Northumberland Diary Discussion: 02 September 2012
Started by: /diaries/Northumberland/
A New Sand Bed (Entry 223)Go to latest contribution by Tim Ingram, 20 September 2012, 10:39. Go to bottom of this page.
John - as you might imagine I rather like the idea of the sand bed becoming a fashion icon, because if you can get people hooked on a pile of sand in the garden, then the best part that comes is you can also hook them on the really fascinating plants you can grow in it! Crevice gardens can look fantastic but they are a lot of work, relatively expensive and much more tricky to maintain in many cases. Sand with tufa would be my ultimate desire. Given these surely far more gardeners would find alpines much easier to grow than they may have found previously (perhaps a slightly blanket statement, but when you start growing plants like these you don't want to be put off right at the beginning, and alpines do have that reputation).
To see if I can push that fashion theme a little further I have written a short article for 'Gardens Illustrated', stimulated in part by Peter Korn's quite incredible plantings in sand. I've opened it with a quote from Elizabeth Lawrence (that I gave elsewhere on this Forum), that 'all rock gardeners are snobs' - I think we are a little! Will 'Gardens Illustrated' be too snobbish to publish it?
Yes Tim, I am pleased with my sand bed now that it has settled down a bit and the top dressing has been completed. Can you tell me, do you ever feed the plants in it? Do they run out of what little sustenance the sand can provide?
No I haven't fed it to date but some plants do look decidedly peeky and I think I should locally feed things, especially anything newly planted just to get it rooting out into the sand. Deep-rooting plants like daphnes quickly get their roots down low into the soil beneath, and I would certainly like to try some of those delightful plants you showed earlier from the Sierra Nevada. What I have found is that I have needed to water quite often in our dry spells in Kent (I have used a very sharp potting sand) but this is not really any different to growing choice alpines in pots or troughs when you see a need for it. The proof of the pudding is that I want to extend the bed and try different grades of sand elsewhere to see how they compare (this bed is actually at ground level with the logic, not necessarily correct, that moisture levels would be maintained from the surrounding soil - mind you they are too much over the winter so I have to cover the bed!).