There is a plus side to blogging, I suppose. While blathering nonsense to the ether, I've also wound up with an inadvertent photographic history of the development of some of our trees. Take this European Larch group, for instance. TOH created this planting using a bit of fake slate.
This was part of a blog post which dates back to the summer of 2009. Almost two years later and - wonder of wonders - the roots have stabilised enough that moss has started to grow of its own accord on the surface of the planting.
Which now looks like this:
The slab is faux slate, so actually not all that heavy (not that anyone is carrying this thing around). The soil mixture is akadama, some organics (peat substitute of some description) and Keto to bind it all together. The planting was top-dressed with some chopped sphagnum moss, but the birds made away with all of that almost immediately, and we gave up fighting a losing battle after a couple of seasons. The Larches were some not-very-expensive saplings bought from one of the Bonsai nurserymen at a show, and TOH keeps threatening to add a few younger, thinner ones to get a bit of difference in trunk size (the close similarity of the trunk diameters make the planting look boring and a bit contrived, IMO). I suppose it will happen one day, when we find the right size saplings.
The curious thing about the whole thing is that the group is just sat on top of the slab. There are no drainage or wiring holes. Initially, wire was wrapped around the whole lot to keep the planting from falling apart. Years later and the roots have knitted themselves together, moss has grown naturally and the birds have (fingers and toes crossed) ignored all that freebie nesting material. Or they have decided that our nicer-looking, more mature trees are better objects for vandalism. And gravity just keeps the whole planting sat on top of the slab. Double-click on the photo to enlarge, you will notice the Larch roots sticking out of the bottom edge of the planting, just under the moss. OK, so some of it is dead Larch needles (so what if I didn't tart up before taking the photo; bite me), but most of it is roots that have given up any attempts of encroachment.
Had we been a bit more anal about clearing out the dead needles, I suppose we would have more moss growing in the centre of the group. As it is, I'm quite happy to see that what moss we have is thriving without any assistance on our part. I will occasionally pull out the odd weed, but that is only when my conscience actually wakes up and takes notice of the world around me.
And one can only hope a big, fat pigeon doesn't decide to land on one edge of the slab. Otherwise, boy will it be in for a suprise :D
The first photograph is courtesy of our friend Stef in the Netherlands, to whom BTW I still owe an e-mail along with a few hundred other folks. Join the queue, Stef...