Joy Creek dry gardening seminar

On the second day, Hortlandia lost out to Maurice Horn’s presentation. Most Sundays, Joy Creek Nursery offers a seminar. This one held special interest for me, as I have been trying to phase out the need to drag hoses about during the dry summer months.

Joy Creek seminar tent

The canopy protects the audience from rainfall, or, in this case (wonder of wonders), sunshine.

dry garden plants

A table plus a cart were loaded with plants to illustrate points being made.

handouts on clip boards

These guys seemingly think of everything: handouts come on individual clipboards, complete with a sharpened pencil for note-taking. I, for one, was scribbling furiously. Maurice has been pressed into service to deal with some staggering planting problems, and he used them to walk us through a process that will end in success under almost any circumstances. The formula, in a nutshell: use a mixture of 1/4″ ten gravel mixed with organic material for planting; mulch with more of the same gravel. Mulching with gravel allows bringing the mulch right up to the plant, where organic mulches will cause rot if there isn’t breathing room. I had been using pea gravel because I like the look, but I am now convinced that the 1/4″ ten is superior in every way. Where pea gravel tends to roll and gets kicked around, this stuff stays put. Just make sure you get the washed kind so that sediment does not rise to the surface and form a crust.

Cistus ‘Blanche’

I arrived early to stroll through the display gardens, and even had time to latch on to this Cistus ‘Blanche’.

more Cistus ‘Blanche’

It is marginally hearty here, so it is going in a pot with Heuchera ‘Caramel’ at its feet. I love those wavy leaves and the coloration of leaf and stem. The blooms will be white, so I can live with those, too.

Artemesia versicolor

We dove for the demonstration plants (politely, of course) and I came up with Artemesia versicolor, which has been on my list for some time.

Zauschneria garetti

Zauschneria garetti is supposed to form a mat through which early bulbs will grow and then produce red-orange flowers of its own later on. I’ll let you know how that works out.

Eryngium borgattii

Continuing my love affair with Eryngiums, this one is borgattii.

Ceanothus gloriosys ‘Heart’s Desire’

Sprawling forms of Ceanothus sound like the perfect ground cover for the evergreen border, so I am giving C. gloriosus ‘Heart’s Desire’ a try.

Sedum ‘Stardust’

Everything the least bit fleshy that goes into my dry berm seems to get nibbled. I must figure out a way to protect Sedum ‘Stardust’, because that is the perfect spot for it, and I will cry if it meets the same fate as the poor Opuntia. Any ideas?

The best and most mature of Horn’s dry gardens is the Reed College Hell Strip. To see another of his efforts and get in on the early stages of a demanding project, go to the rest stop on the west side of I-5 near Aurora. Now I must be off to procure me some gravel.

9 Responses to “Joy Creek dry gardening seminar”

  1. linda Says:

    i’ll have to get over to JC for a few of those classes. That ‘Blanche’ is a beauty, not hardy …hmmn, tempting.

  2. Loree /danger garden Says:

    Thanks for the reminder, I need to study up on the classes they’re offering before it’s too late!

    (I just bought that Eryngium too!)

  3. ricki Says:

    Linda~Let me know when you decide to head out this way. JC is only a short jaunt for me.

    Loree~Ditto answer to Linda. And why am I not surprised you have E.borgattii?

  4. Grace Says:

    Yes this would indeed be a fun trip and rival a visit to Hortlandia. My fingers are crossed that all your plants survive and thrive.

  5. ricki Says:

    Grace~Mine too…double crossed fingers: that should work!

  6. Janet, The Queen of Seaford Says:

    Love that Artemesia! Looks like it was an interesting day.

  7. ricki Says:

    Janet~I had one once before, and loved the look of seafoam spilling over rocks. Hope this one will be as successful.

  8. andrea Says:

    Hi there! That looks like a great class. I would love to take a class from Maurice sometime. I bet he is very informative. Love the Cistus Blanch too. I”m not familiar with it but like the wavy leaves and color. Interesting about the 1/4 ten gravel…what type of organic material do you mix with it? Do you mulch all of your beds with it? I am in a situation at my home where I am slowly removing all of the 3/4minus (guess) gravel the builder put in as mulch. It is popular here and people call it permabark but as a gardener I despise it. In this area, I don’t think it is good for a number of reasons but one of them being the summers are so hot and dry and the rock mulch seems to make the environment even hotter! Gardening is a journey of learning tho!

  9. ricki Says:

    Andrea~Nice to see you here. I only have one bed mulched with gravel so far. My planting mix consists of one third garden soil, one third dark hemlock mulch and one third gravel. Up to now I have mulched mostly with the hemlock and have been happy with it, so time will tell how far I will go with this gravel thing.

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