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Planting an alpine colander

Posted by Dawn Isaac on 04 Feb 2010 at 03:43 PM

I used to have issues with alpines.  Not the plants you understand, but more the world they appeared to inhabit.  It seemed you couldn't grow these little gems unless you were called Geoff or Derek, had plenty of time on your hands and owned an old Belfast sink, a rockery or a scree bed (which quite frankly sounds like some sort of futon from the latest Ikea catalogue).

But I am now a convert, not least because they are perfect for kids being small, sweet and often tough and hardy.

Yesterday, the children and I planted up some of our latest purchases in the colander I recycled from last year's strawberry growing experiment (not sure how hygienic it was to put this though the dishwasher, but no one appears to have contracted anything fatal... yet).

We lined the colander with moss.  This is easy to rake up from most lawns at this time of year (although, not mine, so I nabbed it from some graves in the churchyard instead - for the record, this is best not done as it's getting dark and whilst you are still in the midst of reading Twilight...).

The kids then mixed some horticultural grit with compost (these plants like extra drainage as they can rot off in wet soil) and placed in the Saxifraga paniculata  'Lutea', Sempervivums (houseleeks) and Sedum acre 'Aureum'.  The latter is something of a thug if it gets the chance, but I will forgive it that for its having the best (and possibly most sarcastic) name of any plant I know - 'Welcome-Home-Husband-Though-Never-So-Drunk' (yeah... right).

The colander has the added benefit of giving holes all around which are perfect for housing the new baby sempervivums which the children poked through. Child-sized hands are also ideal for 'top dressing' around the plants with grit.

Best of all, these particular alpines are hardy succulents which translates as 'you can ignore us, neglect us and forget to water us but still we will not die'.  Given my history with container gardening and memory lapses, this is a very, very good thing.


hydropiper said:

I love this colander planted with Semps etc. It looks really funky and space age. Thumbs up for a good recycling idea, I may just pinch it for myself! With regards to recycling other household items, an old washing machine drum buried in the ground, makes a great container for restricting the root growth of Figs, whilst still allowing water in and out through exsisting holes in the drum.

on 12 Feb 2010 at 08:59 PM