Though I wrote the post some days ago I write this introduction from Montreal where I will be meeting up with the rest of the When Fashion and Nature Collide’ team. I arrived yesterday evening to be met by Dominique, was stuffed full of great Thai food and delivered to my accommodation with instructions to sleep off the jetlag. I have done this and sorted out my main priorities – making coffee and toast.
A few posts back I described the ‘protected’ parts of my garden, the greenhouse, frames and raised beds.
This time I want to talk about our rock garden. Here nothing gets extra protection and we have tried to create a habitat that will make alpine plants happy. Here we have been very lucky:
Our property is basically built on top of a huge heap of fractured limestone. The shallow soil on top of it is a very well drained silty loam with a pH of 7.7. And the garden slopes down to the West, with almost no shade. What this equates to is generally very good conditions for alpine plants, and also for Mediterranean plants ( we get little frost). Saxifrages seed themselves around. Normally tricky Daphne thrive (I stopped counting at 30 types of Daphne) and plants that put deep roots down into the cracks in the limestone absolutely love our garden – Peonies and Pulsatilla come to mind.
2018 really tested things. An arctic blast in late winter killed a few Mediterranean plants, then several hot months without rain really stressed some shallow rooted alpines. The downside of our garden in summers like that is the poor moisture retention of such well drained soil. That said, total losses were few, though some little alpine willows did die back partly.
Plants mentioned in my blog have often been those that I grow in pots. Partly because the rock garden was quite neglected until I overhauled it in summer 2017.
Another stroke of luck is the ready availability of stones – all of the stone you see in these pictures was dug up from within the garden, sometimes involving a crowbar.
The main rock garden surrounds a wildlife pond. It contains lots of plants and hundreds of newts. Susan saw an albino newt in the pond last week. If I can catch it I will take a photo.
Leading from the pond back up towards the house is our ‘dry stream bed’ which is a path using pebbles we found in the garden, winding between slightly raised flower beds. The spaces between the pebbles have been fantastic sites for planting alpine plants, some of which are self sown from the rock garden.