Sempervivum forum: Introducing semps to Acton Arboretum - Rock Garden

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Name: Mark McDonough
Massachusetts (Zone 5a)
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AntMan01
Aug 18, 2018 7:11 PM CST
I'm involved with Acton Arboretum - NARGS Memorial Rock Garden, doing volunteer work and donating plants. Acton is a rural town next to Concord & Lexington, towns famous in Massachusetts for the start of the American Revolutionary War (my home town is Lexington).

This Arboretum is mostly operated and maintained by volunteers. The rock garden came into existence just a few years ago, and has a relationship with NEC NARGS (New England Chapter - North American Rock Garden Society). Currently it's a diamond in the rough, getting miscellaneous plant contributions without any sort of masterplan, so I've been working with "Chairperson Sue" trying to make improvements and get some interesting plantings going, a rewarding experience so far.

The stone outcrops were largely concealed at first, just some glimpse of them, so it was excavated deeply exposing the beautiful natural outcrops, the excavation forming a cirque, with giant stone steps added, an enormous sitting stone, and a stone walkway through the center. I'll be introducing a number of semps into the crevices, let's take a look.

I cleaned out two long crevices, removing heavy soil and infilling with a better draining mix. One of the major considerations is, this is a public space, and young families are drawn to the outcrops as a great play area, and the kiddles love to jump off the outcrop, of course ignoring signage asking not to do that. These two crevices are a good solution, because the semps will be depressed between the two walls of the crevice, one's foot can span the crevice without crushing the semps.

General views of the crevices, just one of two crevices planted, next week I'll do the second one. The darker photos are because of course it RAINED!
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Close-ups, first crevice has Zilver Slipper on the left, Blue Boy in the center, and "Marsha's Rock NOID" on the right. Last view shows a wide sloped crevice that I planted with Orostachys iwarenge.
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Some general views of the rock garden in the rough

Unintended attraction at the Arboretum is children jumping off the outcrops onto the plants below, this flat-topped section I have dubbed "the jumping rock" Grumbling
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General view of the cirque arrangement:
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LEFT: Stone stair and path, semps will be planted on the sides of those stairs.
RIGHT: the flat topped "jumping rock" has a natural stone bird bath sitting there, very nice.
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General views beyond the jumping rock, lots of opportunities for plantings Smiling
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More semp plantings will be shown here. Drooling

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Name: Cinda
Indiana Zone 5b
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gardengus
Aug 18, 2018 7:23 PM CST
What a beautiful place to plant

will be watching to see your vision unfold Thumbs up
Keep believing ,hoping,and loving
all else is just existing.
Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
Sempervivums Container Gardener Foliage Fan Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2014
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webesemps
Aug 18, 2018 7:37 PM CST
We should all have a rockery site like that in our backyard. Lovey dubby I would be beside myself planting, planting and planting!
Name: Julia
Washington State (Zone 7a)
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springcolor
Aug 18, 2018 7:41 PM CST
Wonderful place!
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Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
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valleylynn
Aug 18, 2018 8:33 PM CST

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Mark what a wonderful spot in a garden. Love those rocks.
Name: BigT
Central Illinois (Zone 5)
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Bigtattoo
Aug 19, 2018 5:13 AM CST
What an awesome space to have to work with. It brings to mind the type of landscape terrain I grew up with in N.J.. I miss it, now I have corn fields. Glare You have a good eye for design, and working with the natural scape. So, totes jelly. nodding
Name: Mark McDonough
Massachusetts (Zone 5a)
Region: Massachusetts Enjoys or suffers cold winters Garden Procrastinator Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Foliage Fan
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AntMan01
Oct 27, 2018 6:30 PM CST
Update: Last week I worked with one of the Acton Arboretum directors (and she's in charge of the Memorial Rock Garden), planting bulbs and doing some cleanup. Over the month of October I would stop by the arboretum 1-2 times per week, each time replanting yanked out semps. They also move rocks all over the place, making piles of stone gravel and adding sticks, as if a play construction zone. We discussed the need for more signage, stating that this is a Memorial Garden, hopefully earning more respect; currently it seems to be used more as a daycare play area. New signs were put up with much clearer explanation of some basic rules, hope that helps

When I arrived at the rock garden Friday morning, many more semps pulled out, labels yanked out, sometimes they are arranged on the rock outcrop with leaves and sticks in patterns (deer and rabbits don't do that). The Director put all of the yanked out semps in her tool basket to plant up and overwinter in her cool greenhouse. Bottom line, little round tuffets of semps are much too appealing to children, so we have given up on planting them there, instead we will focus on other plants that don't receive such vandalization... there are some very nice sedums there and they haven't been bothered.

I was invited to attend the Board Of Directors later that afternoon, which I did. The Acton Arboretum is over 60 acres, and is a collection of various themed garden types, scattered throughout the gardens and beautiful open spaces are some excellent tree specimens, much of the property is left natural and on the wild side. I thought the meeting was engaging; interesting to hear the challenges to accomplish their goals with mostly volunteer staff, tight budgeting, and other logistics hurdles.

Sedum sieboldii at Acton Arboretum
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Avatar: Jovibarba x nixonii 'Jowan'
I use #2 chicken grit to feed my hens & chicks :-)
Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
Sempervivums Container Gardener Foliage Fan Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2014
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webesemps
Oct 27, 2018 7:08 PM CST
You should post the pics of Sedum sieboldii over at the Sedum forum (Chat thread?) so that people interested in Sedum and flowering color could take a gander and admire...
Name: Dirt
(Zone 5b)
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dirtdorphins
Oct 27, 2018 7:12 PM CST
oh too bad--I am sorry that's the situation there Mark.
I'm sure you all will still create an amazing rock garden anyway...despite the various hurdles...
Name: Lynn
Dallas, 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
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valleylynn
Oct 27, 2018 7:31 PM CST

Moderator

It sounds like the beginning to a solution Mark. Good work.

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