A glimpse of the Alpine House (and behind the scenes) of the Alpine Dept. at RBG Kew...


There are quite a number of alpine houses in botanic gardens around the world--but none could be confused with the soaring structure at Kew! Some find it a bit too bold--but rock gardening is rather bold. I find it stunningly beautiful inside and out.

(Thomas Freeth sent several corrections and elucidations which I have incorporated in the text. His very interesting commentary on the Centaurea below is also highlighted in blue. He casually mentioned in an email that the Kew exhibit won gold at Chelsea--a rather pleasant aside to note in communications! I'm certain we all are happy and congratulate Kew on another success!).


A glimpse inside the spaceship...


You would expect to see authentic stone troughs at Kew--and they are here in abundance...


A Moroccan chrysanthemum I have been surprised to find out is quite hardy. I believe it was out all winter at Kew.

Supposedly tender Cyclamen persicum growing outside in the rock work.


May just be an Aubrieta--but I love the color...

Various shots around the Alpine house in late April.





I'm sure this is a form of Iris cristata.

And a wee Androsace (as they might say in Scotland)





Leucocoryne in some form: not often seen in gardens in America


A monster Verbascum dumulosum


Tony Hall, who oversaw the Alpines before retirement and Tom Freeth who oversees Alpine House and Rock Garden currently: wonderful hosts both.

Hypericum aegypticum which I admired at Wisley q.v.

A stunning red Ranunculus asiaticus from Crete I believe.

A monumental Centaurea akamantis


Thomas Freeth supplied this commentary: The Centaurea is the very interesting Centaurea akamantis – Critically endangered Cypriot endemic known from only 2 sites on the Akama peninsula (also home to the recently described Tulipa akamantis) with pops of 50 and 400 respectively. 3rd site discovered in 2012. Restricted to a specific geology and has a <10km2 and="" as="" assessment="" case="" cultivation="" cuttings="" distribution="" easily="" encouraging.="" endangered="" for="" from="" goes="" grows="" house="" in="" increasing="" is="" it="" iucn="" must="" outside="" plants="" pots="" range.="" recent="" recorded="" seed.="" sometimes="" span="" the="" try="" us="" very="" well="" which="" with="">


My notes:

Previously known as COMPOSITAE Centaurea akamantis. Recently recognised as distinct and described in 1993. Centaurea Akamansis T.Georgiadis & G.Chatzikyriakou in Willdenowia, 23:15 - 162 (1993). Verified with T.Georgiadis & G.Chatzikyriakou 1993 'Centaurea Akamansis' Willdenowia, 23:157. Centaurea section Acrolophus. Stems and leaves wooly tomentose and glandular. Leaves pinnatifid with lanceolate leaflets. Capitula solitary, phyllaries wooly tomentose with a narrow hyaline margin but no appendages. Florets radiant, purple 15-17mm long. Pappus 3-4mm long. Close to C. kilaea Butt. & Davies.

Endemic to Avgas Gorge, Akamas, SW Cyprus

Very rare only; 2 populations known in the wild - each of approx 50 and 400  plants respectively.
IUCN Red List 3.1 (2015): B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii) CR increasing
IUCN Red List 3.1 (2015): B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii) CR increasing

I love the way the Corydalis tomentella fills the crevices...


The original Alpine House (which I saw dedicated in April of 1981 stood hereabouts, replaced by the expansion of the Jodrell Labs. Now it's used as a nursery and growing area.



Tony next to a small part of his Kingdom of Junos--which I've never seen at its prime (probably February and March: on my bucket list!).


A whole series of shots of the really impressive area where the backup alpines are grown. A collection to die for!


More and more!


Tom, kneeling to check out an aril iris.

And more...

And more...

And more

And even more...

More glimpses behind the scenes

And more!

The extensive "backup" collections are essential to a proper display: and how few botanic gardens have these?



Even Kew is given to a bit of whimsy (or at least Kit Strange--who has a sense of humor!)

I doubt if these little sculptures will ever show up in the Gardens proper--I don't think everyone is as delighted with them as me!

I think this is a great way to end this tour!

I remember rueing the loss of this alpine house, but the status of alpines at Kew is much better than those prehistoric days. What a treat to take a peek behind the scenes, and revel for a while in their current magnificent collections!

Comments

  1. Not only does this rock garden rock, the backup is magnificent. I bet you were drooling through out the time you were there. Sort of nice to see professionals that work so hard to keep such a display and a hoarders trove of treasures in back up can have a sense of humor.

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