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Author Topic: Haut Chitelet Alpine Garden (France)  (Read 83517 times)

cohan

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Re: Haut Chitelet Alpine Garden (France)
« Reply #45 on: April 09, 2012, 07:55:18 AM »
Interesting, it's all well water out here......

Lesley Cox

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Re: Haut Chitelet Alpine Garden (France)
« Reply #46 on: April 09, 2012, 08:44:18 PM »
No Rob. We do have a spring but we're at the top of a hill and it is mucky and would literally take thousands to clean it out, which we don't have. Besides because of a falling water table over recent years, no further resource consents are being issued to take ground water in the area.

A few years back the local council offered to connect water to all households in the area but at a price of approx $20,000 per household. Where we live there are some very rich people and some very poor. It just wasn't an option for those. I'd have to say that nowadays we're among the latter.
Lesley Cox - near Dunedin, lower east coast, South Island of New Zealand - Zone 9

Philippe

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Re: Haut Chitelet Alpine Garden (France)
« Reply #47 on: May 01, 2012, 10:47:55 AM »
Season 2012 arrival at the alpine garden

After some very hot days of late this April, it's time to think about moving up to the alpine garden. I left the lowland with 25C, which were already quite a refreshment after the 30C we had the day
just before. Air is moist, warm, it really feels as if summer had begun.
Coming to the alpine garden, about 100kms further away, and after 1 km in height, the contrast is really striking: thunderstorm rainshower, little hail, and 8C! Plenty of snow still laying around
from last winter. This IS now true refreshment!
Fortunately, due to the extra heat we had on the last week-end of April, the rocks could warm up and speed up snow melt around in the beds, but the way down to the house where we live in
summer, in the lower part of the garden, was still thickly covered with snow, sometimes up to 1 meter high. One of the first tasks of this 2012 season will be snow shoveling in the ways. Sun and
positive temperatures will help a lot of course, but this main way and the others amongst the beds have to be snowfree the soonest possible: lot of work in the garden, with trees branches broken
everywhere, and here and there a complete tree which was thrown down to the soil: our work vehicule must absolutely be able to get to this places

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First snow obstacle right next to the road.

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Second one near the garden entrance...And then many others further on the way down to the house.

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After shoveling. For the moment only one line, which should be broadened soon if the weather doesn't help quick enough meanwhile.
Of course we vould have prefered all this snow to be a bit longer on the beds rather than mainly on the ways. The winter was not particularly snowy, there has never been great amounts of snow at
once, but rather little on several occasions during December and January, with temporary superficial meltings in between, turning the snow surface rather wet quite soon. The strong cold wave in
February just transformed this wet snow surface in a thick and most hardest ice layer, which took a very long time to melt, even after the very mild and sunny March. Then came April, with new
snow, and fresh temperatures.

Some other views of the garden.

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Water everywhere. Himalayan part to the left, completely snowfree as you see, allowing the traditionnal Primula rosea and P.denticulata to come in flowers, and other Meconopsis to slowly
emerge from the ground ( even Rheum nobile seems to be with us again this year, with a wee new shoot coming right now!) China bed on the right, more sheltered from the afternoon sun, and
therefore still covered with snow.

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The ultimate torture for me: the multiplication beds in the middle- and background, really slowly showing what is growing and what is not growing under the snow. I couldn't yet give an eye to the
so beloved sowing pots bed ( just under the house), one thing I am really impatiently waiting for hour after hour...But well, so far with no result. This part of the garden is turned toward north and the
snow tends to accumulate here every winter, and it's almost always the last place where it melts.
On the foreground there are big pots which were used these last years by a student for an essay on Arnica montana.

NE-France,Haut-Chitelet alpine garden,1200 m.asl
Rather cool/wet summer,reliable 4/5 months winter snow cover
Annual precip:200/250cm,3.5C mean annual temp.

Philippe

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Re: Haut Chitelet Alpine Garden (France)
« Reply #48 on: May 01, 2012, 10:49:40 AM »
Some plants coming into growth now.

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Androsace carnea ssp.laggeri

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Androsace hedraeantha

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Lysichiton americanum

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Meconopsis integrifolia

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Plantago nivalis

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Primula rosea

It's such a pleasure to see how the vegetation develops day after day, slowly, with the snow disappearing around. Last year, this was completely different: the garden was totally snowfree after a
really snow poor winter and an early and very warm and dry spring. Plants were about one month sooner than this year, and watering had to be made for the asiatic beds.

Next report probably within 10/12 days.
( really sorry if my english sounds so elementary on the whole)
NE-France,Haut-Chitelet alpine garden,1200 m.asl
Rather cool/wet summer,reliable 4/5 months winter snow cover
Annual precip:200/250cm,3.5C mean annual temp.

Maggi Young

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Re: Haut Chitelet Alpine Garden (France)
« Reply #49 on: May 01, 2012, 03:47:34 PM »
Hopw frustrating for you, Philippe, that there is still so much snow lying....  but in the wrong places!

As you say, a better snow cover over the beds would have been more useful all winter and even now.


There are some delightful signs of spring in the flowers you show- something to give you good heart for the coming weeks.
A pleasure to be able to see these photos from you and see what is happening in the garden  :)
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

Editor: International Rock Gardener e-magazine

cohan

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Re: Haut Chitelet Alpine Garden (France)
« Reply #50 on: May 04, 2012, 06:57:48 PM »
Great to see the update! Lots of snow, but lots of flowers too!
My snow is gone a bit earlier this year- I have only maybe a few handfuls in one shady spot...

Your english is more than adequate and certainly better than my french- I can get by but never learned to talk about plants/gardens...lol

Philippe

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Re: Haut Chitelet Alpine Garden (France)
« Reply #51 on: May 15, 2012, 07:47:41 PM »
First half May 2012

Two weeks have passed. Could have said much water has flown under the bridge since then, as we say in french, but much snow has melted is here simply clearly more appropriated ;) Although we are right now having snowfall again, beginning to turn the soil white, and even more is forecasted tomorrow.

As usual for a mountain site, we had a bit from all possible weather, from light morning frost those last days untill high summer temperatures last week ( 22C on one day and 25C the following one, which was really
surprising for early may, as this is usual nearly the top of what a normal summer can bring us). From thick fog to bright sunshine, thunderstorm, sleet, and now snow and cold temperatures, below freezing point. Not a really good point, as the beech new foliage has just emerged, and is at this stage eminently vulnerable to late frost, which make the leaves turn completely brown and dessicated for a while, untill new ones arrive several weeks later. Beech is the main tree species growing in the forest here.

The alpines should be ok with that late winter come back. Probably one or two already more grown species will suffer from a heavy and wet sticky snow though.

We have spent a few days making the walk-ways and the beds clean of all the numerous winter remnants ( branches, empty beeches fruits literally in thousands this year).
A big task, as every year, is to lift up all the plastic labels that are laid down every autumn before we leave. The weight of snow in winter combinated to the general sloping configuration of the garden can break easily those plastic labels, or sometimes even twist the metal on which they are put.
Most part of the sowing 2012 was also made, and rainy or wet cold days were worked indoors at the pricking out of species germinated last year, liliaceous species first of all, before some of them disappear  again for
their summer rest in a few weeks.
The better days were used to undertake the seemingly endless weeding task, an important and privileged moment though to come pretty close to the plants and sometimes really see what's ok and what's not.

As the vegetation in the garden is not so advanced as last year, we have time to do other things meanwhile, which is appreciable : it was urgent to renew our old bog stone trough, in which we present and label the local vegetation of the natural bogs of the region, including insectivorous plants. This trough is generally much appreciated by the public, because being of easy access, near eye looking, and simply because the natural bog situated in the lower part of the garden is not really shown off for the moment ( the smallest plants cannot be shown there).

Here some pics of the renewal of the trough.



As you see, many pernicious grasses have settled down here and there, within sphagnum and among droseras, which makes a weed action almost impossible without disturbing the cultivated plants. Above all the
underground wasn't that good anymore. The original peat was strongly deteriorated, and sphagnum could only grow where there was already some. It might look beautiful on the pic, but from near on, that wasn't that beautiful anymore.



So everything was put out of the trough, plants, sphagnum, old decayed peat, letting appear the surplus water black pipe on the left, and the water supply yellow pipe on the right.



Some wood on the ground to ensure good water movement below, a plastic grid above to limit peat migration in the lower part, under the grid, and that is all.
Peat was put in again, some relief created, and sphagnum planted again ( after carefully selection)



The finished trough, with the hope that sphagnum will quickly settle down everywhere again, so that we can rapidly plant and label the traditional bog plants that were presented before.


This was also the occasion to bring at last a little water to the China bed, as the surplus water from this bog trough is now constantly led through an underground pipe directly in the bed a few meters further away. Of
course, it's just a simple brooklet and I would wish there was much much more, but this is just impossible now this way, as the initial water supply of the bog trough also brings water stream to the Alps. Better than nothing though, I can get some place in the China bed which can at least be soaked from time to time by just opening the pipe during a few hours, probably in sight of a future chinese wet meadow display. Actually nearly all chinese waterside plants are presently planted into the himalayan bed where the little river Vologne can provide them what they really need.
I guess this new wet place in the chinese part will soon be fully occupied again, and wish - need- for further expansion should reappear very quickly...As the thoughts about how to make it or try to find a solution to get the things better suited to those chinese wet soil plants.

Making the jump over the Pacific ocean to North America. I had already spoken in a previous post about the lysichiton americanus and its tendency to escape out of the garden by following the stream. We have spent a
half day to the traditional lysichiton track game by following the stream downwards, and upwards again over 3 kilometers under the garden. But fortunately very little was found, and almost all just immediately below the
garden. ( 2 or 3 years seedlings, which are often too small to be easily seen among the surrounding vegetation during their first years, and some bigger ones, but always non flowering, probably not more than 4 years).
Nevertheless all adult plants in the garden were already mercilessly ripped off their flowering and future fruiting part, so that there is less to fear about further escapes the following year.




Different sized beautiful samples of flowering spikes and spathes ( to be put in alcohol for other purposes)

Now a few flower pics from the past 2 weeks:


Crocus vernus ssp.albiflorus


Himalayan stream


Hutchinsia alpina. A modest tiny plant, but easily sowing itself in screes.


Primula clusiana


Pulsatilla vernalis. Unfortunately the flowers have their best days behind now: the falling snow plus freezing temperatures will probably leave their marks.
NE-France,Haut-Chitelet alpine garden,1200 m.asl
Rather cool/wet summer,reliable 4/5 months winter snow cover
Annual precip:200/250cm,3.5C mean annual temp.

Philippe

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Re: Haut Chitelet Alpine Garden (France)
« Reply #52 on: May 15, 2012, 07:50:06 PM »

Adonis vernalis


Ranunculus alpestris


Soldanella pusilla


A pic of the saxifraga collection ( mostly hybrids). Every plant is at least doubled, the ones above on the pic are divisions from last year. The mother plants are placed in another multiplication bed.




A third part of the saxifragas is also planted directly in dedicated beds: one in the public area, and another one again in the non public area. So we have sometimes 3 or 4 divisions of the same plant dispatched between both multiplication beds and both cultivated beds. Survival of each species is improved this way, not a totally superfluous task, as cultivation conditions in pots are not always the best ( pots are all plastic, clay can't be used here because of winter exposure to every kind of weather)
Here under a very short selection of some saxifragas, which are now wonderfull.


Saxifraga x elisabethae 'Mars'


Saxifraga x megasaeflora 'Radka'


Saxifraga x poluanglica 'Honington'
NE-France,Haut-Chitelet alpine garden,1200 m.asl
Rather cool/wet summer,reliable 4/5 months winter snow cover
Annual precip:200/250cm,3.5C mean annual temp.

Philippe

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Re: Haut Chitelet Alpine Garden (France)
« Reply #53 on: May 15, 2012, 07:51:01 PM »


Consequence of an unexpected violent sunny day on plants that have just come out of their winter rest, having only had cool temperatures and mostly overcast weather for their first 8/10 days of growth. The shock was great for them. Here is only the useless Senecio cordatus growing on a streamside. But this made me think about some other far more precious jewels from the Himalaya, Rheum nobile for example. The 5 survivors of the winter are planted on a north slope in the himalayan bed, among bigger rocks, so the hot weather wasn't that worse for them. They nevertheless deserve special treatment from me ;)



You won't see the rheum on the pic, which is just about to unfold its second new leave, but, yes, you will probably see some cooling melting snow around. This makes me again think of some strategy for the warm sunny days of the summer to come...There won't be snow anymore, but maybe it would be possible to lay some fridge ice blocks around the nobile during late afternoon, providing a bit of cooling effect sooner before the evening, and cold water for the roots. This of course is only feasable for smaller plants, what they actually still are for the moment.

Here a last pic, taken a few minutes ago...



NE-France,Haut-Chitelet alpine garden,1200 m.asl
Rather cool/wet summer,reliable 4/5 months winter snow cover
Annual precip:200/250cm,3.5C mean annual temp.

ronm

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Re: Haut Chitelet Alpine Garden (France)
« Reply #54 on: May 15, 2012, 08:07:25 PM »
Amazing reading,  8) 8). Thank you ;D

cohan

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Re: Haut Chitelet Alpine Garden (France)
« Reply #55 on: May 15, 2012, 11:06:28 PM »
Wonderful update! I appreciate both the notes on the work of the garden and the beautiful plant portraits :)

Philippe

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Re: Haut Chitelet Alpine Garden (France)
« Reply #56 on: May 30, 2012, 06:09:40 PM »
Second half May 2012



We made it, and finally had 10 cms of fresh snow on the morning of the 15th.May.
This is not absolutely extraordinary to get snow in May, but it was already a few years ago it didn't happen so late in the month.

I feared for the beech-foliage, but fortunately, the snow helped a little and gave some shelter to the new leaves. The temperature dropped below 0C for 24/36 hours, with a peak -modest, to -2C. Some trees actually appeared to have suffered from these negative temperatures, associated to cold north eastern winds, but it could have been really worse.



Sun coming out again on the next day, with primulas emerging from the melting snow.

 
Beside the usual weed task, and early plantations, some hours have been spent working in the liliaceous multiplication bed, improving the soil mix, a thing I already wanted to do for one or 2 years.
The liliaceous plants are not that much representated in the garden, or at least in the propagation area, nevertheless they really deserve more attention, as they grow very slowly here. I found the substrate simply too sandy and draining, with too restricted organic part, causing the plants to linger very long before reaching a reasonable size to be planted in the garden.



It was also the perfect occasion to reorganise the plantations better within the bed, and by doing such, free place has been made, so that new incomers will soon have the opportunity to enjoy a better fitted deep
humic/sandy mix.

Repotting of liliaceous has went on: too small to get in the propagation bed right now for most of them ( it would take too much place for so little plants), so they are just planted in a bigger pot with new mix to strenghten another year or 2 and put in another bed. This might be a good solution, as this way of doing allows to avoid root disturbance, just putting the 'old' rootballs into the slightly bigger new pots.
This is probably time win as the plants can immediately establish in the new pots during the whole summer, without having to recover from the root disturbance stress: by mid/late august, they must have more or less filled the pots with new roots.


As early June now approaches, inclusive garden opening for the public, it seems we are having a bit of summer those last days.
Already a bit of too much too: the tenth day without rain today, 7/8 of which were quite sunny ones,  warm in the sun, but still quite pleasing in the shadow or under a passing by cloud, but 3/4 days were only with sun from morning till evening associated with unceasing dessicating east winds night and day, the worst
thing that can happen, when there was already no rain for a few days.

So far this wouldn't yet be a big problem for most of the plants grown in the garden ( though it should also really not last very much longer now), except for one or another located in a particularly exposed, dry and drained situation. Fortunetaly it's not that warm, as daily highs are around 15/16 C. But nevertheless this isn't good for many of the asiatic plants, which should now receive their almost daily monsoon rain to support steady growth.
We are the monsoon therefore, with numerous watering cans ( no possibility of automatic watering system, which would however be a huge and very appreciable improvement for the garden). So Meconopsis,
Primula, Rheum, Cremanthodium, Trollius, aso, now regularly get fresh water every morning or evening since 4/5 days.

Having to cope with such a situation, so early in the season once again, always awakes the same questions: will it be still possible to grow some of those plants satisfactorily in the next years, and how?
The weather seems to head towards generally more warmth spells and less regular rains, with less or shorter periods of "normal" conditions. Changes which plants could have sometimes difficulties to adapt to.

I really had to think about the place I would plant some Cremanthodium yesterday, under bright sunshine and warm sun. Where do I have to go with them?
On such days ( which can clearly become warmer later in summer, when things turn wrong) I just come to the conclusion that most parts of the bed would not be suited to Cremanthodium for example, and have to find somewhere with some shade at least in the afternoon of the worst days.
Such places get scarce within the bed or are already occupied. Preparing a new bed on a better location would be the only reliable long term solution, and will once very soon probably have to be seriously undertaken if those plants are to be happily grown.


A little meteorologic retrospective of this may 2012

Monthly minimum mean temperature: 5.7C     ( 42F)
Monthly maximum mean temperature 13C    ( 55F)
Precipitation amount: 119.5mm     ( 4.7inches), cumulated on the first 20 days.
Highest temperature: 25C ( 2 times above the 20c mark)
Lowest temperature: -2C ( 4 times at or slightly under 0C)
Highest night temperature: 14C
Lowest day temperature: 1C

Some flowers pics.



Pulsatilla halleri ssp.styriaca, from the east european Alps



Our local Pulsatilla alpina ssp.alba.
Superficially like a Pulsatilla alpina ssp.alpina, but notably smaller in all parts, and, the most important, growing only on acidic soils ( P.alpina ssp.alpina grows on calcareous soils, and we have some difficulties to get it in its full beauty in the garden, not flowering every year, and when, never as generous as the native P.alpina ssp.alba, which is naturally at home here).



On the contrary, Pulsatilla alpina ssp.apiifolia grows without the least problem in the garden acidic and gritty soil. Some hybrids occur, for the frist time flowering this time, probably with P.alpina ssp.alba as the pic under
shows.



Producing much stronger plants than P.alpina apiifolia, with a creamy yellowish shade. Such hybrids may be beautiful of course, but in order to keep the species as pure as possible ( which is of course very random matter in a garden with open pollination), it will have to be replaced somewhere else, far away from true species P.apiifolia.



Vitaliana primuliflora



Androsace alpina, growing in full light, in a light soil mix. Care should be taken that it doesn't dry out, so this androsace has already profited from a generous watering during the last dry days. Seeds are not produced every year, but as we had really pollinating insect-friendly weather lastly, there should be a good amount of it this year.



Ranunculus alpestris
NE-France,Haut-Chitelet alpine garden,1200 m.asl
Rather cool/wet summer,reliable 4/5 months winter snow cover
Annual precip:200/250cm,3.5C mean annual temp.

Philippe

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Re: Haut Chitelet Alpine Garden (France)
« Reply #57 on: May 30, 2012, 06:11:16 PM »


Viola calcarata



Calceolaria uniflora 'Walter Shrimpton'



Corydalis cashmeriana



Fritillaria michailovskyi



Gentiana acaulis. I don't remember having seen this plant with such beautiful shaped flowers last year, as they are generally rather more long/straight, and surely without this elegant curve at the middle of the flower.



Meconopsis integrifolia leaf on a rainy day



Myosotis glabrescens



And a view of the surrounding landscape some 15/20 minutes away above the garden
« Last Edit: July 15, 2012, 06:37:01 AM by Philippe »
NE-France,Haut-Chitelet alpine garden,1200 m.asl
Rather cool/wet summer,reliable 4/5 months winter snow cover
Annual precip:200/250cm,3.5C mean annual temp.

Tim Ingram

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Re: Haut Chitelet Alpine Garden (France)
« Reply #58 on: May 30, 2012, 06:33:43 PM »
Philippe - very beautiful pictures, especially at beginning and end. The snow on the beech has to be seen to be believed! A most ethereal and romantic image.
Dr. Timothy John Ingram. Nurseryman & gardener with strong interest in plants of Mediterranean-type climates and dryland alpines. Garden in Kent, UK. www.coptonash.plus.com

Maggi Young

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Re: Haut Chitelet Alpine Garden (France)
« Reply #59 on: May 30, 2012, 06:55:33 PM »
Philippe, once more you transport us to the garden in the mountain...... wonderful, thank you!
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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