Feb 15, 2008 | 10:05 AM PST
Last Friday we went to Stamford open air market - market days are tuesday and friday- and I purchased three more alpines for the scree garden. More garden tidying up revealed that my alpine strawberry in the growing wall had died. It looked as if birds had beaked it up. On the tuesday round to all the nearby garden centres but no alpine strawberry plants. Back to the computer and logged on to the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) plant finder. You provide a plant common or latin name and it lists up nurseries and garden centres where it is available. Nearest on is located at a place called Pinchbeck in the Fens. Off to Pinchbeck, no sign of said nursery. Called in to another garden center and asked if they knew location. After much discussion on of the staff gave precise directions, so after lunch the directions were followed further into the fens and at last we found it! Joy gave way to misery as the nursery was run down with no stock. Went home by another rout and became ensnared by road works and diversions. Finally back home thinking that a cheap air fare to Switzerland complete with trowel would have been a better solution. The name of the nursery has been omitted to protect the innocent?!??!!. The hunt goes on. For some of you with long memories earlier in the week we went to Connington to see the memorial to the 8th army airforce bomber group that was stationed there during WWII. The runway is still in use by a private company. The church yard was full of snowdrops and aconites and plenty of bird song. Very different from the 1940s. Thought you would like to know.
Peterborough is situated in a depression and has a fairly pleasant micro climate. It is near to sea level and a few miles to the east a great deal of land is below sea level. Like Holland we are used to using roads that are well below the banked river that runs along side. What are called levees in the USA we call washes where very high are allowed to flood.
The leaves hang on to the deciduous trees until mid november and now some buds are begining to show. Quite a few gardens have hardy palm trees, a sign of climate change perhaps and people are begining to set olive trees. Further north and west it is still a little too cool for them in winter. I have oleanders growing in pots in the garden and they flower each summer and are doing very well. In the south there are many vinyards and English wine is now winning prizes-True!
Now for scree- Scree is the name given to the small fragments of stone that fill gullies on mountain slopes. What i hve done is to build an irregular mound of earth some 15 feet by 6 feet, cover it with weed proof membrane- NOT BLACK PLASTIC SHEET. Rocks are then placed a various points- sloped in to retain the scree and provide pockets of shelter. For scree I use pea gravel and coloured granite chippings to provide contrasting colours, (pink, purple, white, gray granite are in most garden centres and the gravel provides sandy colours). The scree is about 4 inches deep (10cms).
The plants are planted with the compost in their pot still in place and the fine roots will go through the membrane. The scree provides the drainage that alpines need and also stops damp on their leaves. My scree garden is now five years old and the plants have spread and thrive well. Weeding is near to zero but one last point - place the rocks so that they are also suitable stepping stones. All mountains have an alpine region and there may be some fascinating North American ones,