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Author Topic: Growing European gentians in a lawn meadow area  (Read 2474 times)

Tristan_He

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Growing European gentians in a lawn meadow area
« on: March 21, 2020, 07:14:05 PM »
Has anyone tried this? I have several different clones of Gentiana acaulis agg. which generally don't flower very impressively.

I have a meadow area in the lawn where the hay rattle keeps the grass down quite well. Has anybody tried planting G. acaulis and / or verna in this setting? Do they grow well there?

Catwheazle

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Re: Growing European gentians in a lawn meadow area
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2020, 08:45:59 PM »
Hi, what do you mean by "acaulis agg."? acaulis acaulis likes sour (silicate) acaulis clusii lime clay and wet etc. and verna ssp. verna (also wet, lime questionable as it grows in the moor layer above) seems to be almost impossible in culture, which is why only verns ssp. angulosa can be found, which is said to be significantly more demanding. All of them grow on nutrient-poor meadows and are not competitive in a "normal" meadow.
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Tristan_He

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Re: Growing European gentians in a lawn meadow area
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2020, 09:05:50 PM »
Hi there,

I suppose I mean acaulis, clusii, ligustica etc (the large-flowered mat-forming perennial alpine gentians). I wasn't thinking of G. verna and related species.

I live at 300m altitude on a thin acidic podzol in north-west Wales. We definitely are not nutrient-rich. I am thinking of these in a setting where I can mow over them when not in flower. It's not really a lawn - lots of moss and also quite a few 'lawn weeds' like Pilosella aurantiaca. I also have Cardamine pratensis and some Dactylorhizas self-seeding. Even when unmown though, the grass does stay fairly short. It has never been fertilised while I have been here (about 18 years now).

I think I may give it a try and report back!

Best wishes, Tristan


Catwheazle

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Re: Growing European gentians in a lawn meadow area
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2020, 09:14:40 PM »
... they all have different requirements!
I don't know ligustica, angustifolia could assert itself. I would cultivate Clusii and acaulis in pots. Compromise: dig in the pot and see how you cope with the location. If you have plastic pots, you can also use a soldering iron or a hot wire (over a candle) to melt holes in the side (not too small) then you have control over whether they can hold their own and you do not risk losing the plants. PS: Just to think about: I don't know of any natural location where clusii and acaulis occur together! But I know many locations of both!
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Leucogenes

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Re: Growing European gentians in a lawn meadow area
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2020, 02:35:08 PM »
Hello Tristan

I am very curious about the result of your experiment. I fully agree with the advice of Catwheazle...You should start by "sinking" pots with appropriate substrate.

Gentiana licustica is particularly beautiful. The wavy foliage is attractive all year round.

He seems to love the current surreal heat... here my specimen...seed from the ligurian alps in NW Italy (1600 meters) limestone!

Good luck with your project...

Tristan_He

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Re: Growing European gentians in a lawn meadow area
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2020, 08:09:03 PM »
Thanks both. I'm not necessarily expecting success, but thought it would be an interesting thing to try. Of course the different species don't necessarily grow together in the wild, and I don't know which will do best here. One would think acaulis given the acid soil, but it doesn't always work like that!

I don't think I'll be using pots though as there is a bit of a risk they will dry out. Any material I use will be spare pieces from the rockery, where I have several clones growing quite well (though not necessarily flowering). One has not flowered in 10 years and is certainly a candidate for the compost heap!

I used the term 'acaulis agg' because here in Britain at least I am not very confident about the identity of many gentians of this group in cultivation. There are lots of named clones sold which may or may not be the species on the label!  ??? But pretty much all are worth growing (when they flower).

Hoy

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Re: Growing European gentians in a lawn meadow area
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2020, 08:26:18 AM »
Hello Tristan,

I don't grow the species you mention but Gentiana verna, G. purpurea and Gentianella campestris in a kind of lawn/meadow at our mountain cabin. I cut the grass in fall (October) and remove it. If some plants still are in flower I try to avoid cutting them. G. verna and campastris have "always" been there but they would perish if I hadn't managed the grass (would have turned into woodland). Being annuals/biennials verna and campestris vary a lot from one year to another. (This year they're plentiful.) I have planted a few and sowed many of the G. purpurea. This species compete easily with rather coarse grass like Deschampsia cespitosa. The soil is sandy glacial moraine and vary in nutrient and pH. I never feed it. Yellow rattle and Melampyrum sylvaticum grow also naturally here but I have introduced Bartsia alpina and try to establish other hemiparasites.

I always try get plants/seeds from as many different sources/provenances as I can.



Gentiana verna can grow quite big in grass.


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Here the grass is very short.


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Also Gentianella campestris can grow in rather dense grass.


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Here the soil is more sandy.


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Gentiana purpurea in the meadow.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2020, 08:32:29 AM by Hoy »
Trond Hoy, gardening on the rainy west coast of Norway.

Catwheazle

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Re: Growing European gentians in a lawn meadow area
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2020, 08:34:49 AM »
<G. verna and campastris have "always" been there....

so the perfect location and soil is there :-) (* envy *)
I guess it is easier to keep high mountain plants in Norway than e.g. in Wales or in southern Germany. (After all, I am lucky to live in the appropriate altitude in the mountains, with the corresponding frequent rainfall, long winters and - comparatively - cooler summer temperatures)
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Hoy

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Re: Growing European gentians in a lawn meadow area
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2020, 08:17:55 PM »
<G. verna and campastris have "always" been there....

so the perfect location and soil is there :-) (* envy *)
I guess it is easier to keep high mountain plants in Norway than e.g. in Wales or in southern Germany. (After all, I am lucky to live in the appropriate altitude in the mountains, with the corresponding frequent rainfall, long winters and - comparatively - cooler summer temperatures)

Oh yes, in the mountains in S Norway and in the north it is not very difficult to grow alpine plants. But along the coast in south it is not easy. Where I live we have almost no winter at all.
Trond Hoy, gardening on the rainy west coast of Norway.

Tristan_He

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Re: Growing European gentians in a lawn meadow area
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2020, 11:23:57 PM »
Beautiful photos Trond!

Funnily enough I don't find the taller European gentians (lutea / purpurea etc) at all easy. They just never seem to settle here.  ???

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One of the acaulis in its new home...

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...and when I divided the plants there were quite a lot of smaller pieces that I thought could do with establishing a bit before planting out. So I should have plenty of material to play with!

We hardly seem to get winters here at all these days, just a handful of frosty nights.  :-\ Even so, most of the alpines seem to do ok once established.

Hoy

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Re: Growing European gentians in a lawn meadow area
« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2020, 07:36:48 AM »
Beautiful photos Trond!

Funnily enough I don't find the taller European gentians (lutea / purpurea etc) at all easy. They just never seem to settle here.  ???
.......


Thanks Tristan.

I can send you seeds of G. purpurea if you are interested. It seems you have a nice batch of acaulis to try!


Not easy to see but there are hundreds of Gentianella campestris in this photograph!

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This species of hemiparasitic Euphrasia also weaken the grass.

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« Last Edit: August 22, 2020, 07:38:48 AM by Hoy »
Trond Hoy, gardening on the rainy west coast of Norway.

Tristan_He

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Re: Growing European gentians in a lawn meadow area
« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2020, 10:51:49 AM »
Hi Trond, thanks for the reminder about the Euphrasia - there are lots in the next door meadow which I have meant to collect seed from for years but always forget. When (if?) it stops raining I will go and have a look.

Where does you G. purpurea grow, does it like particularly damp or cool places for example? I find it difficult to grow both in pots and in the garden. It's a shame as it and the other big European gentians are very pretty. I can only think that it is missing something. I'd like to try again though, maybe the Norse strain is tougher!

The only one of these big gentians I have found fairly easy to cultivate is G. crassicaulis, but that is scarcely worth growing.  :(

Hoy

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Re: Growing European gentians in a lawn meadow area
« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2020, 04:06:55 PM »
Tristan,

G. purpurea has a wide ecological amplitude I think. Except very hot, very moist and very dry sites you can find in birch forests, montane meadows, grassland, among heathers (Calluna, Empetrum and Vaccinium) and junipers and even in road verges.

It seems to sprout easily but the seedlings are very slow and need several years to achieve flowering size.
Trond Hoy, gardening on the rainy west coast of Norway.

Maggi Young

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Re: Growing European gentians in a lawn meadow area
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2020, 12:37:53 PM »
Re.:  Euphrasia  - these  are  such enchanting  little  flowers - sadly, in most  species  such tiny  flowers  that without  magnification they are  often completely  overlooked. sigh !
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Hoy

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Re: Growing European gentians in a lawn meadow area
« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2020, 01:02:32 PM »
Here are a few, Maggi - not overlooked!

1 - 3 are from Norway, 4 is from Argentina. Hope the names are correct!


Euphrasia wettsteinii

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E. frigida

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E. stricta

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E. chrysantha

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Trond Hoy, gardening on the rainy west coast of Norway.

 


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