Alchemilla alchemilla, lady’s mantle

Height: 15-45cm (6-18in)

Planting distance: 23-38cm (9-15in)

Features: flowers summer

Soil: ordinary, well-drained

Site: sun or partial shade

Type: herbaceous

A frothy mass of tiny, delicate, star-shaped flowers and long-lasting foliage have made alchemilla a favourite of gardeners and flower arrangers alike. It blooms from early to late summer, with flowers ranging from pale yellow to green. The leaves are rounded or divided into narrow leaflets.

Alchemilla is a versatile perennial – it harmonizes with many other plants and spreads rapidly, making it useful both for ground cover in sun or partial shade and at the front of a border, perhaps spilling over on to a path.

Popular species

Alchemilla alpina has clusters of green flowers and its leaves are divided into narrow leaflets, green above and silvery below. It reaches a height of 23cm (9in) and a spread of

Alchemilla erythropoda has a height of 15cm (6in) and a spread of 25cm (10in). The leaves have a bluish tinge and the flowers are pale yellow, sometimes tinged red. Alchemilla mollis, the best-known species, has loose, cloudy sprays of tin’, yellow-green flowers on intricately branched heads. The leaves have rounded lobes with serrated edges and are covered with a fine down which traps dew, making them glisten in early morning sunlight. It reaches a height of 45cm ( I ‘It) or more and a spread of 38cm (I .8 in).

Cultivation

Plant from mid autumn to early spring in a sunny or partially shaded position in any ordinary, well-drained garden soil.

In exposed spots, A. mollis may require twiggy sticks tor support. It self-seeds readily, so cut back its stems to 2.5cm ( 1 in) above the ground after (lowering, to prevent it becoming invasive.

Propagation: Sow alchemilla in early spring in seed compost in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings and harden oil in a nursery bed. Plant out in permanent positions between mid autumn and early spring.

Alternatively, divide and replant immediately between mid autumn and early spring.

Pests and diseases: Alchemilla is generally trouble tree.

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