Create an alpine trough to display the tiniest, most delicate beauties of the plant world to perfection, set off against sculptural stone and grit just as they would be in their mountainous homeland.
You’ll find troughs for alpines at the garden centre here in Poynings made of stone, tufa or lightweight stone-effect plastic. Place a layer of gravel or broken terracotta pots in the bottom, then fill the trough with compost. Add interest with larger rocks, or broken paving slabs placed edge-on to make jagged, mountain-like peaks.
Next, plant your alpines, putting taller ones in the centre or towards the back of the trough, with trailing ones by the edge. Easy alpines to try include houseleeks (Sempervivum), starry-flowered saxifrages, alpine pulsatillas and yellow Allium flavum. You’ll find loads more in the alpine section at the garden centre, though, so pop in and see what takes your fancy.
Once planted, spread a thick layer of grit over the surface and water in. Alpines are very hardy but dislike winter wet, so place a sheet of glass or plastic over the top, resting on bricks, or bring in under a shelter. In time, you can build up a collection of miniature gems for a real highlight of your garden.