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Plants in the Garden: Fun with a Sand Bed!

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Started by: Tim Ingram

Go to latest contribution by Tim Ingram, 11 June 2013, 08:51. Go to bottom of this page.

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Contribution from Tim Ingram 02 June 2011, 23:06top / bottom of page

A few more plants looking good at the moment.

Asperula daphneola (this looked terrible over winter, even with cover, but has perked up now)

Aquilegia amaliae (A favourite over the last couple of years - must collect seed)

Edraianthus owerianus (this has now finished flowering but as a nurseryman I have always been just as fascinated by the seed capsules and these are good fun when they ripen and open like tiny bird's nests)

Eucomis schijffii (very hardy, for us, Drakensberg species grown from seed from Jim and Jenny Archibald. I am pleased to see this coming up as it is always so late!)

Linum narbonnense (this must be the most beautiful of the genus for its almost metallic silvery-blue flowers . It is also a good perennial unlike perenne! But it is a devil to propagate - possibly root cuttings are the answer?? I always get very poor take from traditional cuttings)

Phlomis species (good plants for our relatively hot and dry garden. This came from a French nurseryman friend, Jean-Paul Jolivot - Le Jardin d'en Face near St. Malo - who has a passion for the plants from around the Mediterranean)

(takes a bit of getting used to this sometimes! Should be Jean-Pierre Jolivot. Haven't yet worked out how to go back and edit).

Contribution from Tim Ingram 05 June 2011, 09:11top / bottom of page

A request on the SRGC website for advice on planting a new raised bed prompted me to take a few more photos. The two dwarf conifers are really excellent plants and it is high time more gardeners started growing them again - in poor sandy soil they stay especially slow.

Pinus leucodermis 'Schmidtii', Chamaecyparis pisifers 'Nana', Anthemis marschalliana

Contribution from Tim Ingram 22 June 2011, 12:30top / bottom of page

The campanulas are just about to start flowering on the sand bed, but before they do a few other plants giving a show. Very many people grow Dieramas and they are amongst the most beautiful and graceful of plants. This is the well known D. pulcherrima. Around used to grow a lot of Eryngium bourgatii, which really had become too much of a good thing despite giving a wonderful show; now the area has been cleared, mulched very heavily with gravel and planted with a few plants such as Thalictrum tuberosum. Further along the eryngium is still growing strongly, here mixed with Cryptotaenia japonica in its purple leaf form, and various other perennials. By the drive grow a variety of thymes looking very good just now, and a small collection of sempervivums, which are particularly colourful at the moment. The planting was stimulated by seeing a similar collection confined to a trough in a friend's garden, and i hope these will gradually merge to form a mosaic of foliage colour and form.

Contribution from Chris McGregor 27 June 2011, 23:27top / bottom of page

Tim - I have been following this Sand bed article with interest and it has given us a few ideas to try in our own garden. We have a raised bed down the side of our drive and the conditions must be very similar to your sand bed. Some of the plants you mention thrive there and we are going to try some of the others you have listed.

Thanks very much for taking the time to contribute to our website. I know many members read what's on the site as they mention it to me but they don't necessarily actually submit their own contributions.

Contribution from Tim Ingram 01 July 2011, 14:47top / bottom of page

Thanks Chris. I know from our own Groups in Kent how many members have fine gardens and I do think it would be a benefit to the Society if more shared their experiences, but it is very much a personal thing.

Campanulas are real stars on the sand bed, bringing colour into the summer and thriving in poor gritty soil. These two, C. x wockei 'Puck' and C. hercegovina 'Nana', have done particularly well after taking a year or two to settle down.

Two other later flowering alpines are Origanum and Teucrium, both great plants for warm and dry situations. These are O. 'Kent Beauty' and T. ackermannii.

On one side of the sand bed the grit is much shallower over the normal garden soil and there are a few plants here such as primulas and gentians which need a bit more nutrition and moisture retention in the soil. Another one is Azorella trifurcata which makes a really attractive emerald mat. A friend has a dwarf form which I must try. This can, of course, make a very substantial plant and will need to be controlled in time.

Contribution from Tim Ingram 01 July 2011, 15:11top / bottom of page

The last two pictures are not in such deep scree as those before but still with much sharp grit dug into the ground and top-dressed with a deep mulch of gravel. The Yucca whipplei has grown apace and rather taken over a plant of Aloe aristata planted next to it. However, I show it just to prove how hardy this Aloe is - it has come through this last very severe winter, even in the open garden, and certainly seems tolerant of temperatures to -10C or below. There are some lovely cushions of Edraianthus pumilio just maturing seed below and the initial sand bed is gradually being extended behind and beyond the Yucca.

In the front of this bed is also one of the few plants i have managed to keep going over the 30 years since i visited Joe Elliott's nursery in the Cotswalds; Tanacetum densum amani. This dies back badly in the winter and I am always pleased to see the new growth coming back. It is one of the best silver foliage plants when grown well and would probably benefit considerably from winter cover.

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