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Re: gravel spacers & planting walls was: 'Limerock Ruby'

  • To: <gardenchat@hort.net>
  • Subject: Re: [CHAT] gravel spacers & planting walls was: 'Limerock Ruby'
  • From: "Marge Talt" <mtalt@hort.net>
  • Date: Thu, 15 Jan 2004 23:37:53 -0500

> From: Bonnie Holmes <holmesbm@usit.net>
> Tell me about your gravel spacer area near the house wall.  When I
read it,  a light bulb went on and I am wondering if I don't need
such.
----------

Well, Bonnie, we've got a stone faced block wall on this addition we
built
14 years ago; sorta like drystone in look, mortared but not
waterproof.  Since where I ended up planting wasn't
waterproofed as high up as I made the beds,  I put in some treated
lumber out about 18" from the wall and filled in the space between it
and the wall with small and medium garbage rocks and topped it off
with pea gravel to keep moisture from the planting bed away from the
building.  Seems to work from that aspect, tho' I wasn't expecting
plants to seed into there like they have:-)

I have built many drystone walls and planted a few.  You want to
plant as you build - it is about impossible to plant after the wall
is built unless you do it via seed. 

Small (young) plants are preferable to large (mature) ones.

Slope the rocks in to the grade so the plant roots can grow down
through the
rocks into the soil behind and water will drain down into the
planting pockets when it rains.  Make sure to tamp the soil well as
you build so it doesn't collapse or wash out.  Sometimes you need to
stick a small rock in the crevice to hold a plant in, so it doesn't
wash out with the first heavy rain before the roots are established.

While wall plants like the sharp drainage, most of them are going to
want semi-decent soil to grow in.  This is a challenge for me when
I'm beating in clay to hold the wall together or using stone dust to
ensure good drainage.  But, I find that most of the things I've stuck
in walls seem to grow, no matter what kind of soil mix they're in. 
Some plants are picky though, so you need to check on what they want
before you get them.

Often what you plant at the top of a
drystone wall ends up in the wall after a few years:-)  Pachysandra
will do that.  I've planted assorted ferns in walls with
success...good for shady walls.

The rocks will help conserve moisture to a certain extent and keep
the roots cooler than otherwise in summer and also warmer in winter.

The plants you listed, I agree with Kitty, would do better in the
ground than in a wall, I think.  You might want to consider some of
the Saxifraga stolonifera for the shady parts - there is one with
yellow foliage; have or had one and can't remember the name off the
top of my head.  

For sunnier areas, try:
-Iberis sempervirens  
-Dianthus (deltoides, alpinus, gratianopolitanus)
-Alyssum
-Aubrieta deltoides
-Sempervivums
-Sedums (kamtschaticum,  pluricaule, spurium ['Dragon's Blood is a
spurium], and other small forms)
-Arabis
-Arenaria montana
-Campanula portenschlagiana
-Euphorbia myrsinites (would be good with your yellow scheme as the
foliage is bluish and the flowers are yellow) - just about any
euphorb will grow in a wall.  I've had E. characias seed itself into
walls I really didn't want it growing in as it has pretty big roots. 
Large roots can displace stones in a wall after a bit of time.
-Geranium (cinereum, dalmaticum, sanguineum var. lancastriense 
-Gypsophila repens
-Helianthemum nummularium
-Phlox (stolonifera,  subulata 'Schneewittchen')
-Saponaria ocymoides
-Thymes (serpyllum, repandus ['Silver King', 'Silver Queen',
'Variegatus'),  pseudolanuginosus [woolly] and other creeping types).

I've just listed a few genera, most of which I snagged off the NARGs
site, and I know there are heaps more.  Plants  like rocks:-)

Marge Talt, zone 7 Maryland
mtalt@hort.net
Editor:  Gardening in Shade
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