Friday Flora – Gentiana spp

This week I nipped up to Yorkshire to give a talk, it was great fun and my hosts were so welcoming, but I have recently spent far too much time in a tin box with wheels, ricocheting around the country.  I’m glad to be mainly at home for a little while now.

I have had many planty moments along the way. Some of them were blue. So very blue. Like little shreds of left-over summer sky fallen among the dull greens and bronzes of early autumn.

I’ve always associated gentians with spring and early summer, ever since being startled by them on an Austrian mountainside at the age of 15, but a walk around the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh last week, and RHS Harlow Carr this week, reminded me that the gentian season is longer. In fact I think it’s quite possible that there may be a species of Gentiana flowering somewhere in the world every day of the year. It’s an enormous genus and of course not all of them are blue – but I have a terrible weakness for blue flowers.

I really don’t know anything about growing these little beauties. I think I might have to try a few in troughs or tubs. I hesitate to get too deeply into alpine plants because I can see it becoming an uncontrollable addiction…

Here are a few which leapt out at me:

At the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh. Look how that colour stands out!

At the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh. Yes, Chicken Licken, the sky IS falling down.

 

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Gentiana x macaulayi ‘Kidbrooke Seedling’ at RBGE

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A paler one at RBGE

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Gentiana ternifolia ‘Cangshan’ at RBGE

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Gentiana paradoxa outside the alpine house at RHS Harlow Carr

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Gentiana ‘John Aitken’ in the alpine house at Harlow Carr

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The alpine house at RHS Harlow Carr is a great place to meet new plants

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Treasures of the alpine house

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