Here at the JC Raulston Arboretum we're always looking for new ways to display, grow, and enjoy plants. Thanks to a recent grant from the North American Rock Garden Society, we were able to commission 11 large troughs from Lasting Impressions to better grow and show off some new plants. The hypertufa troughs are about 30" by 18" and 12" deep giving us plenty of room for some great plants.
Troughs are a traditional containers for growing alpine plants and creating miniature gardens. They were originally made from stone but as these became harder and harder to find, hypertufa or false stone troughs have taken center stage. Hypertufa is a combination of Portland cement, perlite, and peat among other ingredients - I've compiled at least 5 different recipes from various experts. These troughs are relatively lightweight but very sturdy and are a lovely way to display tiny plants.
And do we have plants! Some choice selections from Plant Delights Nursery and a slew of things to try down in the lowlands from the heights of Denver Botanic Garden (thanks Panayoti Kelaidis and Mike Kintgen) along with some items we've been growing in our nursery supplied us with more than enough options. We've planted dwarf conifers, sun ferns, tiny daphne, small bulbs and cascading perennials in most of the containers along with a bog trough (still in the works as I write) in sunny exposure on the rooftop. A couple of shade troughs will find a home under our signature Lagerstroemia fauriei near the Pedestrian Entrance.
Our summer interns had the opportunity to get creative with the plants and stones under the expert eyes of Tim and Lizzi and the results speak for themselves. The fun creations will provide a bit of interest to southerners who may not be familiar with trough gardening. The creations, although decorative will also give us a chance to evaluate how these plants perform in this specialized environment. Look for more blogs detailing how the troughs are fairing as summer progresses.
The Piedmont Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society is taking a hiatus over the summer but the monthly meetings will start back up in the fall at the JCRA. Make sure to join them on the 3rd Saturday of the month for some great lectures.