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Alchemilla - Growing Guide
We now offer three species of Alchemilla which are the most fabulous spreading and self-seeding groundcover plants which can usually be found in one form or another in the majority of UK gardens. Recently at Northcourt Manor in the Isle of Wight I photographed Alchemilla mollis which had self-sown itself into an ancient set of circular steps leading up to a lawn. This is a perfect example of how well these plants can perform.
Alchemilla are exceptional plants both because of their foliage and their frothy displays of flowers. They have rounded or kidney shaped leaves which have silky hairs. The cymes of tiny green or yellowish flowers are good for cutting and we sometimes get asked for these for wedding bouquets.
Alchemilla are basically floriferous groundcover plants for the edge of a border, for a dry bank, a rookery (A. pectinatus) or simply for letting grow wild in a woodland context. The clumps divide and self-seed with ease and A. pectinatus sends out strong runners which root and can develop into plantlets, then new clumps, several inches or even feet away from the original plant.
A. mollis is drought tolerant and grows to around 2ft in height with established clumps wider than this. This species comes from the Caucasus and Turkey and it flowers from early summer to early autumn.
A. erythropoda is smaller growing with a height of only about 8in and a similar spread. The flowers appear in late spring to late summer. This species also comes from the Crimea and Turkey.
A. pectinatus was given to us originally by the head gardener on Garnish Island off the southern Irish coast where it grows wild. The plants are small, growing only to 3in or so in height, with tiny erect flower spikes in summer but the ability of these plants to spread and colonise is impressive.