There is something particularly appealing about an alpine bearing flowers which look too big for its body – colourful blooms above a rosette of dark green leaves. Ramonda fits the bill – its 1.5 in. flowers are deep lavender with a central boss of bright orange stamens. Unfortunately it is not an easy plant to grow – it requires the same treatment as Haberlea to which it is related. To avoid rotting in winter it should be planted sideways in a crack or crevice in a north-facing rockery or wall.

VARIETIES: R. myconii is the most popular variety – height 4 in., spread 9 in.

Flowering period: April-May. The evergreen leaves are rough and crinkled – the flat-faced flowers are deep lavender. Varieties are available – ‘Rosea’ (pink) and ‘Alba’ (white). The other species are less common – R. serbica and R. nathaliae are very similar to and no better than R. myconii.

SITE AND SOIL: Well-drained but damp soil with little or no direct sun.

PROPAGATION: Plant healthy mature leaves as cuttings in a cold frame in summer. Alternatively divide clumps in autumn.

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