Alpine Summer Adventure

Bridget’s back from a holiday that’s inspired her to grow more alpines.

Alpine meadows in the Swiss Alps

Last summer I travelled with a friend by train from Colwall to a small village high up in the Swiss Alps called Wengen. The main object of the trip was to fulfil my dream of seeing Alpine meadow flowers in their natural habitat. We started off from St. Pancras station in London at 5.30am on a Eurostar train to Paris. After that we travelled on a TGV high-speed train through France to Basel on the Swiss/French Border. From Basel we travelled to Bern and by now we could see the high mountains in the distance.

From Bern we made our way through hills and valleys into the Bernese Oberland and onwards to Interlaken. The train journey along the vast lakes and up into the Laterbrunenen valley was truly breathtaking. The steep sided glacial valleys towered 1300m above us with waterfalls and mountain rivers filling the warm air with a fine mist. We wound our way up to Wengen on a little cog railway, now another 1000 metres above the Lauterbrunnen valley and with our first view of the magnificent snow capped Jungfrau mountain.

After our arrival, it was time to put on the walking boots and explore! The flowers changed as we gained altitude, to start with the lower slopes were full of thousands of vibrant colours. Flowers such as wild Azaleas, Helianthemum, Astrantia, Aconite, Anemone, Scabious and Aster create a carpet of yellows, reds and blues. This colourful palette is dotted with the delicate white lily flowers of Paradisia Liliastrum.

As we walked alongside banks of stony glacial moraines at the foot of the Eiger, the true Alpines clung to the scree slopes, nestling in crevices. Gentians as blue as the sky, saxifragas with masses of tiny white flowers, Gypsophilla, Dryas, Anemones and thousands more survive in this hostile landscape which is covered in snow for seven months of the year.

Every evening we collapsed with our heads full of flowers and watched the thunderstorms from our balcony. With a bottle of beer and some swiss chocolate as accompaniment, it was like being in heaven!

Now I’m back at the nursery in Colwall with a renewed enthusiasm for growing more Alpine plants. Perhaps one of the benefits will be the fact they will definitely survive the cold winters. Watch this space!

June 2011 Greenfingers Article  By Bridget, Caves Folly Nurseries

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