Friday, 27 March 2015

Creating a sink garden

Here in Daventry our garden is far smaller than the one we had in Byfield, so now I'm thinking small scale.

Our friends Lynda and Damien have passed on to us an old glazed sink. My intention is to hide the glazing by coating it with hypertufa, a blend of coarse sand, cement and peat-free compost in the ratio of 3:1:1; this gives a stone-like appearance and texture, hopefully making the sink look authentic. Lots of alternative mixtures for hypertufa are suggested on line, but yer pays yer money...

The job I wasn't relishing was chipping the glaze. This is done to give the hypertufa a better bond with the sink surface, but what do I find? Damien has already gone over the sink with some sort of chisel. Job done. (I owe him a pint!) But I may also apply a coating of black bitumastic sealant to the surface.

Ugly and unwanted. 27 November, 2014

The sink is already very heavy; once the hypertufa has been applied it will be even heavier (what an advantage to know a bit of physics!) so I'll manhandle it into its final resting place before starting.

I decided to wait until the chance of a hard frost had receded. I could have started in mid-winter, applying the hypertufa and then and draping the sink with sacking but decided to exercise a little prudence.

So it was early March before I decided it was safe to go ahead. I was anticipating a slow, laborious job but the hypertufa clung better if I slapped it on firmly and I got the sink covered in about half an hour.

Nearly there. 14 March, 2015

It looked a bit rough and lumpy but that was really the finish I was looking for. Obviously there was no point in treating the inside.

The soil had to be free-draining - most alpines hate wet conditions - and I used equal parts of coarse sand, John Innes No 2 and multipurpose compost. Chunks of York flagstone were used to provide crevices. It looks rather like some sort of limestone but in fact contains little or no calcium carbonate, making it conveniently neutral.

All planted up! 27 March, 2015
On 26 March, having received a box of plants I was able to get them in.  I only put in six plants as it was important to allow room for them to grow. Now it is just a question of keeping an eye on the watering - and waiting.

Saxifraga x irvingii 'Jenkinsii'  27 March, 2015

Elsewhere some of my alpines are now in flower. This is Saxifraga x irvingii  'Jenkinsii' and considering that I only planted it a few weeks ago I am pleased at how it has settled in. The Saxifrages ('rock breakers') include some lovely little plants and I can see me growing lots of them.

Saxifrage'Peach Melba'. 27 March, 2015

The rather similar Saxifraga 'Peach Melba' (both this and 'Jenkinsii' are members of the Porphyrion group) has also settled in well and the cushions should get larger each year.

I am encouraged by progress so far and in two or three months there could be lots of colour. Who needs half an acre!

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