|Leontopodium alpinum in my home garden|
|Leontopodium alpinum var. nivale |
At Denver Botanic Gardens in the 1980's
|Leontopodium sp. ex Asia in my home garden|
|Leontopodium fedschenkoanum in Kazakhstan|
|Leontopodium cf fedschenkoanum|
|Leontopodium ochroleucum in Mongolia|
|Leontopodium sp. ign.|
*Edelweiss alpinum (English Rock Garden Reginald Farrer, excerpt from pp. 445-446)
The Flannel-flower is of the easiest cultivation in an open space in light soil. It dreads wet and stagnation in winter, as becomes a desert plant; and lime in abundance helps to keep white the whitened sepulchre of its sham flower. It can be grown admirably in window-boxes in London, where the smuts enhance its colour. Were it not for the idiotic superstitious and persistent rubbish of romance that have gathered round this species, no one could refuse credit and even affection to its wide woolly stars of silver, which, in the garden as on the wild hills, take special value if grown in the moraine among clumps of violet-and-gold Aster alpinus. It is often a really beautiful sight, covering the highest lawns of the Alps with tufts of grey, and galaxies of pale flannel starfishes, as common Daisies cover an English tennis-court. But to call this plant an alpine, to imagine it rare and precious and difficult of attainment, this is to provoke the meekest into exposure of a fraud so impudent and foolish that thereby the merits of Edelweiss itself are unduly alarmed and darkened. It is not an alpine at all: it belongs to the great Central European and Asiatic deserts, but, being very profuse seeder, has established itself on every mountain range of the Northern hemisphere in the Old World. It is not a rarity, but so universally common that you may rely on tramping acres of it on almost any alpine range above the altitude of 5300 feet; bit is so far from being a typical and representative high alpine that it never ascends beyond the fine mountain turf of some 7000 feet, more or less, and it is far from being difficult of attainment that on every such slope or final valley under the peaks or ridge between them, one is treading dense flat lawns of it, in places where a dozen prams could race abreast without imperiling themselves, their conductors, or their inmates. Yet every season the misguided go dropping of precipices on which a few stray tufts have seeded down, not knowing that 200 feet higher, in the soft alpine grass, they could be picking basins-full of blossoms in half an hour's gentle and octogenarian stroll before dinner....
And so Reginald goes on magnificently for another page or two! Really worth looking up! Oh that he were alive today to pen a few pages of invective about our miserable world leaders!
Since Farrer's classic has been continuously in print for over a Century now (just over) and there are dozens of editions of the dang thing--just go look it up! If it's not in your library, it should be. It's widely and cheaply available from used book dealers online!
Everyone has a regret or two in one's life: I have more than my share, believe me. One of my more winsome regrets is that I never wrote a single blog in 2019 to honor the 100th anniversary of the publication of the English Rock Garden, and to tell the story of how I discovered it as a child at the nearby University library, checked it out and re-read it endlessly--stoking the fires that would eventually conflagrate into my career! That copy I read had Farrer's own dedication to Darwin Andrews--Colorado's first great nurseryman, who supplied Farrer with plants and is mentioned in the text. At least that's what I remember!
Libraries being what libraries have become, that book was probably de-accessioned and sold at a sale for a few dollars and is sitting on some hobbyist's shelf (not mine--I have a 1948 seventh printing).
I will soon follow up with Part 2: the Chinese Edelweiss--that's where the genus goes crazy!
Gardeners in the USA are lucky to have Edelweiss Perennials, a fantastic mail order nursery that offers 8 kinds of edelweiss by mail order. I can't recommend this nursery too highly: it is one of the best sources of many choice plants at very reasonable prices: grown, packaged and shipped superbly!