Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thyme On Our Hands




Evan Oxland doesn't have thyme on his hands, but he does have sedum.. When he isn't traveling through Europe inspecting historic stonework, or at university upgrading his 'history of gardening' knowledge, or pouring over architectural stone or garden design material in books or online, then he is usually building walls with me here in Canada.

Here is a photo of his hands inspecting a sedum mat material that is a product designed and produced by Mathis Natvik of Navik Ecological in Guelph Ontario Canada. It is a perfect alternative finish for the top of a wall instead of using either flat or vertical traditional coping stone. These are mats that come in 1X1 metre squares and weigh 25 KG’s each (depending on water content at the moment).They are pre-grown on the ground and then can be installed anywhere, usually as green roof material, but we are starting to use them as a very nice wall capping material too. Walls with sedum tops look beautiful and soft, as if they have been there for hundreds of years. We topped one of the workshop walls at our festival last year with sedum. It looked great.

Evan and I discovered, by growing/testing various vegetative material, that sedum grows much better on Canadian walls than thyme or sod (sod topping on a wall is know in Scotland as 'turf-top'). Our first attempts proved to us that sedum could last the dryer hotter Canadian summer, though we still have experimental walls with both grass and thyme growing on them, and it is surviving reasonably well.

It is a treat to see plants and dry stone walls skillfully combined in a landscape. On the other 'hand' it is so sad to see a nice use of plant material but lacking any really inspired stonework around it, or the reverse, where the stonework on a property is exceptional but the plantings are glitzy and inappropriate.

What we need are tripple combination 'gardener-designer-wallers'. I am excited for Evan to keep 'thinking' and working in this direction (with his hands, of course)

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