanica is from central Asia, the Pamir-Alai mountains. It will not tolerate any water on the leaves as it will die overnight. It is related to Iris nicolai shown below.

Dry warm Summer and repotting each year as for all of my bulbs.

IRIS TADSHIKORUM subgenus Scorpiris (Juno)

This beautiful and very rare plant is again from Central Asia: Pamir-Alai Mountains.
I've not seen it elsewhere, or indeed a photograph, but it is probably in the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew collection of juno irises. The leading specialist of this group, Tony Hall, cares for these and is a mine of information. Well worth a visit to the Alpine House. 
Note the crested white ridge.

IRIS NICOLAI subgenus Scorpiris (Juno)

I make no excuse for showing another juno iris.

Iris nicolai may again be found in Central Asia in the Pamir-Alai Mountains; Afghanistan, Kataghan province. This is closely related to Iris baldschuanica but tends to have a pale lilac background to the falls in lieu of a pale yellow. Again not too difficult but will die off overnight if water lodges in the rosette of leaves. The example photographed has two flowers open.


If you are going to grow smaller irises outdoors this is the fellow. Plant in a fertile well drained sunny spot and it'll come up year after year. Slugs love it and they take a battering from rain but, with a little help, you'll not be disappointed. You probably grow it already.

The species is from Central North Turkey. There are some lovely hybrids crossed with I. winogradowii such as 'Frank Elder' and my favourite 'Katherine Hodgkin'.


This hybrid is amongst many recent ones. The genus is not known for easy growing. They are not long living and will die quickly if the leaf rosettes get wet. Good drainage and lots of ventilation essential.

They are found in Iran and Afghanistan

I hope that I shall be able to show a few more of these when in flower as they are tiny gems.


These little woodlanders were formerly classified under Anemone and are well suited to partial shade. A leafy soil is ideal.

H nobilis may be found in Europe, Asia and America and may be in a variety of colours.

There are some wonderful Japanese forms that include doubles, bicolours, tricolours and shades such as tomato-red but these are very expensive.


There are numerous sections of Corydalis. The plant shown has a tuber and is from the Karu Tau Mountains of Russia.

C schanginii ssp ainae was discovered in 1977 growing in shade and moist all year. It will therefore probably be fine in the open garden but mine is too precious to experiment with yet.


This plant has been with me for a few years and is gradually growing into a good pan full.

From China its trouble-free and long-lived. It requires a dry rest.


There are numerous species of Crocus that I grow and amongst these are the biflorus group. They are colourful but are better grown under cover as they prefer a dry summer.

They may be found in the former Yugoslavia and Albania.


My mothers garden is full of this super little crocus at this time of year. This photo shows a colour form known as 'Roseus' that is the pinkest that I know of.

From the Balkans, Hungary and Bulgaria it will easily set seed around the garden and I suspect may become a 'nuisance' to some. There are numerous forms such as the well known 'Whitewell Purple' and 'Pictus' and they are all excellent.

Well drained spot in the sun.

Next month I hope to be able to show some more Irises together with Fritillaria and Dionysia. 

As a member of the Alpine Garden Society may I inform you that we, the Central Sussex Group, will be staging our local group show on  Saturday 27th April . Its being held at Wivelsfield New Village Hall, not far from Haywards Heath, its free entry and you may gain access from 1.30pm to 4.30pm. There will be some really excellent and rare plants as well as the more common alpines. I can promise that you will enjoy it. Further details e mail me

Martin Pollard 14th February 02