Congratulations to Michael Larkin (plantman56) of Harrisburg, PA for his winning entry to the June Photo Challenge: https://www.finegardening.com/item/9540/alpine-garden
To see more of Michael’s hypertufa containers, visit his webshots album: http://home-and-garden.webshots.com/album/72936426UnvInU?start=24
We asked Michael to tell us a little about his experience as a gardener, and specifically about his alpine container garden:
“I have been gardening for more than 30 years. My home gardens are filled with all shapes and sizes of conifers: weeping, upright, prostrate and miniature. As I ran out of space in my yard, container gardening was a way to continue with my compulsion to have more plants.
I started making containers about 15 years ago after visiting large display garden at a Nursery in Oregon. I was on a garden tour with the American Conifer Society, and saw some unusually stone-like containers that were planted with some really spectacular miniature conifers and alpine plants. I was hooked. I found out that the containers were made of hypertufa (Portland cement, peat and perlite) After a little research and some trial and error I was able to create these stone like containers for my garden. My current garden now contains a variety of different size hypertufa containers, filled with conifers and alpines.
My alpine container garden was created quite by accident. I was trying to make a hollow concrete sphere but it never made it to completion. To make the sphere (eventually this container), I used a small child’s rubber ball and covered it with a mixture of Portland cement, sand and a little terracotta cement dye. About half way around the ball I stopped applying the mixture. I should have finished making the sphere, but it was my first attempt and I gave up too early. I removed the ball and the result was this container.
I enjoy easy care containers. The plants in this container require little maintenance. Sedum sieboldii ‘Variegatum’ is planted in the upper center, a variety of Sempervivums and Sedum dasyphyllum in the lower center. The container requires well-drained soil. I make my own container soil using pine park fines, grit, peat, perlite and Turface. Sounds like a lot of work but it works great, for this and just about any container garden.”