Planting in the Edges and Cracks of a Garden
For several years I tried to get a lovely, drought tolerant plant established in my garden. Lychnis coronaria is a perennial that forms low-growing rosettes of gray-green leaves that in late spring and summer sends up glorious stalks of dark magenta flowers. It just refused to grow in my nice fertile beds, but it is now flourishing, all on its own, between the cracks of my brick path. Like many plants, it apparently doesn’t want coddling and can find the moisture and nurture it needs at the edges of the more cultivated part of the garden. Even the Gaillardia seems to do just as well in the gravel terrace outside of the confines of the bed I originally planted it in.
There are plenty of other species that also seem to thrive on the margins. Many succulents, for example, will multiply in the cracks of a wall or at the edge of the walkway. The stones provide a heat sink as well as a barrier to evaporation so that the root zone of these castaways is protected. Succulents such as sedums, sempervivums, and portulacas are particularly suited for this lifestyle. But other, tough plants like the herbs rosemary, oregano, creeping thyme, and even sage can fend for themselves in these microzones.
You may already have a dry-laid stone wall, or a flagstone or brick path that can accommodate a few plants tucked in the crevices. But, if you are planning such a feature, imagine leaving a wider gap in a few places. Some landscape material suppliers even have broken concrete or tile that has been salvaged from former gardens that make ideal patterns to include a few hardy plants to complete the patio, path or wall with the re-used paving.
And if some plant escapes the confines of your established garden bed, give it a chance and see if it is one of the hardy survivors that can lend softness and charm to the margin.
Rose Campion – Creative Commons, Rose campion by Ruth Hartnup is licensed under CC by 2.0
Herb Garden- Creative Commons, Herb Garden1 by theoldpanther is licensed under CC by 2.0
Rock Wall Garden – Creative Commons, Rock Wall Garden by Patrick Standish is licensed under CC by 2.0