Alpine plants are expert survivors. These hardy troupers thrive on rocky outcrops and exposed scree slopes in the wild, delivering miniature explosions of colour where you least expect to find it. We’ve collected a helpful selection of independent articles, videos and Instagram posts to help you create your own ruggedly beautiful rockery.
Whether you’re planting a green roof, filling a container, or adding colour to a stone wall, browse our wide range of alpine and rockery plants for ideas.
Plant alpines into well-drained soil
“They might be able to face cold temperatures, but the one thing [alpines] hate is standing in wet soil…Ensure your rockery has good drainage in order to help them thrive,” says John Moore at Pyracantha. Taking pole position in a list of top ten alpine plants is the gorgeous, ground-spreading armeria which has evergreen foliage and a sea of pink flowers. Visit his website to find out which other plants made his shortlist.
Alpine flowers come in a range of jewel colours
If you want to fill your alpine display with a wide range of delicate flowers, then visit The Tea Break Gardener and take inspiration from Katharine’s favourite alpine plants in bloom. We love the combination of pale yellow helianthemums with upright, mauve veronicas that set each other off beautifully in her rustic urn. See which flowers you like best in her detailed photographs.
Choose shade-tolerant alpines if your rockery doesn’t get much sun
“Rockeries are typically made up of sun-loving alpine plants,” says Daniel over at The Patient Gardener, but you can still plant up a flower-filled rockery if your garden is in shade. “Look for Campanula Lactiflora, Campanula Portenschlagiana or Campanula Persicifolia,” he advises. They produce fantastic displays of pink, purple and blue bell-shaped flowers during the summer. For more ideas to fill your shady rockery, see Daniel’s list of bright blooms and eye-catching foliage.
Foliage alpines provide fabulous structure and colour
A fantastic foliage alpine, heuchera is another great choice for shady areas of the garden. The shapely leaves come in warm shades of coral, deep plum and rusty orange through to vibrant yellows and acid greens. Although it’s a shade-loving plant, the team at T&M explain that, “as a rule of thumb, the colour of the leaves gives you a good clue as to where to site your plant; darker leaves are better at withstanding the sun’s rays.” Visit T&M’s blog for expert tips on how to help your heuchera thrive.
Create a carpet of sedums on your green roof
Fancy making a green roof for your bin store? Alpines are really good candidates because they thrive in free-draining, exposed sites. Writing for the Thompson & Morgan Blog, Nic Wilson shares tips for making a bespoke bin store along with a list of the varieties she used to plant up her display. A colourful mix of succulents, herbs and alpines look gorgeous in her sunny front garden, and her sedum mat also includes sensory elements like lemon thyme to attract bees. Read her full article for practical planting advice.
Flowering alpines provide food for the bees
Attract pollinating insects to your garden with the right selection of alpine plants. Flowers are the key here! Marie of Plews Garden Design recommends arabis for its delicate scented blooms, dwarf sedum for its multitude of yellow summer flowers and single-petalled, scented dianthus. Not only do these plants brighten up a rockery or a small green roof, the bees won’t be able to resist. Full of professional wildlife gardening tips, read Marie’s full article for more.
Sedums are fantastic all rounders
“Sedums look great when they are emerging with fresh strong green waxy foliage, beautiful just as the buds are emerging, and when fully in flower,” enthuses Carol of The Sunday Gardener. When the cold weather arrives, either cut the stems down to the ground or leave the seed heads where they are for a bit of winter structure. Learn which sedums are alpines in Carol’s article, and discover how beneficial sedums are for pollinators in her accompanying video.
Use trailing alpines to soften stone walls
Over at @andrew.crabb2, professional gardener Andrew Crabb gives his aubretia a light trim at the end of summer to encourage a second flush of flowering. It looks fantastic tumbling over this stony wall. He likes to use trailing alpine plants like aubretia and erigeron to soften hard landscaping like walls and steps. Take a look at this clever combination of erigeron daisies as they elegantly spill over a wall. Follow his flower-filled Instagram account for endless inspiration.
Some alpines are impervious to slugs and snails
If your garden is plagued by slugs and snails, try the pretty alpine Erigeron karvinskianus, recommends Jane over at @the_little_end_cottage. The hairy leaves keep the pests at bay. It’s also a great candidate for a drought-tolerant garden as it performs well in dry heat. “She’s a great self-seeder, so I’m hoping that she’ll come up all over the garden!” says Jane happily.
The trick to a rock garden is making it look natural
If you aspire to create a scaled down version of a grand Edwardian rock garden in your own urban patch, watch Alexandra’s excellent video over at The Middlesized Garden. Talking to Amicia Oldfield of Doddington Place Gardens, Alexandra learns that the trick is to add different shapes and textures using a palette of bulbs, trailing alpines, upright evergreens like hebes and self-seeding annuals. “You don’t want everything to be too rigid in a rock garden; it’s got to look as if it’s been put there by nature,” explains Amicia. Watch the full video for a fascinating insight into this beautiful tradition.
We hope we’ve inspired you to create your own alpine plant display. For more advice, head over to our hub page for additional alpine plants growing guides and resources. Follow on Instagram and Twitter to stay up to date with our latest plants and products.
Since the first seed catalogue was published in 1855, Thompson & Morgan has grown to become one of the UK’s largest Mail Order Seed and Plant companies. Through the publication of our catalogues and the operation of our award-winning website, Thompson & Morgan is able to provide home gardeners with the very best quality products money can buy.