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Buy alpines

Container planted with alpines in June

The attraction of buying alpines for your garden:

Alpines take up only a small space in your garden and that means you can have a quite a number of plants in:

  • a really small city courtyard,
  • window boxes,
  • containers,
  • a small bed by the front door,
  • a raised bed on the patio,
  • your pathways, (yes you can get ones that don’t mind being trodden on!), or
  • the front of your borders.
Container planted with alpines in June
Container planted with alpines in June

 

Guidelines for buying alpines regarding looking good all the year:

In your small space you need to buy alpines that together have interest the whole year round.

The first challenge is getting a few plants that look great through the winter time.
A good place to start is by looking at our evergreen plants – which means they won’t look totally dead in the winter!
So the first tip is to buy alpine plants that look good in the winter.

The second most difficult season is the autumn, so buy some alpines that look good then – our list of autumn flowering plants has a surprising number of alpines.

As far as alpines are concerned it is easy to find many that will flower in the spring, so buy the alpines that are on our spring flowering list.

That now only leaves the summer time, and again there are many alpines, so choose from our summer flowering list.

Guidelines for what alpines to buy regarding sizes:

If your planting space is really small, then consider buying alpines from our really compact 5cm wide to 20cm wide range.
It gets frustrating when you’ve planted your compact alpines and then you buy one that turns out to be a real thug and completely smothers the other alpines!

You may have a little more space and you could buy the alpines from our fairly compact 25cm wide to 30cm wide range.

Wooden raised bed with alpines and gravel
Wooden raised bed with alpines and gravel

 

When buying alpines remember to think about how much sunshine your area has:

Basically there are three different sites:

Guidelines for buying alpines regarding soil:

If you are planting alpines in a container, then you will need to buy a compost to fill it.
Avoid the compost that is full of very fine particles, or that is based on sedge peat, because the drainage will not be good and it can cause the roots to rot.
If you go for a peat based or other non-soil based compost it will dry out quickly, so buy some soil based compost to mix in with it.

If you are planting alpines in your garden, it is always good to incorporate some soil improver so that it improves the drainage and gives the soil some more organic matter.
If you have a clay soil then you will need to buy alpines from our plants for clay soils list.

So if you haven’t got massive plans for your entire garden, then you could concentrate on the little spaces nearest to your doorways, or pathways, or patio.
It’s amazing how much pleasure a few plants can bring to your life!

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Ornamental grasses for winter interest

Trentham Gardens in January

There are some great plant combination ideas at the Trentham Estate.

The Dutch plantsman, Piet Oudolf, designed the ‘Rivers of Grass’ and the ‘Floral Labyrinth’ at Trentham Gardens.

In the ‘Rivers of Grass’ area he planted two varieties of Molinia in large groups, one being Molinia Edith Dudszus.

Molinia’s change to a hay colour through the winter and so give interest with them swaying in the breeze.

He also planted Stipa gigantea which are impressive, large, architectural plants.

See our Ornamental Grasses range.

 

Trentham in January
Trentham in January
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Compact hardy patio plants

Compact patio plants

If you want a patio with lots of interesting compact plants, then perhaps try this:

Compact patio plants

Most of these have only been planted three or four years ago (see picture at the bottom of the page).

A wire netting fence has been covered by cheap rush screening material and then a few ‘structural plants have been put in to give height (watch out, the first two do get big!):

Then within the flower bed there are a few medium tall plants and herbs:

These are the compact alpine plants that give lots of colour and interest:

Here is a picture just 4 years before the photo above:

The patio before the paving slabs and the plants

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Wide border in clay soil with a small wildlife pond

Deep flower border with pond

Here’s a colourful border in early summer with a small wildlife pond (in the centre of the photo).

The soil had a fair amount of clay in it and things like Thymes would not survive over winter, but as you can see from the list below, there are quite a number of alpines that cope with these conditions.

For a bigger picture see it at our Facebook page.

Deep flower border with pond

Why not have a go at creating a new flower border, or revamp an old one, in a similar style to this one?

So here is the list of the most obvious plants that make up this flower bed.
Firstly the foreground:

Next line back and the middle:

Background plants:

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How to make an alpine raised bed – VIDEO

Making a raised alpine bed

This short video (2 mins 20 secs) shows you how to create a raised rockery bed from scratch.

This video shows:

  • Nailing together some thick planks to make the raised bed.
  • Filling with soil.
  • Shaping the soil surface.
  • Splitting a rock and placing it to make the rockery.
  • Planting the alpines (rock plants).
  • Finishing with gravel.

If you want raised bed kits, please see the bottom of this page.

What plants to use in a small raised alpine rockery bed:

These plants would be suitable and wouldn’t take over:

Making a raised alpine bed
Making a raised alpine bed

Here are some kits for making raised beds:

Botanico Let’s Grow Wooden Raised Bed  [1]

Spear & Jackson 1250 x 185mm Raised Bed [1]

Wooden Raised Border For Flower Bed Or Vegetable & Herb Growing 1 Metre Square [1]

Wooden Raised Bed [1]

Selections GF9435 Veg Trough Large Wooden Raised Vegetable Bed Planter [1]

[1] These are Amazon affiliate links.
This means I will get a fraction of the cost if you purchase it.

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How to plant a flower border – VIDEO

How to plant a border, marking out the bed

This 2 minute video at the bottom of this page, shows you some tips to planting up a flower bed.

If the area has perennial weeds in it, like couch grass, nettles, thistles, docks. creeping buttercup, etc then the easiest and most effective way is to spray it with a weedkiller like Roundup which is not a really nasty chemical.
If you don’t want to use any chemicals, then every bit of root will have to be picked out while you are digging.

How to plant a border, marking out the bed
How to plant a border

The video covers:

  • Using soil improver (our local Council tip sells it – made from the green waste we throw away) which is much more environment friendly than using peat based ones.
  • Digging the bed.
  • Marking out the area with canes into one metre squares and following a plan.
  • Planting – remembering to separate the roots to enable them to quickly grow into the new soil.
  • Covering with gravel (or ornamental bark).

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How to make your patio lovely – VIDEO

Make your patio into a lovely area

Do you want to spend time enjoying your patio area?
Why not make it a beautiful space?

Here’s a short 49 second video to hopefully inspire you into transforming your patio:

When you’ve finished putting in the plants, it only takes a few months for it to start filling out and to be looking great.

Make your patio into a lovely area
Make your patio into a lovely area

The small plants in the picture and around the patio include:

The lowish spreading plants include:

The herbs include:

Plus any screening plants and climbers.

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Plant rots off at ground level problem

Weevil damage to a Sedum

Have you got any small plants that fall to pieces at ground level?
Whole stems get detached from the ground.
This is typically on soft stemmed plants.

Weevil damage to a Sedum

This plant problem could be due to:

  • An attack by a fungal pathogen, such as Rhizoctonia, Pythium, Phytophthora, etc. Most, or all, of the roots will be brown or black, and dead – not white or fresh looking. [1]
  • An attack by one or more pests eating the roots away, such as Leatherjackets, Cutworms [2] or Vine Weevil.

When I saw the damage done to the Sedum in the picture above, I immediately thought it was Vine Weevil damage.
But after careful inspection of carefully pulling the compost to pieces I couldn’t find an offending Vine Weevil larvae anywhere.
It being winter time, the almost dormant Vine Weevil larvae would have been just lying, buried in the compost, but my conclusion is that the Vine Weevil biological predator (see at the bottom of the page for purchasing this) had found it before I did!
I did want to include a picture of one of the Vine Weevil larvae, but I can’t find any!

You can see on the picture that a couple of the stems have begun to root again into the compost.

The problem with Vine Weevil is that you can have a plant in your garden, or a neighbours, that is a host plant and from there the weevils wander off to lays eggs on your choice, smaller, softer plants.

The least obvious host plants for the adult weevils can be:

  • Rhododendron
  • evergreen Euonymus
  • Hydrangea
  • Epimedium
  • Strawberry
  • Primula
  • Bergenia

They chew out notches in the leaf margins.
I have heard that some people go out when it is dark with a torch and some pliers to crush the offending adult weevils!

The larvae stage is the most destructive, and they look like little white bananas about 5mm long.

The most tempting plants for the Vine Weevil grubs are:

  • Cyclamen
  • Begonia
  • Cacti and succulents
  • other house plants
  • Strawberries
  • Primulas
  • Polyanthus
  • Sedum
  • Saxifraga (mossy types)
  • Heuchera
  • young Yew (Taxus)

If you are interested in the Vine Weevil predator (which I highly recommend) it can be purchased from Amazon – the link* below will take you to the correct page:

Nemasys vine weevil killer standard pack
This is not a chemical but a live product that needs to be used right away.
It is mixed with water and then sprinkled on the ground around your plants with a watering can.
It is not a chemical and is harmless to children, pets and adults!

Reference:
* This is an affiliate link where I will get a fraction of the sale price.
[1] Damping Off.
[2] How to Identify Cutworm Damage