Last year Sophie was fortunate enough to attend the inspirational ‘Urban Growth’ conference in Sweden hosted by Julia Andersson and Peter Korn. Peter gave a talk on his method of gardening which involves planting into pure sand; so this Spring she decided to spend two weeks with him at their garden in Klinta, Sweden, to learn more about it.
She spent the first week working closely with Peter, Margaret (a student from the US) and Peter’s employee Jonathan at Klinta. Peter plants directly into 20cm of a particular grade of sand above the soil, and treats all of his plants this way; from bulbs that require summer heat such as Tulipa vivadensis, to herbaceous perennials that prefer moist soils such as Eupatorium maculatum.
The benefits of Peter’s method are that weeds are largely unable to establish in the dry upper layer of the sand and for the same reason pests were also uncommon. The structure of the sand meant that it stays nicely damp and cool for the plant roots, so watering isn’t required as often.
She spent most of the second week installing public plantings with Peter. This was a great experience as she is interested in greening urban areas. Peter’s method suited this situation brilliantly; maintenance staff reported that his plantings required very little maintenance, an imperative in the often funding-deprived public sector.
What she found most inspirational about this experience was Peter’s deep understanding of a wide variety of plants, and his careful observations on how they grow in nature. She became familiar with an enormous range of new plants in detail, which was enriched by Peter’s teaching on the climatic conditions that they preferred. She would thoroughly recommend this experience to other horticulturalists who would like to gain a deeper understanding of plants.