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Plants that fill the cracks and crevices and bring life and colour to paving

WALK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE: Plants that fill the cracks and crevices bring life and colour to paving

  • Nigel Colborn says that plants for cracks and crevices are durable
  • UK-based expert says that they can bring a hint of beauty to dreary places
  • He says that paving with 3cm or more between slabs has planting opportunities 

What you need here,’ said my visitor, ‘is Platt’s Black.’ He was viewing a recently paved area in our garden. The flagstones, though attractively weathered, still looked stark. Did he mean I should paint them? Seriously? ‘I’ll be planting between the pavers,’ I explained.

‘That’s why we’ve left two-inch spaces between them.’ The gaps had been filled with good soil. ‘Yeah, like I said,’ he retorted, ‘Platt’s Black would fill the cracks.’ Leptinella squalida or ‘brass buttons’ is a pretty little creeper with serrated, compound leaves. The variety Platt’s Black has dark foliage and cream, button-like flowers. 

The matted growth functions as living mortar, filling spaces between the flagstones. Plants for cracks and crevices are seldom show-­stoppers, but they’re durable and bring a hint of beauty to dreary places.

Nigel Colborn says that plants for cracks and crevices are seldom show-stoppers but using them can bring a hint of beauty to dreary places. Wild thyme Thymus serpyllum (pictured)

NICHE PLANTING 

Paving with 3cm or more between slabs has planting opportunities. Dry-stone walls have natural crevices suitable for drought-tolerant plants. Even dry banks and retaining walls are suitable for niche planting.

 If chosen carefully, the plants will flourish without harming the structure. 

Besides Leptinella, plants suitable for paving cracks include wild thyme Thymus serpyllum, blue-flowered Isotoma axillaris and, on less-trodden areas, even chamomile. A small lady’s mantle, Alchemilla alpina, loves to colonise paving gaps.

Sedums love growing on walls, as well as in paving or gravel. I grow native, yellow-flowered Biting Stonecrop, Sedum acre. White-flowered Sedum album is even prettier. Exotic succulents such as houseleeks are also suitable.

On shaded walls, small ferns such as Rustyback (­Asplenium ceterach) and Maidenhair Spleenwort (A. trichomanes) will also thrive. 

Larger ferns can root in damp walls. Ivy- leaved Toadflax ,Cymbalaria muralis, loves growing in walls. The purple-blue flowers go beautifully with the neatly lobed leaves. 

UK-based expert says that plants in paving, on walls or naturalised in gravel need minimal care. Platt¿s Black creeper (pictured)

UK-based expert says that plants in paving, on walls or naturalised in gravel need minimal care. Platt’s Black creeper (pictured)

SELF-SEEDERS 

Plants in paving, on walls or naturalised in gravel need minimal care. Most will spread or self-seed. All you need do is monitor that spread. 

Little plants for paving cracks also thrive on walls. More bulky perennials such as red valerian, Centranthus ruber, are ubiquitous. 

Their windborne seed spreads. When planting up gravel, I include small bulbs such as botanical crocuses. Scillas and Chionodoxa will multiply.

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