I probably shouldn't feature this plant on a blog called The Edible Balcony Garden because (#1) it's inedible and (#2) it's not even in my garden. This Lewisia cotyledon forma alba is happily soaking up the sun and heat in my Mom's south-facing rock garden. But I'd like to write about this "happy camper" anyway because it's exactly that: the right plant in the right place. This is an important concept that's taken me many growing seasons to accept because...
...My favourite ornamental plants are full or partial shade dwellers. And no matter how often I water or try to shelter them from mid-morning to late-afternoon sun, they do not thrive on my south-facing balcony with its heat absorbing deck. I learned this the costly, disappointing way a few years ago when I tried to grow native woodland plants. The experiment, not surprisingly, failed -- unless you considering adding more plants to the compost a goal. Put the wrong plant in the wrong place and you will use far too many inputs to keep it barely alive, effort contrary to a low-impact garden. So last year, I finally gave in to my habitat, even if it's not my first choice. The new attitude I'm trying to cultivate is the gardener's equivalent of "if you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with."
This season I'd like to add sun-seeking, drought-tolerant succulents to the hayrack planters and hanging baskets at the front of my balcony. But now I have doubts about including Lewisia. In doing research for this post, I learned about its growth requirements and I'm not sure I can create rock garden-like conditions. According to one reference, "brought down from their subalpine heights to sea level gardens, they easily fall prey to root-rot." That doesn't sound good! I really don't want to stress another plant or myself by trying too hard to make something work.
For now I can be quite happy enjoying alpine plants by visiting this botanical garden more often. And I will continue to take photos and make plans for my future rock and shade gardens.
But if you are seeking a showy specimen to fill a bare spot in your rock garden, you may want to consider this pure white-flowering Lewisia with its abundant blossoms.