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Author Topic: An alternative Rock Garden in Essex, UK  (Read 5640 times)

KentGardener

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An alternative Rock Garden in Essex, UK
« on: November 30, 2007, 06:44:03 AM »
Hi All - now for a controversial posting!  :o

Last month I was invited to a private opening of a garden half a mile from the Thames estuary in the South East corner of Essex, UK.  The garden is the home of Paul Spracklin who has been experimenting for many years to see just what can be grown successfully outside in the UK.  Many of the plants grown I would guess should be called 'alpines' as they come from mountainous regions of the world?  In fact Paul is, as I type, on a seed-hunting trip in the mountains of Mexico.

I am not convinced that Paul's style of planting will be to the liking of all ( if any  :D ) SRGC'ers - but who knows - some of you with large rockeries may decide to try an Agave Montana in your own garden?

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Finally a picture borrowed from Paul's website to show a winter view:
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If you want to see more pictures there are quite a few on Paul's website:

http://www.ukoasis.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/my_garden_during_2003.htm

regards

John
« Last Edit: November 30, 2007, 06:47:07 AM by KentGardener »
John

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David Shaw

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Re: An alternative Rock Garden in Essex, UK
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2007, 08:31:30 AM »
This may not be the type of garden that I would try in Moray, but I do like it for what it is. The first picture in particular took me straight to Tenerife and, from what I can see in the pictures, the garden is a very good attempt to try and capture the volcanic islands on this side of the Atlantic.

John, I would not try to grow this garden but would very much enjoy visting it.
David Shaw, Forres, Moray, Scotland

mark smyth

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Re: An alternative Rock Garden in Essex, UK
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2007, 08:45:00 AM »
he has a forum I belong to but havent visited in a year or more
Antrim, Northern Ireland Z8
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When the swifts arrive empty the green house

All photos taken with a Canon 900T and 230

KentGardener

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Re: An alternative Rock Garden in Essex, UK
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2007, 09:11:05 AM »
David - Paul (and his wife Vicky) call the rock garden their 'three grand canyon' as I think the tons of lava rock cost rather a lot of money.  A good investment though I think.

Mark - I did see your name on the members list - but alas, the forum is no more.  Squabbling and bitching between members took take its toll and Paul reluctantly decided that it was no longer enjoyable to run  :(  The open day was for all the forum members as a final meeting.

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t00lie

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Re: An alternative Rock Garden in Essex, UK
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2007, 09:56:27 AM »
John
Interesting that they can be grown outside in Essex.I presume being close to the estuary means they are in some sort of a microclimate ?.
I'd be interested to know what the individual monthly rainfall figures are----to see if there is a gradual dry period in autumn to allow the plants to slow down in growth and harden off and is there reliable snow cover over winter?.

As you say many of the plants come from mountainous regions and i think you are right to guess whether they should be called alpines.
Me-- i'd just call them mountain plants and that way any controversy is avoided.Smile.

Thank you for showing pics of what can be grown if you have the space and willingness to experiment.

Cheers dave.
   
« Last Edit: November 30, 2007, 09:58:06 AM by t00lie »
Dave Toole. Invercargill bottom of the South Island New Zealand. Zone 9 maritime climate 1100mm rainfall pa.

KentGardener

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Re: An alternative Rock Garden in Essex, UK
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2007, 10:07:34 AM »
Hi Dave

this is from Paul's website - gives a bit more info on the micro climate where he is.  The rock garden is mostly gravel - with VERY little soil included.

Quote from: Paul Spracklin http://www.oasisdesigns.co.uk/my%20garden.htm
First of all, I suppose I should outline the climate in my  part of the country.  I live about half a mile from the River Thames estuary in the southeast corner of Essex, 5 miles from Southend (map), and this proximity to the sea still moderates the cold to some degree.  The average winter low temperature is -6°C, with the historical low in 1987 being just above -12°C.  Rainfall in this part of the country is very low, as it is all along this eastern strip, averaging around 500mm, or 20", annually.  In 1996 only 330mm or 13" of rainfall fell onto our parched gardens - so much for our 'Green and Pleasant Land'.
John

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Maggi Young

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Re: An alternative Rock Garden in Essex, UK
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2007, 10:58:33 AM »
What a fantastic garden! Wouldn't like to fall and graze the knees on that rock, though. I quite believe it must have cost a lot to import, it's not the sort of thing your local quarry has, is it? ::)
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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Anthony Darby

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Re: An alternative Rock Garden in Essex, UK
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2007, 12:58:09 PM »
I'm you Maggi. A brilliant concept very beautifully laid out. I bet they don't have problems with cats! ::)
Anthony Darby, Auckland, New Zealand.
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Carlo

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Re: An alternative Rock Garden in Essex, UK
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2007, 12:59:56 PM »
Fantastic...but not alpine.

It could legitimately be called a "rock garden."  The plants are fantastic and I grow many of the indoors (and some outdoors) here in New York.

If we're sticking with the most commonly accepted definition of "alpine" the plants would have to come from above the treeline.
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KentGardener

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Re: An alternative Rock Garden in Essex, UK
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2007, 01:23:31 PM »
I bet they don't have problems with cats! ::)

Paul and Vicky love cats and have two that scramble all over with no problem.  I was there again two weeks ago and was amazed at quite how agile the cats were among the spikey things!  Paul said the only time one came a cropper was when a neighbourghood cat picked a fight with one of his and it fell against a particularly nasty plant and came limping home with a 2 inch spike hanging out of its bottom!  :o

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Anthony Darby

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Re: An alternative Rock Garden in Essex, UK
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2007, 09:08:28 PM »
I rest my case. I should have said "I bet they don't have problems with other people's cats" :)
Anthony Darby, Auckland, New Zealand.
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Lesley Cox

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Re: An alternative Rock Garden in Essex, UK
« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2007, 08:22:03 PM »
The Essex climate where Paul is sounds a lot like mine, with similar min temps and about 22" of rain here, half what Dunedin gets, just 15 kms away but on the coastal side of a hill.

I wonder whether such plants could have been grown in the same place, say 50 years ago. If Paul's garden is possible through climate change, the result is scary. I can admire the garden but wouldn't want it myself though most or all of his plants could be grown here.
Lesley Cox - near Dunedin, lower east coast, South Island of New Zealand - Zone 9

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Re: An alternative Rock Garden in Essex, UK
« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2007, 04:32:02 PM »
A really nice collection, just my taste of plants.

fermi de Sousa

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Re: An alternative Rock Garden in Essex, UK
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2007, 07:03:46 AM »
John,
Paul's garden is strangely reminescent of Aussie gardens in the 70's when Agaves, succulents and such things were "in" ( and are again now due to the drought!) and honeycomb rock was the only building material for a rock garden! - but we had a lot less snow!
To be a truly 70's garden though he'd need to grow a lot more mesembs (known locally as "pigface" or "ice-plants", though I think that's a Kiwi apellation) trailling all over the rocks and the beds would have to be mulched with scoria over a layer of black plastic!

We use volcanic (basalt) rock because it's the local substrate and abundant if not cheap to have moved to your garden. I haven't managed the agaves, but a few ferocious yuccas and an even more ferocious Puya have found places amongst our rocks!
cheers
fermi
Mr Fermi de Sousa, Redesdale,
Victoria, Australia

KentGardener

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Re: An alternative Rock Garden in Essex, UK
« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2007, 09:05:48 AM »
Hi Fermi

I shall have to tell Paul he has a 70's garden  ;D

He wrote an interesting article in the UK's RHS magazine last month on hardy Agaves.  I am even trying his top recommended plant myself.  Agave Montana is meant to actually continue growing when it gets wet in winter!  I had always been disapointed with Agave Americana in the past as it coped very badly with winter wet and cold.

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