Sunday, July 17, 2011


I thought this notice rather amusing. It was on the back of the door, in the ladies toilet, at Montacute House.

I don't actually think either of us need lessons in dry stone walling. This was David's retaining wall. He lumbered every one of those stones, uphill, from the far reaches of our lot.

And the other one he built off the driveway, when I told him that the retama tree, which seeded itself in the piles of rubbles we dumped there, had to stay. What a player.

My efforts included the circular dry stone wall for which our English garden was named. It was one of the first projects in this garden and caused me some agony when I trapped a finger between two stones.

The problem is, I am having little success growing plant in between the stones. I was thrilled when I saw a columbine had seeded itself there, but that is just about all.

Even this graptopetalum is in need of some help. I really do need to try harder particularly after seeing what grows between the cracks in those English gardens.

The star of all wall plantings has to be the campanula. It has made itself at home in a crack in this brick wall. If it likes mortar surely it would like to grow in one of my walls. Likely it would need shade.

and ten feet up in the air on the face of this whitewashed wall I saw in Wales.

Trailing over stone steps.

I certainly have plenty of violets. I wonder if they would be happy on my wall.

Here was a plant I saw growing in all kinds of places but here it had settled itself into a crack in the wall.

I now have a greater determination to add some credibility to the name "English Garden."


  1. What gardener doesn't love the idea of little plants establishing themselves in the tiny pockets of dirt or grit in a stone or brick wall? Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Your walls are quite impressive, even without plants growing in them.

  3. What a fun story! I love plants that grow in rock walls. I bet your columbine will look like that last one soon. But I agree, your walls are just lovely as they are.

  4. What terrific photos of stone walls and walks and plants wanting to come to life. I live in a Stone house and am partial but these are great!

    I see you are in Central Texas. I'm outside Fort Worth - Dallas and know the kind of heat you are fighting. Hottest and driest in many years. I can only go in backyard from 6 a - 8 a. Some of your photos gave me inspiration. Never been very big on gravel or rock yards but you have some beautiful examples.

  5. Are you saying that most (all?) of those excellent stones came from your property? If so, how fantastic!

    Have you tried any sedum?

  6. Well, to be fair, they have rain and you don't (me neither). I have been successful in growing a angelina (Sedum rupestre) in my rock wall. Love how talented you two are in wall making! See you soon!

  7. Stone masons indeed. Campanula looks great in Britain. They always rot for me, Scabiosa too. The only thing that does well in my rock walls is a chameleon plant and you don't want those!

  8. Not much reseeds, grows or takes hold in such spaces in that weather...soon, this shall pass. Unless you turn into New Mexico!

    I also like the way the rock wall looks in front of the modern, concrete wall.

  9. Well David did a fantastic job! Those walls look great! Very impressive. I love the way it looks when plants grow in the cracks on walls as well. For me they seem to grow where I do NOT want them and never where I intend for them to grow.... I have not tried it so much here in Austin as we don't really have any walls for the plants to grow but when I was in Houston they never seemed to do as I planned. Good luck- I think the violet would be a good one to try, pretty anyway; a happy little plant.

  10. Linda-it's really scary being away from my garden and seeing there is still no rain. You are right, a couple of hours in the morning and if you miss the time slot- you have missed any chance of gardening for that day. Always too hot in the evening.
    Alan- Yes, al. When we were building I was out there every day saving stones because I new I was going to have walls to build. Most of those stones I used in the circular wall. As you can see they are not too large. David just went out searching for the others. We are on limestone and there are lots of ledges.

  11. The retaining walls in your garden look terrific just as they are.

  12. Plants and stone walls just go together so well. Beautiful!

  13. Your home-grown rock walls are amazing, Jenny- but wow, our terrain is so different! I covet those flat rocks! Most of the rocks we've found in our yard are roundish, brown, and smaller than a grapefruit.

    The campanula in Wales are excruciatingly lovely. I imagine in a normal climate the rock walls will keep the interior & soil cool, but in contrary Texas fashion, rocks probably keep the interior HOT here! Good luck with getting something pretty to grow.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    PS I think the reddish flower in the photo just below the violets is Centranthus ruber/Jupiter's Beard - looks like what I grew in Illinois.

  14. I loved this post. There's nothing more surprising than a rock wall with plants bursting from a crevice.
    Me? I'm just happy to have plants grow between the rocks on the ground here in Texas. I think the dynamics change dramatically when the rooting media (or lack of it) is a wall. However, a northern exposure would have the best luck since the rocks are not directly blasted by sun and moisture is retained. Do you have a northern exposure to work with?

    As far as plants, I've seen opuntias grown out of vertical rock walls, but that's a far cry from the beautiful flowers of England. Keep looking around Austin. I'll bet you'll find a wall with flowers somewhere. Great post. David/ Tropical Texana/ Houston

  15. Your stone walls are great!
    Some gardeners have a secret for growing plants on the rocks.
    They put the seeds in water, in a hand sprinkler and spread the seeds through the gaps easily.
    Some have managed to grow, are Erigeron, I love it! .
    Arabis caucasica, there is a lovely variegated and it's very resistant.

  16. Sweet Bay-Thanks. However, I really am going to work on getting some plants int here.
    Annie- I'm afraid my problem was not putting enough soil in between. It just seems to dry out. Someone did identify the red plant, which was just growing everywhere. I thought they said it was Spanish lilac, but looked that up and it was not right. I'll check on the name you gave me.
    David- Parts of one and all of the large one have northern exposure but no irrigation. Maybe if I put a sprinkler on there to establish something it may survive with the cool rot run int he rocks.
    Yolanda- Erigeron is definitely one that should grow here. I saw that in lots of walls. It is a heavy re-seeder in my garden. Thanks for the idea.

  17. I have that red plant growing wild all over the hill above my house in different shades of pink. I came across a post somewhere that called it garden valerian, also called Centranthus ruber as Annie wrote.

    Some people call it a weed but I love it.

  18. I also agree, the red plant is Centranthus ruber. There are different varieties and I also grow the variety Alba.
    Here grow and reseed very well in my front yard of gravel.
    I remembered an interesting plant, Asplenium ceterach.
    It's a tough fern in full sun and grows here in the dry stone walls. I have some and are lovely.

  19. Centranthus it is. Thanks everyone for the id.

  20. I'm impressed with the stone walls you have created in your garden. If you ever find the secret of encouraging plants to grow and thrive in the cracks here in Texas, be sure and let us know!