Last week there was no post so I’m doing two this week. Why was I so busy?
Well, it was a combination of working and meeting a lot of new people. I had to be alert and aware. (Usually I just get into the groove and start making more plants.)
We had a tour through the American Public Gardens Association 2022 Conference , a green-carpet party for a botanical garden project, oh, and then there was this massive crevice garden installation. I did nothing but chat with the builders, but we had some great conversations and all three are people I’ve wanted to meet so it was a lot all at once!
Two of the builders were Kenton Seth and Paul Spriggs. They’re co-authors of the hot new book The Crevice Garden: How to make the perfect home for plants from rocky places. While I’ve followed Paul a bit online since he’s in British Columbia BC (yes, it’s part of the PNW too), I had not yet met him or Kenton.
Kenton and I have a mutual friend in Panayoti Kelaidis, and when I visited Denver last year I was escorted by Panayoti to see one of Kenton’s great builds.
So in a sense, I’d done my homework before they arrived, but I was nervous. Rock gardens, alpine gardens, and crevice gardens all kind of make me nervous, but of course we hit it off. Besides, Baldassare Mineo, my good friend, is also a hero of theirs. I can’t imagine the connection. (Wink, wink.) Yes, he wrote a book that inspired both of them. Surprise! Surprise!
At heart, I’m one of their people, but sadly, my body has kept me from building anything. Luckily I have troughs for my plants, but after last week, I will try harder.
Luckily I was able to purchase a copy of their book during their visit and I highly recommend that you do so as well. You can pre-order the book here—or wherever you chose to purchase your books online.
It is a great book and you will not regret it!!!
The third builder was Jeremy Schmidt, but in a way, he was the first. I cannot remember how it all began, but he was involved, and clearly Sean Hogan was too since it’s at Cistus Nursery. Jeremy built and maintains the largest crevice garden in the world (as Kenton called it) that he’s been in charge of at Plant Delights Nursery for some time now.
I’ve not yet seen it, but am happy that I’ll be visiting there soon. Hopefully after that visit I’ll have more to say about the space. There is much for me to learn in North Carolina, and I look forward to that.
Jeremy, like the other two, is an amazing guy. Like Kenton and Paul, I wish he lived closer, but we’ll all stay in touch now. It was an honor to have met them. We had some great conversations and they left me thinking about so many things. I love it when I have my mind tickled like that.
It’s one thing to make one new friend at an event with plant peeps, but to say I made three new friends is an understatement. Last week really was an amazing learning experience and plant cultural exchange.
This is a funny realization but the crevice garden touches me to my green core. I came into my being, into my “self” in a rockery. My first memories are of a rockery. Mom built a huge one, and while it wasn’t filled with rockery and alpine plants, I somehow figured out as a child what it was intended to be, what its potential was, and in my mind, I redesigned and planted it in my mind as a girl.
It’s kind of funny no one thought to show me around the plant world more, but I did NOT have helicopter parents. Luckily I was allowed to be a feral child so I figured a lot out and when I was 14 I announced one night that I wanted to go backpacking to climb a mountain. I’m not sure how we found the program that helped me to do this, but by the time I was 18, I’d already done quite a bit of hiking and backpacking. It’s how I learned about plants in the wild (at least here) and I observed their growing conditions—as one does.
Since I wasn’t allowed to garden at home much as a kid, and my curiosity ran deep into ecology and plant systems, I’ve been paying attention to how and where plants grow for decades. To masterfully achieve a crevice garden, this kind of observation is key.
I would not complain at all to have a giant crevice garden at home, but as Kenton told me, “We’re building you a Cadillac. You get to be one of the people who drives it.”
As a propagator at the nursery, it will be an honor to get to know the plants better. And as for the Cadillac, I bet Kenton says that to all of us old plant ladies.
When I started college I studied biology and I’d planned to keep climbing mountains. My body began to betray me. While I wanted to be outdoors in the wilderness doing studies, my body, heart and mind struggled.
The last mountain I hiked up was Mt. St. Helen’s and it’s also when my swelling disease flared up for the first time.
And yet, it took about 8 more years before I found out why the backs of my legs had turned purple that day and my blood vessels had behaved badly.
I know now, but the trauma of illness and the PTSD I still live with of having failed at a goal that would have led me down a different path makes me deeply sad. I still can’t hike well, and after going uphill a bit during the past weekend while hiking with the gang, I had pain and swelling that worried me this week, but I want to keep pushing myself to see if I can do more.
This crevice garden will be a reminder to me—and others—of escapes to other environs. Different continents are represented and Sean will have many of his collections mixed in once he’s finished planting it up.
I can look at the plants from far-flung locations and feel transported again away from here. Even if I didn’t collect the plants, I will learn more about where they came from and I will appreciate how they survive. This will help us to provide pertinent growing information too.
I’ve not participated in NARGS a lot since I’m pretty tapped out when it comes to free time and plant societies, but I will keep going with my plant propagation and will order seeds from them. NARGS rocks lol and if you’re interested in all of this, I suggest looking for a chapter in operation near you. Plant societies are important repositories of information and are a wonderful way to become more involved in the plant world if you’re lucky enough to do something else for a living in order to support yourself and pay the bills. If you can, give back to the world and volunteer.
I recommend that you be inspired by all of this too.
Learn about how to better plant those nooks and crannies in your life.
But most importantly, buy the book and learn more about NARGS and the many pleasures of dabbling in a different plant palette.
And best of all, ROCK ON!!!
7 thoughts on “The New Crevice Garden at Cistus Nursery”
This will look fantastic when it’s all planted up. I have two neighbours with fantastic crevice gardens. Love to go and visit them and see the many treasures ensconced amongst the rocks. Look forward to updates on Cistus’ garden.
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How cool! I wonder if Paul had anything to do with them. I know he’s quite the builder up there in Canada.
I’m so glad you wrote this post. I’d seen a few photos of the installation that Sean had posted on FB, but he hadn’t shared a lot of details. I got Paul and Kenton’s book when I was in Germany this summer (for some reason, I was published in England MONTHS ago) and love it.
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The entire week was quite an experience for me. It will take me a long time to unpack it all, but overall, what mattered so much to me was meeting peers. I love the book. I gave my first copy to Pat today at work. I had them personalize a copy for me and I’ll cherish it always.
Wow, what an adventure! Seeing the crevice garden emerge and meeting the artisans creating it…and of course, Felix snoopervsing!
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The crevice garden process looks very intense, but the builders must be close allies! I look forward to watching this one develop with plants. As interesting is your account of not being allowed to garden at home growing up (I got to), then how your interests developed in nature / horticulture to merge them into one. Even redesigning your mother’s rockery in your head!
Glad to see Felix in charge, even if He was disappointed few plants of Egyptian royalty will work there.
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I enjoyed watching the three build together. It was quite a great lesson in how it’s done. Can’t wait to watch it all progress too. Again, what a gift to have something like this to study.
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