Last year saw me create my first two small rockeries. I saw a colossus one in the gardens at Lamport Hall and was inspired to make my own version. I then had to consider the
structure becoming waterlogged and the last thing I'd want was a washout rock slide. It was time to scale it down a little. I mentioned in my previous birthday post that dad had
helped me build some planters, so smaller rocky microcosms it was. This decision happily led to many an even smaller terrarium created.
Like a kid in a rock candy shop, I had a fun day deciding which pebbles to purchase. Rose quartz, amethyst and aventurine are some semi-precious favourites. Polished pieces add a
statement touch, alongside stones in a more natural, jagged form. I find pebble combos look good with a similar theme, such as slate and metallic ore minerals. Yellow-hued stones
come together to complement light green leaves. The bench is also currently under construction, where dad's building skills know no limits.
I found an online shop which sold a collection of bare-rooted plantlings and a variety arrived on my doorstep. I conducted some research; the vivid
lengths of Purple Heart make a stunning addition to any planter. Speaking of small plants, you never know what'll spring up overnight. This miniature mushroom felt at home here,
nestled between chunky leaves. If you ever fancy creating a rockery yourself, here's a few tips. This is along the lines of what I initially had in mind for the back of the garden.
When the small wall in the garden was built by dad many a year ago, there were a few spare grey bricks left in the corner. I thought they'd make great mini-mountain additions
to the rockery. Cue an enthusiastic throwing-bricks-against-the-paving session (highly recommended). Pieces broke off in perfect chunks. Don't forget the safety gear when doing so. The area looked like a little makeshift quarry. I had no idea what to expect in the internal brickwork, yet I was pleased to discover a stellar moon-rock pattern throughout.
The large echeveria first had a home in the flowerbed, but was carefully moved to the planter for better drainage. It's come up a cropper, year after year. Echeveria and sempervivum
are some of my favourite succulents. When I was younger, I remember visiting my aunt's garden, where she used to have some embedded in the soil. I was fascinated by their
rubbery, squidgy leaves - they looked almost artificial. I also like how resilient these two varieties are and how even when the frost bites, they still come through in Spring. Which is
what I was hoping would be the case with the various new stems planted. I found it was sadly, a very different story...
Alike the last post, this one is also a retrospective. As much as I want to say all the plants made it through last year's harsh winter, most of them perished. It was pretty upsetting
stepping out briefly in December and seeing the strong length of the cacti curling up on itself, Many of the leaves had become mushy. In hindsight, I wish I has considered protective
covering measures, alike the couple in Norfolk, who have created an astounding cacti and succulent garden. I came across the article when searching for large-scale ideas and was
blown away by the vast array of exotic greenery (look at all the agaves!), as well as the fact that it's here in England. What a surreal escape to see every time you step outside the door.
The last few weeks of summer saw the final photos taken, after that the roots had had time to take hold. I don't want to focus on the fact that the planters no longer look like this. The
weather-beaten lengths were retrieved and bought indoors, in the hopes they'd spring back to life... to no avail. On a positive note, I'll mention some more favourites in this mini jungle: Crassula Moonglow, with its patterned nodular leaves; Aeoniums, with their contrasting red edge; and Spoon-leaved Stonecrop sedum, which have a cluster of greyish-hued florettes. There was one, however, that did make it, which I've had chance to re-pot into a permanently indoor terrarium.
There's a creative element that you can bring to the table, or planter, when decorating. Before the final potting, I had a play with the arrangement in sections, deciding which plants
work next to the other and as a whole. Alongside pebbles, a few beads make an appearance. Each section melds into different tones, from the reddish copper leaves to subdued
blue-tinged ones. Materials such as terracotta, slate and stone course like a rocky stream, into the next. The large keystone bricks were put in place first (same ones which built the
wall), with smaller rocks falling in accordingly. A landscape feel was formed by raising heights in certain areas. There was something so satisfying in seeing it all come together.
I had luckily collected some fallen leaves from some of the plants, which meant I could propagate them this year. It's a slow process, although tiny buds are beautifully starting to take
form. I'm still a tad gutted that there's some cuttings I didn't take, such as the seaweed-looking form above, and the trio of cacti totems. The store from which I bought the bundle is
unfortunately no longer in operation. So, now it's a case of keeping a look-out in plant shops to see if I stumble across them again. Yet, I'm also trying to curb my plant
shopping, as I feel I've officially run out of window sill or sunlight receiving space. I might, might just make rare exception if something striking catches my eye.
As well as every sill space, I've also considered how floor space could be best utilized with long colourful vases - filled with sprawling vines and feathery fronds. Best believe I'll be
covering up this year's planters as the harsh cold comes around again (plastic tray covers maybe)? I recently moved to Hertfordshire, so it won't be possible to spend as much time in
my garden as I used to. That said, Letchworth is coincidentally a 'Garden City' and tree-lined walkways make up for it. A bunny-ear cacti I purchased from a local florist (this be the
exception of paragraph above) has made the perfect house-warming plant. I'm also taking some terrariums with me, naturally. All in all, the outlook is still pretty green from here.