Easy alpines are those that grow in ordinaryand form a good weed-free mat that can be used to drape a rock or low wall. These are in order of ‘flowering.
Arabis albida The well known arabis is a vigorous plant 6 in (15cm) high with masses of white flowers in spring.
Dryas octopetala (Mountain avens) This forms a neat mat of oak-shaped dark green leaves. Above it, in May, eight petalled white flowers rise to about 4 in (10 cm). The stems elongate as a fluff of leathery seeds form by June.
Phlox subulata (Moss phlox) A mossy mat of foliage 5 in (12.5cm) high and studded with flowers of various colours, depending on the variety, in May and June.
Saponaria ocymoides (Trailing soapwort) Another vigorous mat former with shiny leaves and pink flowers with a puffy little calyx in June.
‘Little Jock’ (Pink) One of the alpine pinks that grows 4-6 in (10- 15cm) tall. A mound (which spreads with age) of narrow grey leaves with double pink flowers above the foliage. All have a strong sweet clove scent. Other good varieties are ‘Pikes Pink’ with darker flowers, ‘Hidcote’ with deep red single flowers and ‘Waithman’s Beauty’ with single pink flowers.
Geranium ‘Ballerina’ Beautiful pink flowers with darker veins over a neat 4 in (10 cm) clump of round, dissected leaves. Geranium cinercum is a deep magenta with black eye, also flowering in June and July, with a few flowers later.
Campanula portenschlagiana (Alpine bluebell) There are a number of species and varieties and this is a vigorous one that can be invasive. Blue rather open flowers in June and July. Campanula carpatica flowers through the summer with open bowl-shaped flowers over the mounds of foliage. ‘Blue Chip’ is a nice blue, ‘White Star’ is a good white. They can seed themselves around a bit.
Thymus X citriodorus (Lemon scented thyme) A 6 in (15cm) cover of tiny leaves that is fairly weed- free. Needs a well drained soil and has small pink flowers in summer. ‘Aureus’ has golden leaves and ‘Silver Queen’ has grey leaves, edged in white. The crushed leaves have a lemony tang.
Polygonum affine ‘Dimity’ The long leaves form a good cover about 3 in (7.5cm) high and above them in summer 6 in (15cm) pokers of pink flowers spring up. These mature to deep red as the seeds ripen so the combination of the colours is very good right into the autumn.