Alpine plants have to cope with extremely cold, windy and dry conditions. They often grow in infertile soil or shattered rock, with great changes in temperature from searing heat to extreme cold. They are often lashed by gale force winds. As a result, most alpine plants don’t grow very large in response to the limited resources available*.

Where they don’t seem to do well is anywhere I’ve tried them: probably because what I really wanted was plants that don’t need watering every day in dry spells. Armeria (thrift) seems to hang on in there at the base of a (pot-contained) eucalyptus. While nemesia keeps on flowering cheerfully in tubs by the front door that often stay dry even when it rains.

Where they do thrive, in their natural environment, you can’t help admiring them for hanging on so tenaciously in such inhospitable spots.

Franz Josef Glacier, in New Zealand, is visited by hundreds of thousands of people every year. The glacier is about 5km from the town, and it’s described on tourist info as being about a 45-minute walk from the glacier car park to the glacier viewing point.
I walked all the way (from the town) and much of it was like a lunar landscape: miles of grey rocks (dried-up river bed).
For sure when I got back to the village, I was glad to slide into the hot pools.
But what I doubt many people notice, as they tramp across the rocks, is they are not lifeless. Here and there, tiny plants push their way through the gaps.

There are more than 600 species of native alpines in New Zealand (93% of which are ONLY found in NZ), so I’ve not attempted to work out what the ones in my photos are.
Feel free, anyone who does recognise them, to let me know.

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* Department of Conservation

PS. Didn’t mean to ‘like’ my own post!


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