Probably the most spectacular, certainly the most dazzling, are lewisias
This pint-sized perennial is ideal for the rock garden, scree bed or even cracks between paving slabs, where it will have the good drainage it needs.
Here a few names to tempt you: arenaria, campanula, dianthus, gentiana, hepatica, Lewisia
, penstemon, primula, thymus and saxifraga.
A FAMOUS rock star in gardening circles is Lewisia cotyledon.
The bright colours of lewisia cotyledon make it perfect for a rock garden Pictures: GAP/MARIANNE MAJERUS/GARDEN PICTURE LIBRARY
The species, popular today, is Lewisia cotyledon, an evergreen alpine that likes acid soil.
Being planted sideways, in a rockery or a wall with good compost in planting holes, is the secret of success with lewisias because moisture drains off.
Lewisias are named after Captain Meriwether Lewis who made the first coast-to-coast exploration of North America in the early 19th Century, discovering many plants.
For vibrant colour, choose from a variety of evergreen, low-growing phlox, lewisia
, gentian, armeria and alyssum, and if you can fit them in, plant some bulbs in autumn to add some height, such as dwarf narcissi.
He gave a plant to German botanist Frederick Traugott Pursh, who renamed it Lewisia rediviva, after Lewis.
Look for lewisia plants this month at retail nurseries or order by mail from Siskiyou Rare Plant Nursery (541/772-6846) and Rare Plant Research (www.
Lewisias are generally easy to flower, but one species - Lewisia tweedyi var.
Lewisias enjoy this sharp drainage to such an extent you can grow them in almost pure sand.
My choice would be Gentiana verna or Lewisia
Wall Heath Horticultural Guild, talk, Cyclamen, Lewisia
and Auriculas, by Mr Philip Burden, Community Centre, Enville Road, 7.