The increasing use of stone troughs and sinks as containers for growing plants has made it possible to create most effective miniature gardens. Old stone sinks are no longer easy to find, especially in the southern part of the British Isles, but an old wash basin or concrete container makes a very good alternative.
One of the most important things to consider is, particularly in a town garden where the trough is likely to be situated under a tree. For full details of drainage and for a sink garden see Rock Garden Construction.
Planning and planting the sink garden is primarily a matter of taste, but the best foundation is a miniature rocky landscape with the semblance of an alpine meadow or a scree, broken at intervals by rocks and tiny trees such as the pygmy Scots pine, or a dwarf cypress or juniper.
A few spreading plants on the upper levels will give the miniature landscape a windswept appearance, while one or two trailing plants at the edge of the sink will enhance the proportion and soften any hard lines.
The contours of the sink garden, and indeed its whole appearance, can be changed at will, simply by moving a few stones. To maintain a natural effect be sure to use stones of proportionate size and of the same kind. If the strata show in the stones make sure they all run in the same direction.
A whole range of alpines is available for use in the sink garden, though it is advisable to master the easier ones first, for this is a specialized form of alpine gardening which requires skill and careful attention.
EASY ALPINES FOR THE SINK GARDEN
Aethionema Warley Rose, rose-red, June.
Androsace sempervivoides, deep pink, May.
Arenaria purpurascens, purplish, June and July.
Armeria caespitosa, rose-red, April onward.
Campanula cochleariifolia (syn. C.pusilla), blue or white, June to August.
C. pulla, violet-blue, June.
Dianthus microlepis, pink or white, June and July.
Draba aizoon, yellow, April.
Erigeron unijlorus, white or purple, July and August.
Erodium chamaedryoides roseum, deep pink, July to September.
Helianthemum, wide variety, May onward.
reptans, golden-yellow, tinged red, August to October.
Iberis saxatilis, white, tinged purple, May to July.
Linaria alpina, lavender and gold, July to September.
Linum salsoloides nanum, white, tinged pink, June and July.
Morisia monantha, gold, May.
Penstemon roezlii, pale or dark blue, July.
Potentilla verna nana, yellow, May and June.
Raoulia australis, pale yellow, July.
Rosa Oakington Ruby, ruby-crimson, June to September.
R. Roulettii, rose-pink, June to September.
Saxifraga irvingii, pale lilac-pink, April.
S. oppositifolia, rose-red, March and April.
Sedum, white, yellow or red, June to September.
Thymus serpyllum, purple, white, pink or red, June.
Miniature bulbs may also be grown in a sink garden, including crocus species, miniature narcissus, scilla, dwarf iris, grape hyacinth, and several of the smaller tulip species.