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Second chance

It felt really bad when I lost my Oxytropis halleri seedlings two years ago (particularly because I knew why). Now, from the few seeds left, I got new seedlings! and I will be more careful. Most alpine plants develop incredible long roots very fast and should be transplanted ASAP. Seedlings of a high elevation growing Astragalus, Astragalus oreades, will keep them good company. As well, just a few leftover seeds from a Caucasus collection.

For both species (Fam. Fabaceae), I scarified lightly the seeds, placed them in moist paper towels, sprinkled over a bit of GA3 solution, and kept them in the fridge for a couple of weeks. It is hard to say if the scarifying worked until you see the seeds nicely expanding by absorbing moisture, so it’s best to scarify less than too much (as seen in the images, I didn’t quite ‘scratch’ them all, but you can repeat the procedure). Ga3 is not absolutely necessarily, but you will have to allow for a longer cold-moist period.

I only have pictures with Oxytropis , but they are both glorious alpine plants; such a nice pair for the rock garden!

Oxytropis halleri

Oxytropis halleri in wild habitat, Carpathian Mts.

Oxytropis halleri with fruits

Geum reptans in late November

The Return of the Germinatrix

A rather silly post from last spring inspired by the good growth of a few very special seed collections from the Carpathian Mts. By fall some of them had grown up quite a bit so I added a few other images.

The youngest heralds of the new gardening season are looking grown up now and some are ready to be transplanted. There is the constant chattering and moving around plus that they pick their noses out from under lights as soon as they feel something is happening around.

Hello there! My name is Geum (reptans) and I am from the Carpathian Mts. I am 2 months-old and I like to play under lights with my friends: Anthemis, Oxytropis, and Anthyllis. When I grow up I would like to have a nice big boulder to spread unto by myself. Some say that I’m the most beautiful of the mountain avens, but I’m too little to know about this. My flowers, they say, are very big, bright yellow, like the sun. My fruits will be like fathe.., feater.., feather…I have to go now – farewell!


Hellooo! I want to see who’s there too…Don’t listen to Geum, I’m the prettiest, everyone says so! The mountain avens and all the others are so envious, that’s why I’m playing only with Dianthus (petraeus); she’s pretty too. And my name is Aquilegia (nigricans) and I am going to have the bluest flowers.  Oh! Look who’s talking – the ‘princess’. See how lacy I am and I’ll form a nice clump with lots of white daisy-like flowers. By the way, my name is Anthemis (carpatica)

Kids! I’m just their nanny, I’m wondering what their parents from up the mountain would say….you can see them all in the Botanical Trailblazers page – Bucegi Mountains.

Dianthus glacialis

Still botanizing in the Bucegi Plateau

Geum reptans is an alpine gem of which I was able to collect a few seeds. Growing in crevices and spreading in mats over boulders, it was already past flowering during late July, and its ornamental fluffy seed heads were getting pink. Although also admired for its yellow flowers, I find the pinnate, fernlike foliage very beautiful in itself. Called ‘the best of its race of mountain avens’ by Jim Jermyn, it is most definitely calcifuge requiring a perfectly drained mixture and full sun exposure – perfect for a scree garden.

Near the Geum reptans, small tufts of Armeria alpina stood out on top of the rocks, and then, fiercely competing with them for our attention, Dianthus glacialis, with its brilliant pink flowers, was making it very hard to concentrate on taking pictures! Dianthus glacialis in flower is a must see, at least once in a lifetime. Small green cushions covered in almost stemless pink flowers, defy description. There are two subspecies, glacialis and gelidus, the later being a Romanian endemic. The differences between them are quite minute; without going into details, subsp. gelidus has bigger flowers with a more intense pink colour, and it seems that the clumps we found belonged to this subspecies. To change the colour spectrum, clumps of two wonderful Asteraceae with white flowers: Achillea schuri and Anthemis carpatica were sprinkled on the rocky slopes, blooming profusely. Anthemis carpatica is already taken into cultivation and apparently adapts well to full sun and calcareous substrates, while Achillea schuri, endemic to Romania, has still to make its way into the gardening world.

Whenever the trail goes close to stone walls and outcrops, the delightful Campanula cochlearifolia greets you from above with its thimble-like delicate, blue flowers. It is not a pretentious plant to cultivate either, and can even overcome its boundaries if not restricted between some rocks. Among the species with violet or mauve flowers I have to mention Calamintha alpina subsp. baumgarteni (syn. Acinos alpinus subsp. alpinus). Considered a chamaephyte, it has a woody stem with small leaves and mauve flowers typical of the Lamiaceae family. On the other hand, the genus Oxytropis is not a stranger to rock gardeners, and Oxytropis halleri is a wonderful example with its violet flowers and dense pinnate foliage. And of course, it cannot be a mountain ‘story’ without a Saxifrage. Quite a few species are abounding in the Bucegi. Saxifraga paniculata seemed very happy in the Plateau, flowering in big colonies at margins of the path, as well as Saxifraga moschata, which has small rosettes, with finely divided leaves and yellow, fragrant flowers.

And to be continued…