One to look out for, Autumn 2016
Of all the truly choice, high-alpine Himalayan Gentian species that are available in the horticultural trade, Gentiana depressa fits the bill. This species, despite its availability is still quite demanding of culture and I have not found it to be long-lived in the open garden. On occasion I have admired in awe, large pans of this species in a friend’s alpine house or taking pride of place on the Show bench! Part of me (still wearing my nurseryman’s cap) thinks it is time that such a plant should be knocked out of its pan after flowering and when starting into growth and divided up into a multitude of little plants ready for the nursery frame.
Understanding the plants habitat in nature will determine the best spot and conditions for growing it. Gentiana depressa can be found in the Himalaya from Central Nepal to S.E. Tibet ascending to true alpine limits between 3350 – 4250m. In the Langtang and Gosainkund region in C. Nepal it may be seen growing in large colonies growing on acutely drained grassy banks and hummocks where it forms tufted rosettes with spreading stems that pop up at least 15cm from the basal roots. In nature it flowers in October (a little earlier in the UK) with delightful upturning pale blue or greenish-blue, broadly bell-shaped flowers sitting neatly in the rosettes of foliage. Occasional white flower forms may be seen in the wild as well as hybrids with the equally beautiful G. ornata.
Recognising that this high altitude species enjoys fine drainage and clear air movement will determine an open position in the garden. Winter snow cover demands that we offer some winter protection from the vagaries of our winters and give it a cloche cover. I would plant it between stones in a well-drained mixture containing plenty of leaf mould. Propagation can be carried out from saving seed as well as taking cuttings from non-flowering shoots or division of established clumps.
Aberconwy Nursery, 01492 580875