Kent Alpine Gardener's Diary
This entry: 03 September 2015 by Tim Ingram
Landscaping with alpine plants
Nigel Dunnett, at Sheffield University, is a friend from many years ago and has an understanding of using plants in landscaping, ecologically, in ways that few people have. This is an example of a roof garden established over 10 years, with very little input after the initial planting - along with his commentary. (Taken from Facebook):
'This was the first proper green roof that I planted, 10 years ago exactly. It's a semi-extensive type, with substrate depth of 150-200mm, and no irrigation at all for 10 yrs, apart from the establishment month. The plant mix was originally a steppe-type perennial planting, with a mix of some UK native species of limestone grasslands and coastal regions, but mostly species of central and southern Europe that cope with the very dry exposed conditions. After the first few years there has been no maintenance at all, apart from a winter cut back in some years (not 2014/15) so what is there now is a result of the survival of the fittest and the best species at regenerating themselves. What has amazed me is that this has turned into a fantastic example of a synthetic steppe/dry meadow. It is beautiful in the spring - covered in cowslips and pasque flowers. And also, the planting on this roof takes a very different approach to the 'native species only' lobby which is such a strong presence in green roofs in the UK wherever creating plantings for wildlife benefit is concerned. The roof looks VERY different now to how it started out - two photos included from June 2008'
(Prof. Nigel Dunnett)
I find this a very remarkable and educative example of using alpine plants in landscaping which goes beyond the way that many of us view and use these plants, and of huge relevance to the the Alpine Garden Society in particular - similar in many ways to how Peter Korn in Sweden works with these plants. In general alpine plants are viewed more discretely and botanically but this shows the immense potential they have in 'greening' city landscapes, and how successful this can be.