Creating an alpine bed
Creating an alpine bed is an ideal project for a small garden.
Most alpines grow natural in difficult areas such as on alpine mountains and alpine meadows. To get the best out of your plants you will need to recreate the same conditions.
Firstly and most importantly you will need to create a free draining soil. This is best achieved by incorporating some horticultural grit into the top 50-mm, aim to achieve a50% soil/50%grit mix. Alpines general benefit from being on a lean soil so at this stage there is no need for any base fertilisers to be added.
As with most gardening projects the preparation is the key in the case of creating an alpine bed time spent on preparing the soil will save a lot of time later when it comes to weeding. You will need to dig the area over and remove the perennial weeds with a tap root, such as dandelion. Once the area has been dug and the grit incorporated you can then cover the area with ground sheeting which will allow the water through and prevent most of the weeds. With alpine beds and rock gardens it is particular useful because weeding in between the rocks and stones can become a nightmare!
Next the area should be covered in about 50mm of gravel or horticultural
grit. This cover the ground sheeting up and will help to keep the base
of the plants stems dry.
Once the sheeting has been covered you are then ready to arrange the rocks and cobbles. There are no set rules on how to do this. The best way is to arrange the rocks generally then stand back to view the whole bed. Remember that you will be spending most of your time looking at your garden from the house so check the view from inside to. Once you are happy with the arrangement of the rocks you can add additional interest by creating hollows and rises under and around the rocks to create planting pockets.
With the construction finished you will be ready to start planting. This is best carried out with a small builder's trowel. Simply rake the gravel back from the area you wish to plant. Then using the trowel cut a cross section in the ground sheeting and turn back the edges c The great thing with alpine beds is that you can add plants and bulbs throughout the year as you find item in garden centres and gardens you visit.
As well as planting in the bed itself you can also use pots and troughs to increase the interest by adding additional height to the area.
Alpine plants cover a very wide number of plants and with some planning it should be possible to have some interest in the bed all year round. However alpines particular lend themselves to creating a most colourful displays in the early spring. If you need any help in creating a planting plan remember that the GardenAdvice Advisors will help produce you a plan.
To view the GardenAdvice top 12 plants for an alpine bed click here.