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Plants in the Garden: A few mysterious losses on the raised bed rock garden?

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Started by: Paul Lewis

Go to latest contribution by Diane Clement, 17 August 2012, 16:01. Go to bottom of this page.

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Contribution from Paul Lewis 16 August 2012, 20:48top / bottom of page

Since constructing and planting up the raised bed rock garden just over a year ago (see the Garden of the Season article on the website), the losses of plants have been fairly low. Out of around 205 different plants on the raised bed I have lost only seven plants during the past year:-

The plants I have lost are as follows (in order of loss):-

Meconopsis quintuplinerva

Campanula raineri

Erodium chamaedryoides 'Roseum'

Pulsatilla halleri spp rhodopea

Erigeron simplex

Erigeron 'Canary Bird'

Acantholimon acerosum

I am a bit mystified, by the loss of the two most recent plants, Erigeron 'Canary Bird' (one of my favourites) and Acantholimon acerosum. The Erigeron was looking fine a few weeks back and blooming continuously. But with the recent hot weather it seemed to shrivel up a bit. I was giving it extra water in the evenings, but to no avail. Our raised bed faces south and gets sun all day. Did the plant just get too hot and die from heat stress? Another recent loss is Acantholimon acerosum. This was growing on a steeply sloping scree which is about 80% limestone gravel. The plant was fine a few months back but the whole spiky cushion turned brown and then rotted off at the main tap root. I can't imaging it has got too wet as the drainage on the scree is very sharp? Any ideas?

I did collect seed from the Erigeron, but have since read that it is sterile? Any advice would be appreciated.


Contribution from Tim Ingram 17 August 2012, 08:10top / bottom of page

Hello Paul - I wouldn't have thought it was so unexpected to lose a proportion of plants like you have found, although certainly some plants are much more likely to be tricky than others - the Meconopsis is one I would love to grow but we are just too dry to establish it. I have found with our sand bed that some plants can take a very long time to really establish, presumably making a strong ramifyiing root system through the bed, before they really take off. Sometimes this doesn't happen and they just dwindle. I would think that in a newly planted bed the balance of top growth and roots is often swayed too much to the former and plants like Erigeron 'Canary Bird' for example simply flower themselves to death. I have thought of locally feeding newly planted specimens to encourage the roots to grow away, if they look to be standing still. I imagine other plants in the bed have grown away well and it will be really interesting to watch it develop over the first few years. The other thing that must happen over time, as in natural ecosystems, is that plants begin to integrate and form a community, which the gardener then 'manages', and from this I think you learn a huge amount about plants and your own personal aesthetic of what is pleasing.

Contribution from Diane Clement 17 August 2012, 16:01top / bottom of page

Paul, I think that Erigeron 'Canary Bird' is sterile, but we frequently get "seed" sent into the Seed Exchange with this name, and invariably this is just chaff, as shown in the first picture below. The second picture shows good seed from Erigeron aureus, one of the parents of 'Canary Bird'.  Unfortunately we do get a lot of chaff sent into the Seed Exchange under the name of various species of Erigeron and other species in the Asteraceae family.  Once you've seen the real thing, you wouldn't mistake chaff for good seed. 

Diane Clement, Director, AGS Seed Exchange

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