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Alpines and rock garden plants may be grown in the crevices of dry-stone walls, and these include the retaining walls of raised beds and sloping banks. The most suitable plants to be grown in this way are trailing plants. If possible try to plan for any planting in walls before construction work starts. Leave planting niches at intervals in the wall and plant them up when the building work is finished. It is also a good idea to position the plants while construction is in process. This is an easy way to plant and also it makes easier to eliminate air pockets in the compost and firm it around the roots.

Plant in a Dry-stone Wall

If you already have the walls and you want to plant them then you must remove some of the soil from the crevices with a widger or teaspoon before planting. Check if there is an adequate amount of compost in the crevices to support the plants. Use seedlings or small rooted cuttings, since these fit easily in the crevices.

Place the plants on the flat of a stone and using a widger, small dibber or a pencil to ease the roots into the crevices. Do not try to cram roots into too small spaces as this will damage the plants. Bed the plants down into compost and add more compost into the crevices to hold the plants in position. Firm the compost well with a widger or with your fingers, if enough space, to remove any air pockets. It may be helpful to wedge small stones around the collars of the plants to hold them in place and to prevent the compost from becoming dislodged.

When you finished planting all the plants, water them from the top of the wall or with a mist spray and keep spraying them regularly until the plants are established. After several days top up any sunken areas with spare compost and periodically check the plants and refirm any that have worked loose.

When planting in vertical crevices, fill the crevice with a gritty compost and carefully ease in the roots of the plant. Cover the roots with compost and then wedge in a small stone, sloping it down the rock-face. Firm further compost into the crevice.

When planting in walls you should use a special compost mix for filling the planting crevices in the walls. The right mixture is made of 3 parts loam or good sterilized garden soil, 2 parts coarse peat substitute or peat and 1-2 parts sharp sand or grit. Use some extra grit, sand or stone chippings for plants that are to be grown in the wall itself to ensure a good drainage.

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Sempervivum

Sempervivum, also known on their common name as Houseleeks or Hens and Chicks, are succulent evergreen perennials that produce low, compact, evergreen, flower-like rosettes of succulent leaves. The plants send out numerous offsets, and spread in this manner to form a dense colony. The parent rosettes are the hens, and the smaller rosettes that spring from them are the chicks or chickens.

Although grown for its foliage, usually used in rock gardens, hens and chicks do flower. Flowers of up to half a metre develop on the branches and their colour vary from rose to pink. The foliage of hens and chicks plants are normally green at the base and reddish brown at the tip, all with close, rigid dented edges.

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