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Saxifrage's delicate blossoms will brighten shady spots.

Saxifrage's delicate blossoms will brighten shady spots

To brighten a shadowy spot in the garden, consider using a shade-loving saxifrage. The difficult alpine saxifrages, popular with skilled rock gardeners, require full sun, but full or partial shade suits the two perennials shown here, strawberry geranium (Saxifraga stolonifera, also known as S. sarmentosa) and S. rosacea (also called S. decipiens and S. sternbergii).

In spring and summer, these plants produce a profusion of delicate blooms in white, pink, rose, or red. Foliage of all the saxifrages tends to be compact and lowgrowing, and the plants spread quickly by runners or by branching, which makes them excellent ground covers.

Loose, fast-draining soil and plenty of water are essential for these plants. Feed lightly during the growing season.

Strawberry geraniums do best west of the Sierra Nevada divide, but recent experience shows they succeed even where hard freezes are common. They thrive everywhere as house plants.

Their white blooms are up to an inch across and grow in clusters that reach 2 feet tall. Rounded leaves have slightly scalloped edges; about 4 inches across, they are medium green with silvery white veins on top and slightly pinkish underneath. Plants are usually about 6 inches tall and have a growth habit somewhat like that of strawberries. Runners with new plants at the tips cascade attractively from hanging containers or spread along the ground.

Near the coast, S. rosacea needs afternoon shade; it requires full shade inland. The species has white blooms, but several named varieties and hybrids offer rose, red, or pink blooms. "Carnival', pictured above, displays all these colors at once. Light green, deeply cleft leaves make 4-inch-high mounds that expand by basal branching.

Photo: Lush ground cover under canopy of tree, strawberry geraniums produce loose, open clusters of tiny white blooms above rounded, white-veined leaves

Photo: Cushion shaped in a pot, Saxifraga rosacea "Carnival' spreads in shady garden noosk. Bright rose blooms fade to white on stems up to 9 inches above light green lobed leaves
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Feb 1, 1986
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