Almost every rockery bears a bright yellow patch of Alyssum saxatile in spring. Grow it by all means, but do not let it dominate the site-so many rockeries are spoilt by allowing Alyssum and Aubrietia to run riot. There are so many choicer if less vigorous alpines to grow which can be relied upon to provide colour when the yellows of Alyssum and the blues of Aubrietia have gone. When not in flower Alyssum is a greyish shrubby perennial which flourishes in poor soil. Trim the stems back once the flowers have faded – in this way you will prolong the life of the plant, keep it within bounds and improve next year’s display.

VARIETIES: A. saxatile is the basic species – height 9-12 in., spread f/i ft.

Flowering period: April-June. When in bloom the heads of bright yellow flowers may completely cover the plant. There are a number of named varieties which make a welcome change from the common-or-garden parent plant which isgrown nearly everywhere. ‘Citrinum’ bears pale yellow flowers and at the other end of the scale are the buff-coloured blooms of ‘Dudley Neville’. For double flowers choose the variety “Flore Pleno’ and if space is limited you can plant the dwarf ‘Compac-tum’ which grows only about 6 in. high. All these varieties of A. saxatile make fine rockery or wall plants but if you want a miniature then grow A. montanum. This May-flowering alpine grows about 4 in. tall and rarely spreads more than 1 ft.

SITE AND SOIL: Any well-drained garden soil will do – add lime if the land is acid. Thrives best in full sun.

PROPAGATION: Sow seeds of species (not named varieties) under glass in spring. With named varieties plant non-flowering cuttings in a cold frame in early summer.

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