Sempervivum forum→Help starting cliff garden. newbie

Page 1 of 2 • 1 2
Views: 751, Replies: 29 » Jump to the end
Name: Sharen
Hollidaysburg PA (Zone 6b)
Image
Dbfarmgirl
May 29, 2020 11:04 AM CST
Hello all
I'm a new semp grower but have gardened inside and out for many years. I have been reading through the forum, lots of info and like minded, well informed people. Like you, i think those little buggers are endearing.

I have been collecting different varieties of semps to propagate them. My hope is to use this shale outcropping (compliments of the Pennsylvania canal system) as a natural rock garden. I'm hoping with your collective experiance you will help me avoid some pitfalls.

This is the area, east facing, now very overgrown.

Thumb of 2020-05-29/Dbfarmgirl/507824

I know it will take a bit of weed removal, including a very healthy crop of poison ivy and fox grape. A few saplings keep me from a better photo. Im lucky, the heavy prep work won't be a problem, I have access to chainsaws, skid steer, rototiller, and tractors all with a husband who makes an art out of raising one eyebrow and helping me with whatever crazy idea I have.

My concerns are, enough light, enough soil, too exposed, etc. My gut tells me clear everything off, solarize or roundup the area, add a little soil in the rock cracks and wait a year to plant. We hope to add a raised bed using some of the shale rock we have at the base. Critters are a major concern, there Is a major deer path near here.

Any help would be appreciated. Our farm is still in the resurrection stage (renovation is too mild a word) and it's the first thing people see when the turn into our driveway.
Thanks for your help
Sharen


Thumb of 2020-05-29/Dbfarmgirl/604172

Romania, Mures (Zone 6b)
Sedums Sempervivums Region: Europe Roses
Image
PaleoTemp
May 29, 2020 12:15 PM CST
Hey the place looks very nice, that rocky spot. Actually I was looking for such type of place myself a couple of years ago.
Yeah you might want to take everything off that is on it, but the most important would be to know which direction the rocks are facing? North, S, E, W?
Theoretically too much water should not be a problem as it would drain down, just like in most natural places where I have seen sempervivum or saxifraga. But North might be an issue.
Adding some sort of soil I guess it would not be bad if there will be great natural drainage.
Name: Sharen
Hollidaysburg PA (Zone 6b)
Image
Dbfarmgirl
May 29, 2020 12:32 PM CST
It faces east. It's in the shade now as there is a group of seedling trees a couple feet away. There are a few recessed areas i could put something in that likes a little shade. After we pull the trees out I will be able to get a better photo. If it won't work for semps, I may plant a different tree and do wild flowers.

It really is beautiful. I always wanted to do something with that area but it was low priority considering all of the other projects.
Thanks for your reply,
Sharen
Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
Sempervivums Container Gardener Foliage Fan Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2014
Image
webesemps
May 29, 2020 12:32 PM CST
Hi Db and Welcome!
The pictures are of two specific places just next to each other?Asking only because one looks very green and other is rocky. The green area looks less angular while the rocky section looks steep but has a number of ledges. The green area looks bowl shape and can accommodate plantings easier whereas the steep area is dependent on places that can retain some soil for minimal plantings.
Name: Sharen
Hollidaysburg PA (Zone 6b)
Image
Dbfarmgirl
May 29, 2020 12:42 PM CST
The cliff is a little u shaped, the rock is almost vertical in some spots, less so in others. Not sure if these additional photos help.

Thumb of 2020-05-29/Dbfarmgirl/8921e0


Thumb of 2020-05-29/Dbfarmgirl/910cd3

Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
Sempervivums Container Gardener Foliage Fan Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2014
Image
webesemps
May 29, 2020 1:59 PM CST
I think I get it. Photo one is the top of location in question and two is the bottom part. It seems like a lot of clearing needs to be done and then a clearer picture will appear regarding possible planting spaces/surfaces.
Info regarding available exposure (as a result of moving trees and such) might help more in deciding which types of plants to grow optimally.
Name: Jo Ann
Washington State (Zone 7a)
Sempervivums
Image
ricos
May 30, 2020 10:17 AM CST
Db...there is something beautiful under the poison ivy and fox grape. That rock is amazing.
You can do something even more beautiful once the rock is exposed and you/we can see it better.
I have 2 concerns with what you have told us.
Deer love sempervivum.
Roundup is best at killing grass (and humans ..It just takes much longer).
If you must use chemical poison, you need a brush killer for poison ivy and fox grape.
Cross Bow would be much more effective than Roundup.
Goats would be the most effective. They would leave you some fertilizer and no chemical residue.
I think I see Vinca at the bottom of the photos. This would bloom with some more sunlight. I think I also see the (5 part) leaves of Virginia Creeper, which if it had enough sun would give you very red foliage in the fall. (Roundup will not get rid of either of these).
Romania, Mures (Zone 6b)
Sedums Sempervivums Region: Europe Roses
Image
PaleoTemp
May 30, 2020 10:40 AM CST
Goats love to climb on anything, I guess they would love it there.
Name: Sharen
Hollidaysburg PA (Zone 6b)
Image
Dbfarmgirl
May 30, 2020 2:39 PM CST
We want to rent a herd of goats. They are very mischevious and I'm not sure I could keep up. I'm hoping to avoid weed killers, trying to make a go manually, then see what I have left.

Well I cleaned it up a little. Lots of poison ivy, multifloral rose, and a snake. The snake was the least of it.
Even after wiping down with alcohol, I'll probably get a nasty case of poison. (the alcohol really works if you do it right after exposure)

There are many cracks in the rocks. I was surprised to find a couple tree saplings growing. The poison ivy has a nice root system woven into the crevices.
It seems to be in shade after about 2pm. Not sure if that's enough sun. In the photo with the purple flowers you can kind of see the rock face continues, that part faces east, south east, and runs for 300 yards below our house and through our pasture, i'm thinking of using part of the sunnier side too, only have to convince the husband a little less pasture won't be a big deal.

I was really hoping he would have time to yank the saplings for me today. They are in the first photo, left side. Then I can get a photo of the whole thing and it will make sense. It is really pretty.
A little progress.

New photos



Thumb of 2020-05-30/Dbfarmgirl/b72228


Thumb of 2020-05-30/Dbfarmgirl/7f3c1d


Thumb of 2020-05-30/Dbfarmgirl/3023b4

Romania, Mures (Zone 6b)
Sedums Sempervivums Region: Europe Roses
Image
PaleoTemp
May 31, 2020 1:03 AM CST
Dbfarmgirl said:It seems to be in shade after about 2pm. Not sure if that's enough sun.


It seems fine for the hottest of the longest summer days (if powerful sun in the summer is a thing in your area), but probably this could be quite little light exposure during winter or fall. What could this mean? Just less cloning capability and maybe not the most impressive colors certain cultivars can give. But overall sounds fine.

Will you also have Saxifraga? Their tendency is to have very small roots and thrive, some can put a nice flower show, I guess that is why many incorporate them in alpine gardens.
Name: Kevin Vaughn
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
JungleShadows
May 31, 2020 11:00 AM CST
I agree with the Crossbow. It is very effective on woody plants. I add a teaspoon of Dawn dishwashing detergent to help it penetrate further into the plants. There will also be a residual seed bank of weed seeds. Let them germinate so you can eliminate them. Otherwise you'll be fighting them as they try to overcome the semps.

Remember that semps do like to grow in a flatter spot so save little flat crevices to plant the semps and add some good soil to these spots.

At my folks' place kin MA we converted a slope into a rock garden using the abundant native rocks.

GOOD LUCK!!

Kevin
Name: Jo Ann
Washington State (Zone 7a)
Sempervivums
Image
ricos
May 31, 2020 4:53 PM CST
Good advice Kevin
Another word of advice for Db .....Get on this now (which you are doing) and stick with it. It's going to be a long project as you will fight the vines and poison ivy for a few years. Goats and Premier One electric fence would be the way I would go but by the time you reach my age you will not want to be taking on a project like this. Rolling on the floor laughing I hope you are younger. I tip my hat to you.
Name: Sharen
Hollidaysburg PA (Zone 6b)
Image
Dbfarmgirl
Jun 10, 2020 6:10 AM CST
Life got in the way, but I'm back.
My husband's schedule has been crazy. Both of us were home and got the skid steer going. Still going to have big weed problems. We dumped a load of really nice loose top soil there years ago, plenty of good soil to work with.

Thanks for all your suggestions.

Attached are new photos, taken early morning. You can finally see the size and shape. There is a 4 foot fence post for scale.



Thumb of 2020-06-10/Dbfarmgirl/f8dc05


Thumb of 2020-06-10/Dbfarmgirl/2d6d56

Romania, Mures (Zone 6b)
Sedums Sempervivums Region: Europe Roses
Image
PaleoTemp
Jun 10, 2020 6:41 AM CST
Yeah, I get a better understanding of the area.
The place looks great.
I guess if you clean the top side you fill that area with plants too? Or you want to leave that are wild?
[Last edited by PaleoTemp - Jun 10, 2020 6:41 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #2269211 (14)
Name: Sharen
Hollidaysburg PA (Zone 6b)
Image
Dbfarmgirl
Jun 10, 2020 7:27 AM CST
I could clear the top, technically it's part of the front yard, there's a glimpse of our white house visible at the top of the photo. There is an old bonsai like tree at the center top that I would like to trim up and keep, the rest, mostly vinca can be removed. The shrubs on the right side will go, they are invasive species, autumn olive and multifloral rose. That part faced north so I don't think semps would get enough light.

The shale is stacked sheets of rock, loose with root space between. I was surprised to see a couple small saplings growing on the face.
Sharen

Name: Lynn
Oregon City, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
Image
valleylynn
Jun 13, 2020 2:22 PM CST

Moderator

Oh boy, I see Saxifraga, ground type sedum, Rosularia, Orostachys smaller types of Armeria, Sempervivum, Erodium, Phemeranthus calcyninus, Potentilla crantzii 'Pygmaea'.
Oh my I see all of that filled with treasures.

What are the tall plants growing in the cracks?
Name: Sharen
Hollidaysburg PA (Zone 6b)
Image
Dbfarmgirl
Jun 13, 2020 6:36 PM CST
Its wild Verbascum thapsus, Mullein. It seems to show up everywhere dry. I let it grow because its not poison ivy.

I never looked at saxifraga before, really nice. I have one Rosularia plant, I thought they might be good for the recessed areas, need more. I thought foxtail lilies would look good against the dark rocks at the base. I started propagating sedums. I will have to look up the others you mentioned, I'm not familiar with some of them. So happy I can find great plants online, i can only find sedum and a bunch of miss-labeled, drowned chick charms here. Oregon must be plant heaven.

I am going to print out pictures and try to work on the design. My husband wants to work on the stone edge for the raised bed at the base. He's kind of into it, he never saw this area cleared. We have a nice pile of large shale rocks that match the cliff. I'm kind of excited.
Sharen
Name: Lynn
Oregon City, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
Image
valleylynn
Jun 13, 2020 8:55 PM CST

Moderator

I can't wait to see what you do Sharen.
Name: Sharen
Hollidaysburg PA (Zone 6b)
Image
Dbfarmgirl
Aug 14, 2020 10:07 AM CST
It's been a while.
We pulled a couple invasive species bushes, still more to go. The hot dry summer fried the vinca that had received a little shade before we pulled the saplings. I found another small rock outcropping under a bush. (To the right of the original rocks). That side faces north, good sun in the summer, shade in the winter. Thinking maybe the top of the hill in semps and sedum, something else below.

Thumb of 2020-08-14/Dbfarmgirl/fddcdf


This is a close up of the rocks. What kind of soil do I add to the crevices? The pile below is good sandy flood plain loam. Well drained but fine texture. I was thinking I should start packing that where I want to place semps so it will settle in until spring when I hope to start planting. Any suggestions? The more old posts I read the more I think this area will really work well.

Thumb of 2020-08-14/Dbfarmgirl/d36b7b

Thumb of 2020-08-14/Dbfarmgirl/d79cba

Name: Kevin Vaughn
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
JungleShadows
Aug 14, 2020 11:06 AM CST
Sharen,

It looks as though you have a ready-made crevice garden!! Two years ago I went to the Perennial Plant Association meeting in Raleigh NC and Tony Avent's head gardener gave us a great tour through the crevice garden construction and what plants were utilized. They used a rather free draining mixture between the rocks but also topped it off with fine gravel. I'm not sure if they have anything about that on their web site but you might want to see if they have information on it. Theirs look fantastic and it had many semps.

I think you might have to fight weeds as that was wild for so long and there is a weed seed bank. That's why I would definitely use some sterile potting mix/ compost to fill the crevices.

Kevin

Page 1 of 2 • 1 2

« Garden.org Homepage
« Back to the top
« Forums List
« Sempervivum forum
Only the members of the Members group may reply to this thread.

Member Login:

[ Join now ]

Today's site banner is by dirtdorphins and is called "bleeding heart"

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.