Alpine Garden in Miniature

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Many alpine plants are tiny in stature and rather delicate looking, but planted in the garden they’ll get lost among the larger and more assertive types of plants.


Why not highlight them by planting them into a hypertufa trough? 

Many plants do exceptionally well in the conditions that hypertufa offers.  They love the excellent drainage, and it’s almost as though you’re copying the situation that they originated in; a mountain crag. 

Display these troughs in full sun for the best growth habit of these tough plants.


This trough is about a foot long and maybe 9″ or so across.  Generally, these kinds of troughs are displayed on bricks to raise them up off the ground and prevent creepy crawlies from getting in the drain hole. 

Even earth worms, although valued in other parts of the garden, can be a problem for these kinds of gardens as they will break down the soil faster.


Some of the best kinds of plants are those that are small in stature, and not competitive.  This makes for a compatible grouping that won’t need transplanting for at least a couple of years.


I chose some plants that have been in the same pots for a couple of years, as you can see from the moss growing on the surface.  They’ll appreciate some new soil once they get established. 

I generally remove (quite roughly, I’m ashamed to say) most of the soil from around the roots.  Luckily, they don’t seem to mind this kind of treatment, and recover quickly.


The soil I used here is about half and half recycled soil, mixed with a bit of steer manure, and small pea gravel. 

There is also a tiny amount of lava rock, with lots of fines mixed in.  This is usually something I avoid, because fines (small particles) can cause problems with clogging up the soil column, but there is so little in here I’m not too concerned.


And the finished result – mulched with a bit more of the pea gravel.  You could use almost anything as a mulch for these, but the more natural, the better.  And, only a mineral mulch, not bark or wood chips or anything of an organic nature.

I might give the plants a bit of compost tea at some point during the summer, and water it a bit if it’s super hot and dry, otherwise, they get very little care.  Who has time, after all?

Time after all, just keeps on going. And here we are in September and the plants are looking great;

hypertufa trough in september