20 tried and tested plants for a green roof


A Tapestry of Shade-Loving Plants

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This is approximately one third of one of the three rectangular raised beds in my woodland garden at the front of my house. It contains a number of shade loving plants that provide a continuously changing tapestry of interest throughout the year. The slideshow above tells you what each of the plants is and its season of interest. Continue reading

Spring bulbs in pots

I chose these bulbs for their fairly monochrome hues which suit the colour scheme of our house. The narcissi are small, scented, delicate flowered varieties. I had hoped to display the black and white tulips at the same time, but their flowering did not overlap – Queen of Night opening a full week after Purissima had finished.

Having grown them in the cold greenhouse overwinter they were free of weather damage, and had a pleasing architectural quality to their growth. As each pot came into flower they were brought into the house, where they provided weeks of pleasure and fragrance. Indoors, the higher temperature accelerated their blossoming, so as each showed signs of going over they were moved outside by the front door, where the cool March weather brought their progress back to a crawl. Some of them look as if they will continue for a couple more weeks.

Spring arrives in the woodland garden…

The snowdrops have been showing for more than a week, but today – (Feb 17th) – the watery sunshine is making the air throb…

The fine bunched fingers of snowdrop foliage, lush blue-green, chime with the hellebores’ apple-blossom-blushes.

Evergreen fronds of Korean rock fern (Polystichum tsussimense) provide a contrasting lacy stiffness ~ they always fit in here. Nearby, variegated arum lily and cyclamen create a tapestry of winter foliage that will die back before the summer. Jostling them, vibrant green Narcissus buds, fit to burst, threaten a change of tempo. They’ll shake up the colour pallet and give the whole scene a second life…

…but that’s a few days away.

ID Parade

Can you identify these three apples?
A. (left) 129 g. Sweet, fruity, aromatic, mildly acidic.
B. (centre) 213 g. Sweet, floral, crisp, well balanced acidity.
C. (right) 165 g. Honey-sweet, aromatic, crunchy, tangy, fruity bouquet.

It has been a very good season for apples in my garden this year. I train my fruit trees as espaliers and cordons so do not get vast numbers – which is good – but I do get good plently of good quality fruits, and this year some were very large. As you can see above I collected three of the largest specimens for comparison, the smallest variety being 7cm across, the largest 9cm.

I’m pretty sure about variety A and B, but if C is the variety claimed on the label then it should only be 5 – 6 cm diameter. Or perhaps I have just grown the largest examples known! 

So, can you identify the three varieties above?

Answers on a post card please (or perhaps it would be quicker just to leave a comment below?)

The Green Roof – in June

Here is a view across part of the green roof, showing how far it has come on since my last Green Roof update. The plants have become establishes, and I have added many new plants which are all thriving in just 7 to 13cm of soil, with only occasional watering – once or twice per month – to help them through their first year.

The secret of success in these situations is to choose plants that grow naturally in hot, dry, exposed situations. In the above picture, middle, foreground you can see  Lampranthus cooperi – a half-hardy Mesembryanthemum relative with succulent foliage and bright magenta daisy flowers (which are closed up in the photo). It loves these conditions, although it may struggle to make it through a wet British winter – we will see.

The seed heads here are from the Muscari bulbs that finished a while ago. Top left is a new addition –Dianthus deltoides ‘flashing lights’ – many small dark red flowers over dense dark green (almost black) foliage. In the bottom right corner you can see some crimson stonecrop (Sedum spurium ‘Coccineum’)

Here, biting stonecrop (Sedum acre) is colonising a bare patch of gravely soil. Small fragments dislodged by birds probably, have rooted and started to grow. The main clumps are about to come into flower.

Dianthus ‘Flashing lights’, surrounded by the grey blades of Festuca glauca.

The pink lollipop flowers of thrift do so well in this situation – flowering for weeks on end. The grass to the left is Ponytail grass (stipa tenuissima) with very fine tall blades, held upright, but not stiffly, catching the slightest breeze. The inflorescence is equally delicate, transparent, like a veil.

An experiment that is proving highly successful: On the left – a fern polypodium vulgare, and on the left, golden Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummulariaAurea‘). Both of these plants tend to be associated with damp shade, but both are just fine in the extreme conditions of the roof-garden it seems. I have seen our native polypody fern as an epiphyte on old oak trees in Devon, colonising dry stone walls in Wales, and covering the top of the high stone walls of the ruined Abbey at Winchelsea – exposed, dry and sun-baked. So I shouldn’t be surprised to see the five clumps on my green roof putting out new fronds quite happily.

Three recently added plants, left to right: Silver shamrock (Oxalis adenophylla) – blue-green pleated foliage and transparent pink flowers in May; Sedum spathulifolium ‘Cape Blanco’ silver-grey succulent clumps; A red Houseleek (Sempervivum var.) – which is spreading rapidly – it likes the sun and exposed aspect.