Small and white, clean and bright …

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Edelweiss Cabin’s namesake is that charmingly fuzzy plant made famous in the saccharine lyrics of “The Sound of Music.” We’ve had some luck growing these alpine transplants here in the Catskills, likely because the cold nights, strong winds and rocky soil feel a bit like home to them.

We acquired our plants from Edelweiss Perennials, a boutique mail-order nursery in the Pacific Northwest. To maximize our chances of success, we selected two cultivars bred for longer life and adaptability to new climates: Matterhorn and Mont Blanc. 

(By the way, Leontopodium – that’s the formal Latin name for these star-shaped flowers – isn’t this nursery's only focus. You’ll find a number of other hard-to-find alpine plants, from cyclamen to gentians. We had good success with Dodecatheon 'Tanya Star' and one of the many varieties of gentian,which gives us the classic tricolor alpine palette of white (edelweiss), blue (gentian) and pink (dodecatheon). Consider a group buy with other florally focused friends, as the shipping costs are stratospheric …)

We planted our initial batch of edelweiss in the beds in the front of the cabin, with approximately 15 percent surviving through last winter. While that may not seem like something to cheer about, it's definitely better than the zero percent survival rate of edelweiss we've planted downstate. The culprit for that high mortality rate? We think it's soil that's too rich/moist. A solitary edelweiss that we planted in poor soil at the base of a tree survived just fine. So the next round, we'll try some drier sites.

A planting tip from our dear friend Jeff Bazell, a world-renowned plant hybridizer and owner of Flowers of the Good Earth in Bremen, Ohio: Lay in some chicken grit when planting. This not only adds structure to the soil and improves drainage, but it mimics the high limestone content of alpine soils.

Here’s hoping they bloom and grow forever – or at least for the foreseeable future!