Sunday, August 26, 2007

Planting the Rock Wall with Sedum and Heathers

We went to Rosso Nursery in Georgetown and picked up a bunch of sedum and heathers for filling in our continually weed-choked retaining wall in the backyard. I also picked up a couple of Point Reyes Ceanothus plants because I want to see what the growth habit is like.

Our haul. The green ones in front are winter-blooming pink heathers. We're going for a rosy look, with purple and pink and orange-pink colors. Though I could be wrong, I think these will look nice under the Julia Phelps Ceanothus, if any of these happen to bloom in May.


We have a LOT of rock wall to plant. We started at the top. We'll continue to fill it in once the fall plant sales start. (Can I remind everyone that when we moved in, we didn't even know this rock wall existed -- the yard was THAT overgrown with junipers and weeds.)


I'm afraid these plants will get washed away when the next heavy rains hit, but what are you gonna do?





Anonymous said...

Thanks for the fall planting reminder; time to cutback on purchasing summer reads, and high-tail it down to Rosso’s , who by the way also recommended heather for our smaller version of your rock wall. For whatever reason, sedum and other rockery plants had a stronger appeal, and now I’m totally enamored of them.

Taking on a neglected rock wall is a daunting task, but your work so far looks amazing. To anchor the plants from run off, try using cedar shims, split to fit, and shoving them in ground just below the plants, if space allows. Once the plant is established, the shims can be removed. The results have been mixed on our rock wall, but no plants have been lost, yet. A real performer has been antennara dioica, or Pussytoes. It has quick growing, “silvery-green, mat-forming foliage”, and has thrived despite neglect that has left other plants looking exhausted.

Good luck, and keep us updated with pictures as the work progresses.

chuck b. said...

What's up with all the rock walls in Seattle? Everyone has big, BIG rocks in Seattle. Where did those rocks come from? How old are those rock walls? As old as the house, presumably..?

JvA said...

Thanks for all the tips, Susan! I may just try the cedar shims, once we get some of the other spaces filled in the coming month or so.

Sedum was probably a lower maintenance choice for your rock wall. I've been reading about heathers, and it seems you're supposed to deadhead the spent flowers as soon as they're done in order to keep them from looking to straggly. With a bunch of staggered bloom times, this could be more work than I'm going to feel like doing.

Chuck, I don't know how old our rock wall is. I should ask my neighbor.

Are big rock walls not common in San Francisco?

Seattle sits on a bunch of hills (Beacon, First, Capitol, Queen Anne, etc.), so lots of homeowners have to figure out some way to terrace steep grades. And I imagine that big basalt rocks are relatively cheap here, given that we're only ~20 miles out from the edge of the volcanically active Cascades. Plus, basalt is an aesthetically inoffensive choice. And the bigger the rocks, the less weeding you'll have to do.

The bad thing about basalt is that it cracks easily.