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Started by: Lesley Barrett

Go to latest contribution by Lesley Barrett, 27 February 2015, 09:02. Go to bottom of this page.

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Contribution from Lesley Barrett 20 February 2015, 18:34top / bottom of page

I want to make a little used path in my garden into a shallow alpine bed.

I want to make a little used path in my garden into a shallow alpine bed.  Currently it is just rough tarmac so I was going to start by pulling this up.  I am then going to lay some wooden stepping stones.  In between I want to grow some spreading alpine plants (short ones).  
I am quite new to gardening (and alpines) I would like to know what to put down.  I know the area will need to be well drained, so I have bought some alpine grit and horticultural grit.  I've also bought some top soil (mistake?) and some small pebbles.  I have some liner too to prevent weeds.  It won't be very deep, only a few inches, is this enough?
Hopefully the photo will help.
I would really appreciate some help with this.


Contribution from Tim Ingram 21 February 2015, 14:03top / bottom of page

Lesley - my first thought on seeing your photo was that you could make a much more effective bed to grow alpines and rock plants if you removed, or pruned back, some of the shrubs adjacent to the path and planted into that border (digging in fresh soil and gravel) and allowing plants to spread out over the tarmac path, just covering it with a layer of pea gravel. We have a similar situation in our front garden where certain plants such as aubrieta, arabis and thymes have spread from the border and rooted into the gravel (plus a little humus) and grown very well and flowered there. The benefit also would be, if you did remove some of the shrubs, that you could plant smaller choice plants such as dwarf daphnes, maybe true dwarf conifers, and other deeper rooting rock plants that would give a lot more interest over time, plus bulbs that need to be quite deep in the soil. This would probably be no more effort (still quite a lot) as trying to remove the path and plant there, and you would retain better access. I wonder, do you have a local Alpine Group in your area and other members who could give advice?

Contribution from Lesley Barrett 21 February 2015, 19:37top / bottom of page
The path is so ugly though!

Thank so much for your suggestions Tim.
You are right the border certainly needs some work!  That can be my next job.
The path is so ugly though and I really want it to be a mixture of alpines, gravel and treated wooden planks (for steps).  I just wanted to know what I should use as a mixture for planting into.  How many parts grit etc?


Contribution from Tim Ingram 21 February 2015, 21:53top / bottom of page

Yes - but if you covered it with gravel plus a little sand, just a centimetre or two, it would immediately look so much better. Here is a picture from our front garden and under the gravel is that same ugly tarmac (our next door neighbours have their whole front garden laid down to tarmac for cars - very unappealing. Just at the top corner is the bed where these aubrieta were first planted, but where they are growing now is thin gravel over tarmac (with some accumulated humus over time) and they have steadily rooted further and further out into the drive, even through very dry periods in the last few years. We haven't broken through the tarmac but doing that would allow even better rooting into the soil beneath.

This second picture shows a similar situation in a friend's garden between two tarmac drives. In this bed earlier on are snowdrops, various other bulbs including the lovely red tulip T. sprengeri, a fine small peony, helianthemums, Teucrium chamaedrys (Wall Germander), then these alliums later on, and towards the far end, where it is shadier, hostas, a hellebore, cyclamen, hepatica... all in a bed just a couple of feet wide. Now imagine where the car is covered in gravel and with plants spilling out over and rooting into it - possibly some pots of plants placed onto it too. (This bed doesn't need much upkeep - I know because I have been helping in the garden over the past couple of years) and is always interesting.

Contribution from Lesley Barrett 22 February 2015, 10:03top / bottom of page

Thank you Tim, your comments are very helpful, I really appreciate your help.
I have attached pictures of the look I am aiming for, let's hope I can achieve it!

Contribution from ian mcdonald 22 February 2015, 11:39top / bottom of page

Hello Lesley, Thymes would be a good idea. There are many varieties. The smell from the leaves in summer is good and they are a food source for bees when in flower. Thymes need very little attention.

Contribution from Lesley Barrett 26 February 2015, 00:04top / bottom of page

Sound like a good option Ian, I will certainly include it, thanks for suggesting it.


Contribution from Susan Read 26 February 2015, 13:45top / bottom of page

Part of my driveway (not used in spring time) has gravel and humus from leaf fall. Crocus (tommies), primula and mossy saxifrage have spread into it and I cannot bring myself to 'weed' it.

Contribution from Lesley Barrett 27 February 2015, 09:02top / bottom of page

I wouldn't 'weed' it either.  It looks lovely Susan.


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