Plants for Garden Walls – the good the bad and the ugly

There is vegetation that strikes at a waller’s heart, that will tear down even a well built wall over time, working with wind, rain and frost. This is the Vegetation Blacklist of Walls.

A lot of wallers like to see a clean wall as a thing of beauty, unsullied by plants of any kind, tightly fitting stones squeezing out all life. However this is a dead wall and to me strikes against the philosophy of the ecologically friendly living wall.

The living wall encourages growth of ‘wall friendly’ plants, of nooks for insects to hide, for animals to hide and birds to nest. Robins, gold crests, wrens even varieties of tit will nest in a well constructed living wall. Masonry and solitary bees should be welcome. Frogs, toads, newts and lizards love to hibernate in a wall. In my book all should be welcome and the waller should allow space for them when constructing a wall.

The Bad and the Ugly – Budleia, Red Valerian, Bramble, Ivy


The Good
Babies Tears
A great asset when cover is needed as Babies Tears will grow in lovely green cushions between the cracks. A perennial, once established Babies Tears will run and run! Likes it damp and tolerates shade well. This is self propagating.
Babies tears
Sometimes confused with the hair bell is common in gardens all over Cardiff and South Wales. It is a pretty flower, self propogating and with a light root system. It likes some moisture but will tolerate dry periods, sometimes looking wilted but usually recovering with a rain or some water.
Some say sweet smelling – some cloying. A pretty simple daisy-like flower on a succulent green foliage can be grown from seed or by splitting existing plants. Plant beside the wall as although very hardy once established it does need a soil base.
Creeping thyme – thymes
Creeping thyme is a small low growing perrenial which once established will provide a pretty pink flowered scented mat across the top of a wall, between copers. In my experience it needs a sunny position to establish and quite likes it hot. West Wales and coastal areas work well although we have it in our Cardiff Garden
Hardy Houseleeks
Houseleeks sound Welsh somehow – An attractive succulent is very hardy and once established will produce a matt of rose shaped leaves. Sometimes known as hens and chicks the Hens may be up to a couple of inches across while the chicks are as little as half and inch
Houseleek - free picture
Houseleek – Hen and Chicks
A fern-like plant propogated by spores common across South Wales, this makes a pretty, rather dainty addition to the cracks in a shady wall. Willtolerate dry conditions.
Various sedums grow well in walls being particularly tolerant of dry and hot. Perennial and attractive to bees some care should be taken when acquiring a particular type as they can be quite tall, up to a foot in height.
Thrifts also known as Sea Pinks are often seen by the sea with pretty clover-like flowers and delicate spiky leaves. Sold for rock gardens, there are lots of varieties.
Pink Thrift - free picture
Thrifts – Sea Pink
Mosses and Lichens
Many types of mosses love a shady wall and can make a really beautiful addition. Mosses are perennial and will gradually cover a wall. Mosses enjoy damp but will also survive dry periods. Ask a friend or a friendly farmer if you can have a little piece of moss from a wall and then just push it into a shady spot.
Cwmogwr Forest Wall, area of special scientific interest – mosses and lichens