Tiny garden discovered, tiny garden maintained

I've got a lot of different planting beds in my suburban garden: veggie beds, perennial beds, plantings of bamboo, huge ornamental grasses. Many of them are pretty large beds, but I've got some small areas too, like the planting pockets around the stream. My smallest "garden" though has to be the cracks between stones of my flagstone patios. I've never really thought about them as a garden until recently -- they've just been the gaps between the stones before.

Which is a strange oversight on my part, because I've put much effort into making these crevices more than just something to hopefully not trip on. I've planted mosses, thymes, and most recently sedum in the hope of softening and greening up these hard stretches of rock.


I really love the look of green filling these gaps, but it's certainly not simple to keep them that way, at least in our St. Louis climate -- mosses go dormant in the heat of summer without extra effort. Right now the mosses are waking up though, and will be looking their best of the year soon -- they really love the cold temps and late winter moisture.

Since my patio has some decent amounts of moss growing in the cracks, it's a great time to take a closer look. Incidentally, unlike the cracks in the patio under the deck, I didn't plant this moss -- it just grew here on its own. I did plant this tiny sedum though, which has survived but not exactly flourished here yet:

Tiny sedum competing with the moss.

The problem with these cracks, which are filled with a fine crushed limestone gravel, is that a surprisingly large number of plants will happily grow here, and the weeds will quickly take over:

Keep in mind that these gaps are at the very widest 2" (5 cm), and usually about 1" (2.5 cm).

I know that I've had to weed these cracks before, but last year I may have neglected them a bit, especially later in the year.

So these cracks contain a variety of plants that I put there myself, some that grew naturally but I want to keep, and I have to care for them by removing weeds. Sounds like a garden to me! I really don't know why I didn't think of these that way before.

Sedum requieni mixed with some Irish Moss seedlings.

In any case, the only way to weed this area is by hand (fingertip really), and carefully. The roots of the plants will pull out big clumps of the gravel, so you really need a second hand to hold down the "soil" when pulling these.

The majority of the tiny weeds right now are this type. I don't know what it is, but they're pretty easy to pull at this size, and are surprisingly large:

Some of them are too small or embedded too deeply in the moss, so I need to resort to the tweezers:

I prefer using my fingers though, as I get a better feel for how hard to squeeze and pull.

There are other weeds like dandelions here (an obvious sign that I wasn't diligent last year), and for them I use my broken screwdriver to get as much of the root out as I can:

There are a lot of cracks, and some of them are almost entirely weed-filled:

I wish I knew what this weed was. A Veronica maybe?

Even so, it's not too bad a job if you break it up into sections. For instance, today I just spent 15 minutes on a few of the more visible areas of the patio. There are still cracks left to weed, but I'll get to those another day. My weeding strategy is "do it until I get bored". I enjoy pulling weeds for a little while, and by stopping before it feels like a chore it continues being "fun".

A miniature garden, right under my feet.

I never thought I would discover a brand new garden in my yard, but I have, and it's been there for a few years, right under my feet. Perhaps now that I think of it as a garden it will get the care it needs to stay looking its best.

I wonder if the algae growing on my deck is a garden too...

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Donna  – (February 21, 2011 at 8:47 AM)  

isn't it lovely to grow the green things between the stones...I have the same along my pond edge and have to diligently remove weeds...although I never thought of the tweezers...will try it this yr

Christine @ the Gardening Blog  – (February 21, 2011 at 9:22 AM)  

Hi Alan

Like you, I find weeding strangely enjoyable, but I also only do it until I get bored and then carry on another day! I love these little gardens of yours. And I learnt something new from you again today - tweezers going into my gardening tool kit :)

Alan  – (February 21, 2011 at 1:52 PM)  

Getting the weeds out of the moss is about the only thing I can do with tweezers in my garden (except for splinter removal of course). Not much you can do with tweezers around bamboo. =)

JiffyJ  – (February 21, 2011 at 7:00 PM)  

Such pretty weeds! I would love to trade my tumbleweeds for those cute little things!

p3chandan  – (February 22, 2011 at 3:28 AM)  

Never heard of planting seeds in cracks of walls or rocks to make miniature garden! The cracks on my backyard cement always have ruellia tuberose (wild petunia) growing in them, hard to pull but it pretty purple flowers make a fine wild garden too! Im not so fond of weeding in my garden, soo lazy to do it!

Alan  – (February 22, 2011 at 7:23 AM)  

I didn't actually plant seeds, but I did put some small sedum and moss plants in some of the cracks. The Irish Moss "seedlings" are volunteers from somewhere -- as are all of the weeds of course. =)

Nat  – (February 23, 2011 at 2:09 PM)  

I've noticed this before as well. Sometimes the pots at the greenhouse end up more moss then plant, and in these pots a little ecosystem is created. Interesting none the less

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