Creation of a Desert Alpine Garden in Texas

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Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

You certainly have reshaped that garden, Rino! ( - little homesick maybe ;))

Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Title: Guest
Joined: 2009-10-01

Rino, I could be wrong (I like to start out every statement with that disclaimer) but I think that if you use your soil for the core of your berm you should consider finishing it with a layer of concrete sand at least 4" (10 cm) thick on top. That way you'll be planting your small plants into pure sand so their crowns will remain well-drained. I still worry about the soil being too rich, but maybe the local guy knows something I don't. Perhaps all that rain leaches nutrients down faster than I'd expect.
Remember to build your berms higher than looks natural, because they will settle down.

Uxbridge, MA US Zone 6a
Consider that you might be wrong.

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

i think it would be odd too not to have a top dressing over the soil mix (which I can't comment on, having no familiarity with your conditions).  I'd tend towards some sort of millimeters to centimeter size range of gravel or crushed rock, myself.  If there is any topography to the beds, coarser material like that may stay in place better in heavy rains, when water may be running and finding its drainage paths.  Sort of a desert pavement analogy, perhaps.

Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Manfroni's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-06-02

We almost completely finished our garden! The only thing left to do is the completion of the fountain, but that should not take too long. I finally got my crushed limestone as mulch for the berm and bigger limestone gravel for the rest of the front yard!

We even went ahead and started planting the first cactus plants! However, most of these plants are hardy until 20F. Last winter the temperature went down to 14F in February, so I believe I will have to find a way to cover these plants in the winter to protect them from being both cold and wet. I was thinking about clear plastic tubs that I could stick in the ground to create a cloche for each plant... what do you guys think?

Rino, zone 7/8a Dallas TX, rainfall 38 inch or 1 meter per year (highest rainfall in May with 5.29in/134mm, March with 4.34in/110mm and October with 4.21in/107mm), mild winters with 1-2 days of snow (Record low -1F/-18C) and hot, semi-humid summers (Reco

Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

Wow!  I'm not sure any of us really envisioned what the final landscape would be.  Most excellently done, Rino!  Awesome choice of interesting rocks, too.  You should be proud!

What are the two trees planted in the front?

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Manfroni's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-06-02

The two trees planted in the front are Crape Myrtle plants. They have never been watered all throughout the summer going at temperatures higher than 100F for three months in a row, and they still thrived so much that I had to prune them drastically because they were going to obstruct the vision of the house from the street! They bloom all summer long too and there are many different colors.

Rino, zone 7/8a Dallas TX, rainfall 38 inch or 1 meter per year (highest rainfall in May with 5.29in/134mm, March with 4.34in/110mm and October with 4.21in/107mm), mild winters with 1-2 days of snow (Record low -1F/-18C) and hot, semi-humid summers (Reco

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Thanks Rino for taking the time to present to everyone on NARGS Forum the evolution of your special landscape project; I think I too lost some weight re-living the amount of effort and sweat equity put into the awesome project.  I'm sure this topic will inspire others to consider documenting their garden creations and renovation efforts.  And keep us posted as the garden develops and plants mature.  Your location is different than many of us, but the basic ideas and concepts can translate to other climates. 

PS. Love the red crape myrtle, wonderful color.  They are certainly hardy at least to the Mid-Atlantic states, as I see gorgeous specimens when I visit my in-laws in the Baltimore Maryland area.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at

Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-08-20

What an awesome front yard.  It will be fun to see how those plants grow in, very nice. 8)

Dry garden, little irrigation, 9" precip

Shoshone Idaho USA. Zone 5b-6a

Hot and dry in the summer, cold and snow in the winter.


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