Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Gardening in an inch of soil

Part of our garden is over a concrete area, around which the edging bricks are raised approximately an inch. This means there is only an inch of soil ...

I have planted the area with two types of plants: those that are happy in shallow soil, and those that happened to be spare at the time of planting!!

The star at the front of the first photo is Uncinia rubra, a lovely little grass which glows like rubies in the sunlight.



The pale leaves catching the light behind the Sedum are Lychnis coronaria, soon to be bearing vivid magenta flowers.

Above is a striking little Euphorbia. Does anyone know which it is? I have divided it several times over the years.


Cornus alba seems to like the site! This was one of several cuttings from a friend - probably 'Spaethii'. The leaves are a wonderfully bright yellow.



Melissa officinalis makes a bright lemon-scented statement next to forget-me-nots. I shake the seed-heads of these all over the borders to get lovely clouds of blue flowers in the spring.


One of many self-seeded spiraea glows in the evening sunshine. This is appropriately named 'Goldflame'!


As the evening deepens, Melissa and Myosotis merge into the shadows. Stachys byzantina 'Primrose Heron' lifts pale downy foliage to the sun, and Uncinia joins its ruby glow with the incandescent fire of 'Goldflame'.

31 comments:

Jillien said...

Your garden is breathtaking!

Phoenix C. said...

Thank you Jillien!

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Ooh, such pretty plants. I love the sunshine hitting the spirea. I don't know type of euphorbia that is, there are so many! I've not heard of Uncinia rubra but it's a cute little thing. I *love* the color. Is that a new drawing int he header? It's so lovely. I love the color and mood. So serene. If you want a little laugh. come to my blog to see something I drew. HA!

PianaMon said...

I believe your euphorbia is a Purple Wood Spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides 'Purpurea'). I am not an expert in this, though; just making an educated guess.

PianaMon said...

I believe your euphorbia is a Purple Wood Spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides 'Purpurea') .Just an educated guess ... I'm not an expert.l

Rob (ourfrenchgarden) said...

Hi Phoenix C

Doesn't Lychnis coronaria put up with a lot. I save the seed when its finished and sow it into a tray or whatever to have new plants by the spring- It's the most magenta flower I've ever seen.

I didn't know Melissa was lemon balm until last year. I put a small plant in a herb area last year sold as 'Mellise'. For ages I'd think it reminded me of lemon balm. Of course it did 'cos it is.

Sempervivums would grow well in an inch of soil by the way.

Rob

RuneE said...

One INCH? Impressed!!

Phoenix C. said...

Hi Monica! I bought the Uncinia many years ago, and have divided it several times since. It's quite a tough little grass, and survives being eaten by feline friends occasionally too!

Glad you like the new header and thank you for the compliment! It is the view from the patio window of a house I lived in, in the glorious grounds of a horticultural college some years ago.

I will come and see your drawing!

Phoenix C. said...

Thank you PianaMon. It did have a label when I first bought it, but it is long gone, as is my remembering the name!

Phoenix C. said...

Hi Rob

The Lychnis' magenta is mega-magenta indeed! Combined with the translucent effect round the edges it really stands out. I get my seedlings from out of the lawn where it seeds prolifically each year!!

Thanks - I'll look out for some sempervivums.

Phoenix C. said...

One inch indeed, RuneE - I keep topping up with compost, but am limited by the lowness of the edging. To make it deeper we'd have to drill through the concrete underneath - maybe the roots do that anyway!!

gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

What pretty combinations. It's pretty amazing what plants can grow in! I've been looking for the butter yellow stachys that you shared in an earlier post. So far no luck. I do also really like the red grass in the first picture!

Phoenix C. said...

Hi Catherine,

It keeps amazing me how things grow in this shallow depth!

I thought I'd check the depth all around, and popped out with a ruler to stick in the soil. It's actually only three-quarters of an inch deep near the edge, and occasionally a luxurious inch-and-a-half toward the middle, where I've heaped up the compost!!

Diane C. said...

What a pretty garden you manage to grow in an inch of soil. My favorite picture is of Melissa and the forget-me-nots. I also love that Goldflame. They are all beautiful, thanks for sharing!

Phoenix C. said...

Thank you Diane! (Melissa and the Forget-Me-Nots sounds like a good title for a children's book!))

Heather said...

Thankyou for visiting my blog - I would never have found yours otherwise, and it is a joy. Your garden must be a picture and I have been taking note of the plants that seem to be happy in very little soil. We have an difficult patch in the front garden which has quite poor soil and dries out quickly in hot weather. I have lost dozens of plants in my efforts to fill the gaps.

Prospero said...

That's pretty amazing that those plants will grow in an inch of soil. But not only grow - thrive. It's a very nice mix of plants, very pleasing. Sedums are great plants, too. Do you find you have to water that shallow bed more often?

Phoenix C. said...

Thank you Heather, I'm glad you like my blog, and garden!

I'll be interested to know how you get on with your patch in your front garden. My shallow area also could dry out quite quickly, but it has been so rainy up here in the summers since I created it, that I've hardly had to water it!!

Phoenix C. said...

Prospero - I've just been commenting over at your blog - our comments have crossed!

My reply to Heather has part of the answer to your question. The last few days have been very hot here, so I have watered my shallow area. However, it is at the bottom of a slope, (which needs watering more), so I wonder if moisture runs down and collects in the concrete base like a little pool!

Bim said...

How amazing that all these plants grow so beautifully in an inch of soil - that gives me hope for some concrete-covered areas in my garden which I am hesitant to tackle -

Woodland Fay said...

We seem to have similar taste in plants!
By the way RE: your comment on Corydalis on Rob's blog we have a yellow version here that grows wild and effortlessly on old walls and paths, sadly I have to pull it up by the wheelbarrow load or else it would take over! You'll be pleased to hear it always bounces right back!

marigirl said...

thanks for lending your knowledge!! Now I can research it. I literally stopped in my tracks when I saw it---so unique. I love your bench of the weeks. so tranquil.

Phoenix C. said...

There is hope for your concrete, Bim!

I don't use any artificial fertilizer etc, just some compost mulching a couple of times a year. (And the occasional slosh of a garlic brew to harmlessly deter rabbits from munching the plants!! Maybe the plants thrive on this?)

Phoenix C. said...

The bouncing Corydalis sounds good, Woodland Fay!

I have two Corydalis given to me by the person with the National Collection. They are thriving and have such fascinating delicate shaped flowers!

Phoenix C. said...

Thank you Marigirl.

The flowers do look amazingly exotic.

Glad you like my bench!

Shady Gardener said...

I am amazed! One inch of soil. That's almost crazy... especially when there's such a lush number of very healthy plants sharing that soil! Your thumbs, fingers and hands must be green all the way to your elbows! :-)

Claude said...

An inch of soil, over concrete? That's fascinating. Of course, here in Texas with summers well over 100 degrees farenheight, it's inconcievable. There is a well shaded parking lot I know of where every spring you can find oak seedlings that have sprouted in last falls gathered leaves and debris, but if you don't save them, they're dead by July.

Phoenix C. said...

They are, Shady Gardener, if I don't remember to wear my gardening gloves ... (Plus various colours of artist's paint!!)

Phoenix C. said...

I'd be out there collecting all the oak seedlings, Claude!

The atmosphere is quite misty here a lot of the time, with lots of moss growing on the walls. This no doubt helps.

Barbara Martin said...

Such an awesome garden with only an inch of soil! Just the views I needed to see to put my soul at peace. Thank you, Phoenix.

Phoenix C. said...

It's an honour to put your soul at peace, Barbara! Thank you.