Amazing alchemilla

It seems that alchemilla is a bit like Marmite - you either love it or hate it. But whatever you think, it's versatile and long-lasting says Harlow Carr horticulturist Russell Watkins

I like Marmite, love it, and don’t really see why everyone else doesn’t too. As for alchemilla, the fresh, tightly-packed, fan-like leaves opening early in the season look fantastic when smothered in jewel-like droplets of water, and the zingy, acid green flowers are long-lasting, both on the plant and as a cut flower.

water droplets on alchemilla Alchemilla mollis AGM is the sort of plant that most people have in their gardens. It does well in a variety of situations. The acidic tone compliments many different planting styles and combinations, livening up often flat, white plantings and adding a real punch to bolder colour schemes. Think of it like a slice of lime in your sparkling summer drink!

The only reasons I can think that it's not loved by all, is that it can self-seed rather enthusiastically, and look a bit tatty towards late summer. If left unmanaged for a couple of years it can become invasive and quite a job to get back under control again. However these issues can be solved quickly with a severe chopping back to prevent unwanted seeding. Within a couple of weeks you are rewarded with fresh, luscious re-growth and a second, albeit smaller, flowering. What’s not to like about that!

But for me, the best thing about it is that it's so useful for plumping up and showing off flowers picked from the garden for the vase, often out-living the flowers that it's meant to be complementing. It looks particularly fantastic with sweet peas and roses.

Alchemilla in a posy with sweet peas and rosesHarlow Carr, like many gardens, has alchemilla in quite a few locations across the site, enhancing many different planting schemes in both sun and partial shade, and you will most likely find me in one of them picking it.

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