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Author Topic: Creating a new prairie-/gravel-garden  (Read 3617 times)

Anne Repnow

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Creating a new prairie-/gravel-garden
« on: January 04, 2016, 02:53:51 PM »
I have always felt sorry I didn't have the right site for planting sun-loving grasses and perrennials. I love woodland plants, but in late summer and autumn it is great to have asters, grasses etc.
As the large and ancient cherry-tree in my garden became increasingly sick (monilia - one side dried up completely), I decided to have it felled and use the space to create a gravel-garden. Maybe some of you are interested in this project, so I'll give an account of it.

Photo 1 shows the cherry


Photo 2 and 3 - My heart bled as the tree came down - it had dominated the garden and blocked out all those ugly neighbouring houses. Oh dear - what had I done...

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 (editing by maggi to show  larger photos  )
« Last Edit: November 12, 2018, 01:02:27 PM by Maggi Young »
Anne Repnow gardening near Heidelberg in Germany
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Anne Repnow

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Re: Creating a new prairie-/gravel-garden
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2016, 03:18:24 PM »
I forgot: As the old tree produced delicious cherries, I had it grafted, so it lives on in a young tree already planted and thriving.

Photo 1 - The roots were milled away by a special machine.
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The amount of wood and branches littering the whole garden was awesome and clearing it all up was a big task (which is still not quite finished). Firewood for years to come.

Photo 2 - A dismal looking garden without cherry tree
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Photo 3 - I wanted to finish the earthworks this winter so I can plant in spring.  I got a couple of chaps in with a little digger who were to take off the top layer of soil.
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« Last Edit: November 12, 2018, 01:03:18 PM by Maggi Young »
Anne Repnow gardening near Heidelberg in Germany
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Anne Repnow

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Re: Creating a new prairie-/gravel-garden
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2016, 03:34:15 PM »
Unfortunately my poor old mum became very ill, so I was unable to supervise the digging correctly. And those chaps with the digger reckoned the planting-bed had to be absolutely flat (while the garden slopes somewhat).

Photo 1 - I almost fainted when I saw they had dug away almost 40 cm of earth (which was piled up in a huge mound)
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Photo 2 - Here is the mound...
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Photo 3 - Some of the earth I had them put back in before spreading about 4 m³ of lava-granules (1-5 mm). It would have been best to mix the lowest layer of lava with the soil below. But I simply didn't have the time to do this, so I am counting on my large and diligent earthworms to do a bit of mixing over the winter.
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« Last Edit: November 12, 2018, 01:04:13 PM by Maggi Young »
Anne Repnow gardening near Heidelberg in Germany
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Anne Repnow

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Re: Creating a new prairie-/gravel-garden
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2016, 03:58:39 PM »
I wonder - have I created a huge 40 m² cat-toilet?  :-X

Photo 1 - I will try to refrain from planting shrubs in the gravel garden - but Cercis chinensis 'Don Egolf' needed a home after having spent years in a pot. It is a lovely cercis that remains fairly small and is sterile, so doesn't produce fruit-pods.
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Photo 2 - Last work before Christmas: Over the years I have found and dug up about 200 concrete paving stones, 15 by 25 cm in size, sunk into the earth of this very old garden. Now I used these to make an edging around the gravel-garden. Doing this made earth and lava condense and it is now abundantly clear, that the whole site is too low. I will have to remove the lava bit by bit and fill in earth. And I need more lava... What a pain in the neck.
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Those pots you see are my peony seedlings, plunged in for the winter. Some other perennials needed to be kept safe. There is some dispute about whether Carex buchananii and Carex testacea are hardy in my region, so I am testing this.


« Last Edit: November 12, 2018, 01:04:51 PM by Maggi Young »
Anne Repnow gardening near Heidelberg in Germany
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Anne Repnow

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Re: Creating a new prairie-/gravel-garden
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2018, 01:52:49 PM »
3,5 years have passed, and as the drought here continues I thought I'd let you know how things have progressed after my last post.

In the following photos you see how the gravel bed with a mulching of 20 - 25 cm of lava (2 - 5 mm) was planted in the spring of 2016 and how it developed in the first year. To add colour I planted a few annuals as well.
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« Last Edit: November 12, 2018, 01:05:32 PM by Maggi Young »
Anne Repnow gardening near Heidelberg in Germany
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Anne Repnow

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Re: Creating a new prairie-/gravel-garden
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2018, 01:59:31 PM »
Some impressions of the first and second winter. I planted a lot of Crocus chrysanthus 'Cream Beauty' - but I'm not sure they will survive in the long term as I doubt they will be able to root deeply enough.
Tulipa whitallii on the other hand seems to be doing ok.

As you can see Pulsatilla vulgaris and Euphorbia polychroma are providing early blooms.

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« Last Edit: November 12, 2018, 01:06:18 PM by Maggi Young »
Anne Repnow gardening near Heidelberg in Germany
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Maggi Young

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Re: Creating a new prairie-/gravel-garden
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2018, 02:27:39 PM »
Oh my word - what a difference, Anne!  You must be pleased with how this has worked out?
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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Anne Repnow

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Re: Creating a new prairie-/gravel-garden
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2018, 02:41:56 PM »
Yes, Maggi, I am thrilled. And it is an added bonus that this planting works almost without watering.

In 2017 the perennials have filled out. In early summer the salvias ('Blauhügel' and 'Tänzerin') are in bloom and Penstemon digitalis 'Pocahontas' adds airy elegance.

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In the height of summer Allium senescens, Calamintha nepeta 'Triumphator', Pycnanthemum tenuifolium as well as Echinacea are a great attraction for insects.

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In autumn Kalimeris incisa 'Blue Star' makes an impression - but it grows to such an enormous size that I will remove it in the coming winter.

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« Last Edit: November 12, 2018, 01:07:17 PM by Maggi Young »
Anne Repnow gardening near Heidelberg in Germany
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Anne Repnow

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Re: Creating a new prairie-/gravel-garden
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2018, 03:03:06 PM »
A few 2018 impressions.

Photo 1: Stachys monnieri 'Hummelo', Asclepias tuberosa and Salvia atropatana (kopetdaghensis)
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Photo 2: Coreopsis 'Full Moon' and Achillea 'Credo' brighten up the scene with their lemony yellow. The purple blotch to the left is Monarda 'André Eve' - a very drought tolerant and absolutely healthy selection by Ewald Hügin


Photo 3: Echinacea 'Pica Bella' and 'Virgin' together with Eryngium yuccifolium (and Heliopsis helianthoides var. scabra 'Summer Nights')
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Photo 4: In full summer bloom. Platycodon grandiflorus has proven to be enormously tolerant of the hot, sunny and fairly dry conditions in the gravel planting.
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Photo 5: Lots of butterflies have adopted the gravel bed.
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« Last Edit: November 12, 2018, 01:08:26 PM by Maggi Young »
Anne Repnow gardening near Heidelberg in Germany
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brianw

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Re: Creating a new prairie-/gravel-garden
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2018, 06:46:45 PM »
How is your Cercis chinensis 'Don Egolf' now Anne. Like yours mine languished in a pot for a few years but when I planted it out it suckered like crazy. Initially I removed them but had to give up, there were so many. 2 -3 years growth is the same height as the 'Don Egolf', but as this is dying back at a similar rate I guess it does not matter much. The suckers have not flowered yet; maybe next spring for the oldest shoots. I did manage to pot up a few of the early suckers, but have lost so much with the heat of this drought i doubt many will survive.
Edge of Chiltern hills, 25 miles west of London, England

Anne Repnow

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Re: Creating a new prairie-/gravel-garden
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2018, 09:00:59 AM »
Goodness, Brian, I am surprised! I have no suckers and 'Don Egolf' is thriving. It seems to like the good drainage and the heat. Could it be that the original plant on which 'Don Egolf' was grafted is coming up? Maybe a grafting problem?

But then - my plant may produce those suckers in the future...

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« Last Edit: November 12, 2018, 01:09:01 PM by Maggi Young »
Anne Repnow gardening near Heidelberg in Germany
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cohan

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Re: Creating a new prairie-/gravel-garden
« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2018, 08:18:07 PM »
Fun to see that all at once-- great progress!

Anne Repnow

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Re: Creating a new prairie-/gravel-garden
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2018, 12:34:21 PM »
Thank you, Cohan
« Last Edit: November 12, 2018, 12:36:01 PM by Anne Repnow »
Anne Repnow gardening near Heidelberg in Germany
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ashley

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Re: Creating a new prairie-/gravel-garden
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2018, 03:51:05 PM »
Oh that's beautiful Anne, and such a nice setting for your lovely 'garden house'.
You must be delighted with the results (even if thinking about trying to improve on perfection ;) ;D).
It looks like a great reward for your ambition, energy and perseverence.  May it give you joy for years to come.
Ashley Allshire, Cork, Ireland

Anne Repnow

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Re: Creating a new prairie-/gravel-garden
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2018, 05:00:33 PM »
Thank you very much, Ashley!
Anne Repnow gardening near Heidelberg in Germany
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