Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Plants for Nooks and Crannies

Purplish-green foliage of coral bells in joints of the stone patio.

Hello fellow readers, Natural stone paths are charming, especially when decorated with cute little plants in the nooks and crannies. Done well, they look as though Mother Nature has invited you to meander. Rachel of Bangor, PA, asked how to create a step-stone path with plants that won’t mind being stepped on.

If the path is primary, construct it like a dry-laid walkway; without concrete. Excavate the area considering the thickness of the stone and the necessary base material of compacted gravel, quarry process, and sand. Thicker stone is best in freeze/thaw climates such as ours. A sandy soil mix fills the joints you wish to plant. There are issues of grading, drainage, and proper spacing to consider; hence hiring a professional installer is wise. You can lay less-used paths in soil. Still, each stepping stone needs to be leveled in compacted sand or quarry process.

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Garden Blog,Northern New Jersey Landscape Designer, planting in nooks and crannies, Ajuga reptans 'Silver Beauty', Thymus 'Pink Chintz’, Wells Sweep Herb Farm

Thymus’ Pink Chintz’

There’s creeping thyme that smells wonderful as you step for the planting part. There’s the classic Wooly Thyme (Thymus praecox ‘Pseudolanuginosus’) and varieties such as Elfin Thyme (Thymus serpyllum ‘Elfin’) that forms a mat of gray-green foliage with light pink flowers that cover the foliage in summer. David of Well-Sweep Herb Farm in Port Murray, NJ, advised that creeping thyme attracts bees and therefore is not ideal for barefooted traffic. Instead, there’s Mazus (Mazus reptan), a sturdy creeper covered with tiny purple or white flowers in early spring. Beware if you have many chipmunks, though, as they mowed them down at a client’s home just up the road apiece. I’m fond of Pink Chintz Thyme (Thymus’ Pink Chintz’) blooms earlier in spring when folks aren’t likely in bare feet.

How about a low-growing Stonecrop like ‘John Creech’ or ‘Red Carpet’ (Sedum spurium)? Or, Dwarf Bugleweed Ajuga (Ajuga x ‘Chocolate Chip’) with mottled chocolate foliage that likes full sun or shade or Ajuga reptans’ Silver Beauty’ pictured below.

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Garden Blog,Northern New Jersey Landscape Designer, planting in nooks and crannies, Ajuga reptans 'Silver Beauty', Thymus 'Pink Chintz’, Wells Sweep Herb Farm

Ajuga reptans’ Silver Beauty.’

 

Let’s not forget Irish Moss (Sagina subulata) with its lush carpet of green fuzz for shadier spots. Then there’s the enchanting Bronze Dutch Clover (Trifolium repens ‘Atropurpureum’) with maroon leaves edged in green.

I love the Lady’s Mantel (Alchemilla mollis) and Coral Bells (Heuchera’ Palace Purple’) that have self-seeded on my patio, becoming miniatures of their mother plants. Granted, with plants in your nooks and crannies, there’s weeding to do until the good stuff takes over. But there’s something therapeutic about weeding undesirables, just as in the garden of life.

Garden Dilemmas? AskMaryStone@gmail.com (and on your favorite Podcast App.)

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Garden Blog,Northern New Jersey Landscape Designer, planting in nooks and crannies, Ajuga reptans 'Silver Beauty', Thymus 'Pink Chintz’, Wells Sweep Herb Farm, weeding undesirables

There is therapy in weeding undesirables :^)

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Garden Blog,Northern New Jersey Landscape Designer, planting in nooks and crannies, Ajuga reptans 'Silver Beauty', Thymus 'Pink Chintz’, Wells Sweep Herb Farm, weeding undesirables

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Column updated 4/4/22 

Stepables has a nifty site to search for plants in nooks and crannies right for your area.

Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary
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