Crevice Garden

The 300’ long crevice garden is our redneck take on a gardening style developed in the Czech Republic, where rocks were placed close together, and stacked vertically, to create narrow crevices, which mimic those found in the uplifts of the Earth’s crust, caused by plate tectonic collisions. Instead of using rocks, we selected recycled concrete from deconstruction here on the property for our construction material.

Located at the east end of Michelle’s Garden, the Crevice Garden parallels the vehicular exit drive. The first two sections at the north end, are the oldest, finished in 2017. Instead of planting in soil, plants here are grown in pure PermaTill, a pumice-like, popped slate material, mined in Salisbury, NC. The pH is just over 8.0, so we chose plants that love or tolerate alkaline soils. We focused on plants from dry areas of the Balkans, the Middle East, Mediterranean Europe, South America, South Africa, and the Southwest and Pacific Northwest regions of the US.

North section of the Crevice garden constructed in 2017
North section of the Crevice garden constructed in 2017
Crevice garden south section towards north
Crevice garden south section towards north

Game changer in diversity

These first sections are filled with an array of agaves and cactus, many of which are derived from our own breeding program. In between those are an array of Arilbred iris, which are considered ungrowable in the hot, humid Southeast US. Other plants like the drought-requiring Alloberberis trifoliata (Silver Barberry) thrive here, and the virtually ungrowable Texas native Penstemon baccharifolius (Rock Beardtongue) also are right at home.  In one small section, plants are planted in pure Dolomitic Lime, right out of the bag – one of our more interesting experiments. This crevice garden area almost never receives any supplemental irrigation.

The second section to the south, across the service drive, is also planted in pure PermaTill. This section contains a constructed alkaline seep, which allows us to grow plants, which thrive in those conditions. The large staff-assembled stump, which appears to have died in place, is planted with a specimen of Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Hariyama’ (Tea Olive) to carry through the dry windswept look that we sought to present with the crevice design.  

Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Hariyama’ planted in a stump
Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Hariyama’ planted in a stump

Concrete flow

In this section, you’ll notice how the concrete was “bent” by adjusting the spacing between each piece, to add movement to a material typically thought to be rigid. At the south end of this section before the walkway breaks through to traverse visitors back into Michelle’s Garden, is one of our largest century plant creations, Agave x pseudoferox ‘Supersize’. Our goal was to see how large a winter hardy agave we could create. Along the way, you’ll notice several South African natives including the hardy Aloe cooperi and the fascinating geophyte, Ammocharis coranica (Flat False Crinum), and if you peek under the crevice overhangs, you’ll notice several patches of African Lithops (Living Stones).

The final crevice section on the south end was completed in 2019. Here, instead of using straight Permatill, plants in this section are grown in the same 50%/25%/25% mix, that’s used in the parking lot dryland beds. This section also included several more seeps, where special ferns reside, that need these conditions.

Unique habitat

Atop the crevice is a patch of the amazing Himalayan native fern, Onychium japonicum ‘Filigreen’ (Cat’s claw fern), that cloaks the base of the hardy Sabal palmetto ‘Mt. Holly’. Further down the last crevice section, there are an array of hardy cyclamen, peeking out from between the rocks. A number of dryland ferns, which naturally live with cactus, also reside in this section. Antennaria (Pussy Toes), Origanum (Oregano), Daphne (Daphne), a plethora of our hybrid agaves, and a huge array of one-of-a-kind specimens help fill the remainder of the space. 

We hope the Crevice Garden serves as an inspiration of what’s possible. We’d love to see gardeners interested in dryland gardens, explore the option of using waste materials instead of sending so many re-usable items to American landfills.

Ready to visit?

We are open to the public 8 weekends of the year during our Open Garden and Nursery Days.
Can’t wait? We are open by appointment during regular business hours.

Last but not least

Anita’s Garden is a beautiful display garden that differs from the others by focusing on aesthetic group plantings rather than “plantings of one.” It is a private garden of Tony and Anita Avent that opens its gates only once a year for the JLBG endowment fundraiser in summer.

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