Cho­sen by plant hunter

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - GARDENING -

When think­ing of saxifraga, you might en­vis­age the sim­ple alpine spec­i­mens that flower in sum­mer and hug the ground.

How­ever, the Sax­ifra­gaceae fam­ily is de­cep­tively ex­ten­sive, with around 640 known species in 33 ac­cepted gen­era, and of­fers some unusual lateflowering va­ri­eties. This hand-picked col­lec­tion flour­ishes later in the sea­son, bring­ing much­needed vi­brancy and in­ter­est to your gar­den dur­ing the colder months. They’re ex­cel­lent at em­bel­lish­ing shady ar­eas with grace, while their starry blooms sparkle with bound­less del­i­cacy and in­trigue. Team with other wood­land­dwelling peren­ni­als such as As­ple­nium scolopen­drium or epimedium and watch them thrive in slightly er­i­ca­ceous, hu­mus-rich, well-drained soil. Height and spread 8in-1ft (20-30cm).

From Septem­ber to Novem­ber, this va­ri­ety’s neat rosettes of glossy green fo­liage are topped with masses of bright-white flow­ers with sparkling yel­low cen­tres. Up close, they of­fer a raggedy splayed charm and their stems are some­times flushed red. Even though the fo­liage is de­cid­u­ous, it’s a lovely spec­i­men to com­bine in rock­eries and con­tain­ers.

This re­cently in­tro­duced Ja­panese wood­land saxifraga cre­ates an abun­dance of winered, star-shaped flow­ers above suc­cu­lent ev­er­green fo­liage that blushes ruby red in au­tumn. Its ex­u­ber­antly over­sized bracts en­com­pass the flow­ers, which ar­rive from Oc­to­ber to Novem­ber and ap­pear on short, stout stems.

‘Gokka’ is florif­er­ous and in your face – plant it in a pot and watch it steal the show. Its rounded clumps of scal­loped leaves are fleshy to the touch and nes­tle neatly be­low flam­boy­ant, cerise-pink petals. Re­peat through the front of a semi-shaded bor­der, or pair with blue-flow­ered plants for a mar­vel­lous colour con­trast from Septem­ber to Novem­ber.

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