An alpine trough is the kindest, nicest thing you can give to yourself (or anyone else) for a present. It’s a simple way of having fun with plants and it’s low maintenance, and fits on a tabletop - no garden required.
I made this trough up this time last year and it has brought me SO much joy.
A wide shallow container, or a proper alpine trough like this tiny stone one
Some broken pieces of terracotta or pebbles or old polystyrene blocks for drainage
Some broken pieces of terracotta or slate, or some shard-like stones. Think SCREE.
Some peat-free multi-purpose compost
Some horticultural grit
Some alpine plants. Mine were: Armeria, Sedum, Veronica and Erysimum. Bought at the garden centre and wrestled from their plastic which I left ceremoniously at the counter.
Some sempervivums (house-leeks) to fill in any gaps
Mix the compost about two thirds compost and one third grit.
Keep thinking about your mountainside and how craggy and free-draining it is. Add your drainage to the bottom of your container
Fill the container with the gritty compost and push in some craggy bits of terracotta or slate - get them facing the same way. Use this for inspiration!
Now squish in your plants randomly, hugging your shards of pottery slightly, and spilling over the sides a bit.
Now add some sempervivums. If you’re buying them new, then make sure there’s a hen and some chicks (little baby sempervivums attached to their mother) You can detach these and plant them separately - burying the ‘umbilical cord’ gently in the compost and leaving the rosettes proud of the soil. Space them evenly around, so they can creep slowly and fill in the gaps.
Water the pot and finally top-dress it with small horticultural grit or gravel. This will keep the crown of each plant dry and prevent it rotting.
If needs be, gently pull the plant upwards so that the gravel gets right in around each rosette and crown.
Hope you have fun making this - do tag me in any photos on your socials so I can share your beautiful work!