I have long wanted to create an alpine scree bed, after admiring them elsewhere, such as the alpine scree beds found at Edinburgh Botanical Gardens. Scree beds aim to emulate the rocky sides of mountains, only, in an urban garden. Finally, I had a smaller and flatter space, that I thought might be just right for the implementation of this little dream.
The above space is where my Damson tree sits, along with a small container pond (more about that another time). The roots of damson tree grow down deep, and it seemed like the remaining space would be a good place for a scree bed, as alpines don’t have deep roots and therefore won’t really be competing for the same space.
Though the border is slightly raised up, the soil is very heavy acid clay, and is next to an area that gets surface flooding during longer periods of wet weather. As alpines prefer well-drained soil and don’t like wet feet, we dug out c. 45cms down, laid the bottom 20cms with decent sized stones and pebbles, then back-filled with a 50/50 peat-free compost and sand.
This border was created last summer, and the 2020/21 wet winter was a good test of how well the drainage was, and whether I got the depth and compost/sand ratios correct. We had a lot of standing water in the purple shale path right next to the border, which I confessed did worry me. Would the alpine plants there survive and thrive?!
It turns out, the answer was a resounding YES!
Despite flooding nearby, the alpine bed wasn’t affected at all and there is lots of green growth. Below are a couple of plants that have already flowered.
Overall, I’m pleased with how it’s going so far. The scree bed also has alpine Geraniums and Erodiums that will flower in the next few weeks. I have some Sempervirens and Jovibarbas to go in, and there is space for a few more alpines too. I sense a visit to my favourite alpine nursery (the Alpine Plant Centre, in the Peak District) is in the stars.