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Author Topic: Alpine Meadows  (Read 15447 times)

ian mcenery

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Re: Alpine Meadows
« Reply #45 on: March 05, 2010, 12:26:00 AM »
Cohan this is Alpine turf under the Eiger north wall

thanks ian, lovely spot;
at that season the grasses are not very prominent, any ideas how much that changes later on?



Cohan at that altitude this tends to stay as turf. These areas are often between screes and  were previouly scree now stabilised. If the grasses were more vigorous some of the plants might not survive the competition. The photo was taken in the last week in June so it is a short growing season
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Lori S.

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Re: Alpine Meadows
« Reply #46 on: March 05, 2010, 05:32:18 AM »
Here's a similar sort of environment, closer to home (~2200-2400m elevation), in a drier area.   The grass species are naturally small, and the harsh conditions contribute, as well, to keeping them compact, no doubt...


 
« Last Edit: March 05, 2010, 06:12:48 AM by Lori Skulski »
Lori
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Sinchets

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Re: Alpine Meadows
« Reply #47 on: March 05, 2010, 03:03:13 PM »
One other thing to consider, which I am not sure has been touched on yet is that alpine or montane meadows can spend the winter under snow and growth more or less stops. [sound familiar Cohan?] So when the snow melts the bulbs and spring flowers really do have a headstart on the grasses and perennials. They will continue to grow as the grass grows around them and by the time the grass and perennials are reaching their full height the bulbs are dormant. This will not be the case in climates with no winter snow as the herbaceosu plants can carry on growing through the winter months, albeit more slowly.
We were lucky that the meadow at the top of our garden is a good piece of pasture, which hasn't been seeded with ryegrass like the lower part of the garden. It has grass but it never grows too strong and has maybe 25-30 species of native meadow plants. This is the area we have started to plant with bulbs and Chris' terrestrial orchid collection. The bulbs flower after the snow melts and before the meadow plants start growing and the orchids, which formed their leaf rosettes in autumn, will flower as the grass grows a little taller. I am sure this is not a coincidence as we notice that the cows are put on the pastures after the snow melt, but taken off after it has all been grazed short so that the grass can grow for haymaking. Flowering too early would mean risking being eaten or trampled! We take our cue from the neighbours and cut the grass when the hay is being cut at the end of June. Another cut, as Franz suggested, before the autumn rains leaves the grass short enough for the Colchicums to be seen. This also mimics the cattle being put back on the meadow after the hay has been dried and collected in the summer and early autumn rains have encouraged a fresh flush of greenery. The fact that the pastures are used for grazing only a few times a year helps encourage diversity, and to me it is this diversity which prevents a few of the species taking over to the detriment of the rest. Our upper meadow has Achillea millefolium in it naturally and this never grows as tall as it does on the sides of the ditch outside our property, which are grazed year round by our neighbour's livestock.
I sowed Cyclamen coum into the meadow 4 years ago and forgot about them- until this month as they are flowering for the first time. We will be collecting Crocus, Colchicum and reticulate Iris seed this summer to sow into the meadow, as we hope this will allow the seeds to make their own way into the mat of roots without having to cut through it when planting adult bulbs. The main reason for this being we don't want to make it easy for the voles to find the bulbs!
A mediterranean-type meadow works on a different cycle in that the perennial plants will be growing from autumn to spring and spend the summer dormant as the soil has dried out. You don't need a mediterranean climate to grow "mediterranean" bulbs. Many Crocus, Colchicum and Tulipa from parts of the Med are hardy enough in the open garden and are programmed to flower in autumn or spring- either side of the main period of perennial plant growth. We have mediterranean type plantings here, where the main 'action' is in autumn or spring, with drought tolerant plantings giving attraction during the summer months. These plants are cut back in autumn to allow light and water through to the bulb plantings.
The oldest parts of our garden are now into their 3rd year so we have yet to see how well this will all work, but I have certainly learned that direct sowing of seeds works better than trying to establish plants in the meadow from 'plugs'.
Simon
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Ragged Robin

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Re: Alpine Meadows
« Reply #48 on: March 05, 2010, 05:11:30 PM »
Simon, this is a really interesting and useful report based on your experiences and observations and it is almost identical to meadows here although I think the grasses perhaps grow taller (can be waist high) and there are numerous varieties. The early crocus cover the high meadow floor after snowmelt and as they go over the grass begins to grow.

Seed is definitely the way to go to avoid bulbs being discovered and to let them really establish - I am experimenting with seed this year.  It will also be interesting to see if by leaving our patch until August we get more late flowering wild flowers. 

One thing I find strange is that the next door garden is full of orchids on a bank next to ours but we only have one!  I'm trying to rectify the situation as he sees fit to strim them in flower  :o
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Sinchets

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Re: Alpine Meadows
« Reply #49 on: March 05, 2010, 06:16:13 PM »
One thing I find strange is that the next door garden is full of orchids on a bank next to ours but we only have one!  I'm trying to rectify the situation as he sees fit to strim them in flower  :o
Do you know what the history of your plot is from before you bought it, Robin. If you have any nearby which set seed you could try collecting seed and scattering it in appropriate places- it worked for us  ;)
Simon
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Lowest winter (shade) temp -25C.
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cohan

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Re: Alpine Meadows
« Reply #50 on: March 05, 2010, 07:51:04 PM »
tks for the input everone!
lor--lovely shots of a great place-i've looked for seed of naturally low growing grasses, but haven't seen much that looked useful/interesting--though i may have been looking for really tiny things-10-20cm, i might be more easily able to find things that go to 30cm;
i will have to watch for wild seed of small plants--then test them, since i think many of them grow smaller in extreme places than they would here..

simon--grass, and everything else, definitely stops growing over winter! in fact i don't have to mow the grass usually after sometime in august, not late, either--although where other things like clover and the ever present poplar suckers are coming up, it might need later attention..
probably the early bulbs would be able to flower before grass grew much, as it is totally brown and starting from scratch in the spring; however, i don't think your rhythms for cutting would work here, unless it was a high scythe cut, since, as lori mentioned, the bulb foliage would not be finished in june, likely (late june is also haying time here, depending on the year) and native meadow plants  are really just getting going in late june, so i think the only time i could mow a grassy meadow would be after frost! so probably, its looking like, whatever i plant with early bulbs will have to stay low on its own; taller meadow species should be able to hold their own in taller grasses, and i can put them in areas that can just grow free-cutting late just to keep dead grasses from building up; but i'll just have to do some trying and watching..
hopefully we can see some pics of your meadow through the season! yours too, robin :)

Ragged Robin

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Re: Alpine Meadows
« Reply #51 on: March 06, 2010, 10:10:32 AM »
One thing I find strange is that the next door garden is full of orchids on a bank next to ours but we only have one!  I'm trying to rectify the situation as he sees fit to strim them in flower  :o
Do you know what the history of your plot is from before you bought it, Robin. If you have any nearby which set seed you could try collecting seed and scattering it in appropriate places- it worked for us  ;)

Thanks Simon,  I'll try that this year if he leaves any to set seed!  I suppose our soil has been more disturbed with building than his back slope and maybe this accounts for the lack of flowers on our bank because I am amazed that the orchids appear each year in wilder patches of the gardens in spite of being strimmed like lawns  :o
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Sinchets

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Re: Alpine Meadows
« Reply #52 on: March 06, 2010, 10:18:02 AM »
Robin, I suppose the good news may be that strimming and removing the flowerstems could be letting the orchids put energy into making more replacements underground. If you're feeling brave you could always ask your neighbour for permission to transplant some of his orchids into your bank.
Simon
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Stara Planina, Bulgaria. Altitude 482m.
Lowest winter (shade) temp -25C.
Highest summer (shade) temp 35C.

Ragged Robin

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Re: Alpine Meadows
« Reply #53 on: March 06, 2010, 11:28:26 AM »
I can still appreciate his from a distance but if i did ask when would be the best time to transplant them Simon?
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gote

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Re: Alpine Meadows
« Reply #54 on: March 08, 2010, 01:20:50 PM »
In my case, The grasses are naturally occuring meadow grasses. They become knee high or a little less just as the perennials that come naturally. The first picture shows Lilium sachalinense in the grass in July. This flower shape makes a lot of sense in a meadow. The flowers are well visible to pollinators from above but the umbel keeps them all at the same height - out of high winds and the tepals protect the interior from being hit by the grass.
The perennials - including the grasses - start growing later than the bulbs as can be seen in the previous posting. Thus the bulbs have a good start. This lateness is not due to snow but to a generally low winter temperature. At the time I cut the meadow (not with a scyte but with a small hay cutter) the perennials have more or less stopped growing. Usually I cut even shorter with a lawnmover as soon as the hay is taken away.
I enclose a picture of one of the "naturals" and also an overview of the site.
This is of course a lowland meadow and by far not as colurful as the ones in the Alps.
Cheers
Göte
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Sinchets

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Re: Alpine Meadows
« Reply #55 on: March 08, 2010, 01:40:56 PM »
It always amazes the plasticity of some plants. We have seen Platanthera growing out in grassland in western Scotland, but it never grows like that here always being found in woodland in deep shade. Great to see yours in the open, Gote.
Simon
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Lowest winter (shade) temp -25C.
Highest summer (shade) temp 35C.

gote

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Re: Alpine Meadows
« Reply #56 on: March 08, 2010, 01:51:09 PM »
It always amazes the plasticity of some plants. We have seen Platanthera growing out in grassland in western Scotland, but it never grows like that here always being found in woodland in deep shade. Great to see yours in the open, Gote.
You probably have higher summer day temperatures than I have. Could that be a reason??
Göte
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cohan

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Re: Alpine Meadows
« Reply #57 on: March 08, 2010, 06:39:08 PM »
nice views gote--we have similar habitat here, though grass heights vary in different places; (our platanthera species--locally, i mean, not provincially- grow in open or wooded places, usually damp, and are all rather greenish and not very showy)..
the local lilium philadelphicum looks much the same as your lily, in those views; however, asters are a prominent feature in natural meadows here, and flower mid to late summer, basically up to heavy frost, along with some plants of geranium and solidago..
perhaps a bulb area would simply have to be kept free of late blooming species, or just mow after frost..

gote

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Re: Alpine Meadows
« Reply #58 on: March 09, 2010, 08:04:18 AM »
It always amazes the plasticity of some plants. We have seen Platanthera growing out in grassland in western Scotland, but it never grows like that here always being found in woodland in deep shade. Great to see yours in the open, Gote.
Another idea:
Is your Platanthera bifolia or chlorantha? I have no bifolia at all and when I tried to introduce it it failed.
The chloranthas definitely prefer my meadow and grows also in surprisingly dry areas nearly up to the place where Saxifraga granulata grows naturally.
However, I have single specimen also in the dark forest.
Göte
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gote

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Re: Alpine Meadows
« Reply #59 on: March 09, 2010, 08:11:45 AM »
In Sweden we have but a single species of Aster (of course it recently was removed from Aster  :o ) and that in the costal area. What I have is various hieraciums (Some of which recently have been removed from hieracium  :o ) These are so difficult to identify that I do not attempt.  :-\
The reason I cut the perennials down as early as late August is of course that i want my Crocus speciosus to show themselves. I try to cut as late as possible in order to allow seed dispersal.
This is a kind of Scylla/Carybdis situation.
Cheers
Göte
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