Tromsø Geophysical and Climatic facts.

Located at almost 70 degrees North, corresponding to a latitude similar to the North Shore of Alaska, Tromsø's location might invite thoughts of an extreme arctic climate. However, a branch of the Gulf Stream provides the coastal areas of Norway, including North Norway, with a moderating influence, giving rise to a climate which in Tromsø, with its proximity to the outer coastline, results in relatively mild winters (average January temperature being minus 4.4 degrees Centigrade) and relatively cool summers (average July temperature being plus 11.8 degrees Centigrade). Precipitation is moderate with a January average of 95 millimetres and a July average of 77 millimetres. However, there is great variation from year to year: the driest July during the last 30 years saw only 2 millimetres of rain, while the wettest had 175 millimetres. In this era of speculation about climatic changes, it might be of interest to note that the only meteorological parameter which has significantly changed over the last 30 years in Tromsø is accumulated depth of snow, showing that there have been fewer days of winter temperatures above freezing. This culminated in the winter of 1997 with a record 240cm of snow on the ground on May 1st. This, I hasten to add, is exceptional.

This issue of the Saxifrage Magazine is dedicated to reporting on the international seminar, SAXIFRAGE 2000, which the Society held in Loenen, Netherlands, 9 - 12 March 2000.  

Editor's Note: Please note this article is of historical notice only.  Many of the nurseries listed have disappeared, and the ranges of saxifrage available have naturally varied.

This second edition has been compiled from nursery catalogues received in early 1999. The first edition has been an extremely useful resource for many people but it seemed to be time to compile a new version. It is designed to help in locating sources for plants. It is emphasised that "out of stock" situations frequently arise. Some nurseries have indicated that plants (particularly S. fortunei) for which a limited demand exists are propagated to order only and therefore, it is strongly suggested that an advance telephone call is made before visiting a nursery to ensure that it is open and that stocks of required material is available.

At a Saxifrage Society meeting at Wisley last year, I mentioned to Adrian Young that I would be exploring the Lake Garda area in Northern Italy that summer. When I added that I particularly wanted to see Saxifraga arachnoidea, he asked "Why?" in a way that indicated that he doubted my sanity. I had to admit I didn't really know why. By most accounts it seemed a scrawny thing and the Garda mountains certainly have more conventional delights such as Daphne petraea, Physoplexis comosa, Silene elisabethae, and of course, Saxifraga tombeanensis.

In the weeks that led up to my visit, though, it was S. arachnoidea that continued to dog my thoughts. There were three principal contributory factors. Firstly, a full-page photo of it in Herbert Reisigl's Blumenwelt der Alpen that makes it look the equal of any of the most sumptuous European alpines. Admittedly the specimen looks to me as if it has been subtly "massaged" into a tighter clump than would be natural, and the colour values of many of the photos in the book seem enhanced. Nevertheless, it was sufficiently impressive to elevate the species to my desiderata.

Geoffrey Charlesworth, author of The Gardener Obsessed and The Opiniated Gardener has written articles for several journals and newsletters for rock gardeners. He shares a garden in Massachusetts with Norman Singer where they grow Saxifrages and other plants.

We have a big garden in western Massachusetts with all kinds of growing conditions possible if you want to go to the trouble of clearing rough woodland and carving beds out of meadow. After 25 years we have arrived at a mixture of borders, woodland gardens, raised beds, and a lot of improvised planting areas and containers with various degrees of overhead protection and lack of it, exposure to all points of the compass and even a 'greenhouse'. The only thing we lack is an English type greenhouse with careful year-round care for show plants. Actually I am not at all interested in showing plants. Outside our local NARGS chapter meetings there are only a couple of shows in the whole of the country the size of Europe that one could even think of visiting. We use the chapter meetings for show and tell but rarely for competitive showing.

Hybridising is a simple process: so much so that if left to themselves insects will do the the job for you. Unfortunately they will not also identify the pollen parent. It is impractical to carry out controlled pollination with plants growing out of doors unless they are to be individually covered in some way. This means growing parent plants in a greenhouse, a situation that most saxifrages do not really enjoy.