Garden Club: Gardening in the rocks and woods

Guest speaker at monthly Sooke Garden Club meeting

Primula scotica grows in the wild only in Northern Scotland. Found in Caithness

Guest speaker at monthly Sooke Garden Club meeting

I recently had a phone conversation with Gordon MacKay about his upcoming talk at the Sooke Garden Club. The presentation is titled Alpines in Rock, Wood & Crevice Gardens, but I wanted (make that needed) a bit more information to share with readers. It wasn’t until I hung up, however, that I realized that I had actually never heard the term ‘crevice garden.’

A crevice garden, I soon learned from Mentor Google, is a special kind of rock garden. It can be as large or as small as desired; it can even be constructed in a trough or some other type of container. Put simply, the idea is to build a raised bed by arranging rocks closely together in a vertical pattern, thereby creating lots of narrow cracks and crevices. Small alpine plants are then planted in the crevices and allowed to spread and cascade over the rocks. Crevice gardens are apparently quite common in Europe, less so in North America. Yet they seem a harmonious fit for this area, given our topography, and can be seen occurring naturally all over the Island.

My brief chat with Gordon led me to conclude that the title of his presentation is, as titles often are, a bit too limiting. It might be more accurate to say that he is going to talk broadly about rock, woodland and crevice gardening, whether on a large or small scale, and cultivating plants that can thrive in these diverse settings. More specifically, he will discuss the advantages of crevice gardens, the kinds of plants to choose for them, and where/how to place those plants. He will also address some of the do’s and don’ts of rock gardening more generally, including building, siting and planting. And, yes, he will be talking about plants: alpines and dwarf shrubs (including conifers) that give structure, colour and texture to these types of gardens. Finally, he intends to do some myth busting about certain plants and offer insights into propagation and cultivation.

Gordon MacKay hails from Scotland, where he earned top honours at the renowned Threave School of Gardening and later specialized in hardy nursery stock production at Pershore College of Horticulture. In 1994, he was asked to come to Vancouver Island for a year to help set up and establish a specialty plant nursery. He is still here, running Alba Plants in Cowichan Bay, and still keen on developing and extending the range of plants, which he grows without harmful pesticides. He is also part of the therapeutic horticulture team at Providence Farm and a horticulture instructor at Camosun College.

Join us on Wednesday, February 26, 7:00 p.m., at St. Rose of Lima Church on Townsend Road.

New members are always welcome (annual fee: $15). This month’s meeting also features a seed exchange and a parlour show.

Questions? Visit our website at sookegardenclub.ca, email sookegardenclub@yahoo.ca, or phone Rose at 250-642-5509.

Contributed by Loretta Fritz

 

The Sooke Garden Club was established in 1971 as a means for residents of the Sooke Region to come together to share experiences, learn from experts, and enjoy the camaraderie and benefits to be derived from a common interest in gardening and horticulture. In turn, the club contributes to the community through monetary donations, gardening-related volunteer work/support, and committee participation.

Persons may join the Sooke Garden Club at any time during the year. A membership card entitles the cardholder to discounts at various garden centres in the area