Tuesday, November 6, 2018

It's about the plants, honey!

Aloinopsis spathulata
We have grown Aloinopsis spathulata in Colorado for over 30 years: it can persist four or five years but seems to eventually disappear...but only at the Crevice Garden at Simms APEX does it self sow rather vigorously along the path.

People pooh pooh crevice gardens as stark, and rock gardens as artificial in urban settings. But if you want to grow treasures like these, this is the way to do it.

What follows is a photogallery of mostly highly unusual and often challenging plants that are growing superbly in the crevice garden designed only a few years ago by Kenton Seth and Paul Spriggs: it has been a huge education for me, and I believe it signals a fantastic way to grow an enormous range of steppe climate plants well in all sorts of climatic regions. I am restreaining myself and sticking to just labeling the pictures. I think they speak eloquently by themselves!

Khadia alticola
This has proved pretty cold tolerant--but looks especially happy here. These pictures were taken through the year--from early spring to late autumn. This garden is a season long procession of color and interest
Tulipa linifolia and Erigeron compositus

Agave toumeyana and Silene acaulis (an unlikely combo!)

Astragalusn utahensis ex John Stireman

Aethionema cf subulatum and Fritillaria uva-vulpis

Delosperma sphalmanthoides and Townsendia leptotes 'Jeanie's Purple'

Castilleja integra

Monardella macrantha 'Marian Sampson'

Muhlenbergia reverchonii 'Undaunted'

Chrysanthemum hosmariense (dwf. hardy form)

Salvia greggii

Agastache rupestris

Astragalus sp. (maybe Oxytropis). Not sure which

Eriogonum cf ovalifolium

Castilleja integra

Penstemon deustus foreground, Erigeron elegantulus and so on and so forth up the hill...

Moltia petraea

Heuchera pulchella and Junellia succulentifolia

Eriogonum umbellatum 'Shasta Sulphur'

Penstemon laricifolius v. laricifolius right center, Pterocephalus depressus center left

Stachys lavandulifolia and Phlox nana

Penstemon linarioiodes

Eriogonum ovalifolium center, Pediocactus simpsonii right

 Erodium cf. petraeume

Eriogonum ovalifolium

Heterotheca jonesii

Echinocereus x lloydii

Eriogonum pulchrum

Eriogonum ovalifolium v. purpureum in leaf (late summer)

Maihuenia poeppigii

Iris reticulata

Iris reticulata

Yucca nana

Eriogonum ovalifolium

Echinocdereus x viridiflorus and Lesquerella ovalifolia

Erigeron elegantulus

Phlox nana

Nananthus x Aloinopsuis

Ruschia pulvinaris

Anthemis cretica

Lesquerella ovalifolia (top) and Erigeron linearis (bottom)

Delosperma congestum and Erigeron compositus

Erodium cf petraeum center

Gymnocalycium bruchii

Delosperma alpinum

Astragalus utahensis


More views                                                                                                                                                                                          

Echinocereus x viridiflorus

Kenton Seth contemplating his next task
Kenton is the mastermind of dozens of private gardens as well as a half dozen major public displays. His knack with plants equals his talent with rocks.

Do check out his blog: I need a cup of Tea....it's always interesting!

Paul Spriggs at his home crevice gardens in Victoria, British Columbia, I visited a few months ago. Kenton has had Paul help on his larger public garden projects such as here in APEX. They make a formidable team!

Paul and Kenton are well on their way to writing a book on Crevice Gardening which I suspect will be an instant classic. And the plants in this blog are surely fifty very good reason why!

In response to this blog, Kenton sent some elucidation which I think he might not object to my adding at this point (although the first 250 or so blog viewers will miss it:

"As a matter of accuracy, the design of APEX and Cheyenne are mine, but I got Paul's help for execution; but execution should not be undervalued, it's everything! Because not everyone can do it- in fact, no one can do it like Paul.   And I wish I could say that speed of build is not important, but in a public garden, it very much is, so it is worth seeking out a friend and doubling up our speed.  Obviously, its also a great way to connect the culture of rock gardening across borders and involve more folks as well as just hang out with friends.  
"But I was the one who was paid to spend hours and nights hashing over pictures with the client, re-drawing sketches, and interviewing everybody who might have contact with the garden to create its limitations, aesthetic, et al, then sourcing/scheduling everything...

"The book, however, is 100% collaboration, in fact, I need to catch up to Paul today; he's been writing his ass off and is quite ahead of me!"


  1. I can't wait for the Crevice Gardening book. Oh the plants...

  2. These pictures make me miss receiving Alan's seed catalog. Now that he has retired and is not making any new collects, I no longer have a source for many things I grew in the past.

  3. What can one say except "WOW"!!! This is the pinnacle of plant perfection and landscape design, Art at it's highest form. This ranks right up there with the finest vignettes built at Wilton's Bush (Otari Native Plant Garden) in NZ. Simply stunning and I must travel to see this rock garden!

  4. Beautiful plants, huge respect for taking care of nature :) All the flowers look great, I hope that they will stay in this state for a long time, I am waiting for the next entries, greetings.


Featured Post

A garden near lake Tekapo

The crevice garden of Michael Midgley Just a few years old, this crevice garden was designed and built by Michael Midgley, a delightful ...

Blog Archive