Gardening: Crevice rock gardens great for collectors
I found the current May-June issue of Fine Gardening (Taunton Press) a cover-to-cover read. Who knew that over-fertilizing carrots at seeding could cause forked roots? And the new White Knockout rose that remains in bloom most of the season and is self cleaning may be the perfect choice for a silver and white garden that glows in the dark
But of particular interest to me is the article, “Build a Crevice Garden” by horticulturist Joseph Tychonievich, author of “Rock Gardening: Reimagining a Classic Style” (Timber Press).
We have a good-sized area in the back of the garden I steward at the OPC in Rochester that’s currently unused, and to keep it from being taken over by weeds, when the weather breaks I plan on seeding it with a mix of flowering annuals that will hopefully bloom by the end of June for our garden walk. But after the big day, my plans are to begin creating a series of small rockeries, one of which will be a crevice garden as described by Tychonievich.
The good news about this garden is it doesn’t need a lot of space and the linear stone doesn’t weigh a ton or cost a fortune. Tychonievich says broken concrete or stone sold for patios works well.
Another great feature of a crevice garden is the soil used — a combination of sand and gravel, can be purchased by the bag so it’s a snap to transport. Best yet, it’s inexpensive. The mix suggested is two parts sand to one part gravel. As with any rock garden, be sure to purchase “sharp” sand and fine gravel with sharp edges, not the beach sand sold for sand boxes or pea gravel.
Among the plants Tychonievich suggests is the cute little hosta, ‘Blue Mouse Ears.’ Tucked in the middle of a linear rock garden, these tiny treasures will be safe from the dreaded deer. Small plants work best.
Crevice rock gardens are a boon to plant nerds who love collecting but don’t have the space or the budget to invest in large-sized multiples. A single little plant framed in stone becomes a tiny treasure. Tychonievich recommends washing way as much of the moisture-retentive potting soil from the roots as possible before planting. This keeps water from collecting around the crowns of the plants, which causes crown rot.
Once planted, the maintenance of these gardens is quite low. Plants adapted to low water and fertility needs don’t require regular watering. Growing them lean also keeps them small and compact so regular downsizing and trimming isn’t needed.
Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and Metro Detroit freelance writer. To ask her a question go to Yardener.com and click on Ask Nancy. You can also read her previous columns at detroitnewscom/homestyle.