If you rub shoulders with those in the gardening community you might have heard talk of alpine plants either being too difficult to grow, or simply the preoccupation of people with too much time on their hands, or indeed those who suffer from innate snobbishness.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The mythology around alpine plants is all but unjustified, sure they probably look better in their natural habitat, but most things take on an air of transient beauty when you’re scaling pathways to the heavens, so that’s hardly surprising.
One typically outlandish misconception is that an alpine greenhouse is required to grow these plants effectively, whilst it might help it isn’t necessary to ensure that your alpines thrive. The same goes for needing a rockery, it might assist with drainage which is important for alpines, but there are many other ways of achieving this.
When planting your first alpines you simply need to know whether they prefer acidic or alkaline conditions, and what level of sunlight they prefer so that you can buy and position them accordingly.
In order to maintain correct soil acidity and drainage it’s best to plant your alpines in a raised bed or container where you have complete control over both factors. You’ll probably find a gritty variety of compost to be most effective, and in recent years a trend known as ‘crevice gardening’ has developed, whereby small stones are positioned between each plant, both improving drainage and increasing visual appeal.
Other than that it’s a case of keeping them free of weeds, which is hardly a revelation!
Finally a quick word on varieties. Alpine plants come in many shapes and sizes, although they are all hardy perennials. Conifers, cacti, and bulbs all fall under the alpine bracket, so there’s a good chance you already have experience with growing alpines without even realising it!