Winter for the alpine or rock gardener is never without flowers, there is always a succession of flowering plants, bulbs mainly, but when they are mass planted they give a glow to even the coldest of days in winter.

The first to push their heads through the cold soil is the Galanthus and being a Galanthophile, I cannot help myself with these gorgeous white winter flowering bulbs. They are for sale every now and then, but to get clumps one has to lift and divide them every 2nd or 3rd year and this is best done in the green as it is called. Digging up the bulbs just after they have finished flowering, with their leaves still green, gently pull the bulbs apart and replant them.

Glanthus
While the Galanthus are flowering, out come the Cyclamen coum, shortly followed by Cylamen repandum. Where do I buy those? I hear you say, well the best way is by growing them from seed. It is not as difficult as it seems with Cyclamen you can just plant the seed in a pot in a little shade, under a deciduous tree is best, with some sunlight and shade in summer, nature will do the rest. But there are nurseries selling these bulbs now you just have to search for them.

Cyclamen

Then comes the Iris reticulata followed by Crocus. Iris reticulata, require full sun with a well-drained position, while Crocus will tolerate a little shade, in fact, my Crocus tommasinianus love a shaded position.

Erythronium

Erythroniums are next and they are such a quiet delight with their reflexed petals swaying in the breeze when the sun comes out. Pink, white, cream and lemon yellow are their colours, not hard to fit into any area. Erythroniums like to be planted deeply under shady trees, in fact, the bulb will draw down to where they want to grow happily. The dwarf Narcissus are the next to bloom and all the bulbs come and go at different stages, overlapping each other creating a beautiful spring and winter garden.

Narcissus Roveroi

Experienced gardener and passionate Alpine plantsman, Ray Condon, is opening his private garden to the guests of the Secret Gardens of the Dandenong Ranges tour on Friday 20th October.

Secret Gardens of the Dandenong Ranges

Dates: October 12th - 14th & 20th - 21st 

This exclusive event offers only 50 places each day.

Tickets $135 (+booking fee) for single day packages and include transport, garden entry, meals and refreshments, with a further discount available for multi-day bookings.

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