Slate & slate chippings are an excellent material for use in gardens. This metamorphic rock which forms through the alteration of shale by centuries of heat & pressure has been used for decades as a roofing tile on houses. But it’s decorative qualities means that slate & slate chippings make attractive additions to gardens.
Slate is a natural stone which can come in many colours & variations. Slate rock is mostly made up of clay & mica but can also contain feldspar, quartz, calcite and other minerals.
Slate in Ireland
In Ireland Slate bedrock can be found in Wicklow, Wexford & Tipperary
Types of slate in the garden
There are a range of colours most namely Plum Slate, Green Slate, Copper Slate, Red Slate & Black Slate.
The most common form of slate in the garden is slate chippings. As slate is a fragile stone and can easily chip or layer away, chippings is an obvious progression of this stone. Slate chippings can come in sizes from 25 -40mm, 40-70mm and 70-100mm. Each size would be suited to different applications in the garden.
Slate flags & paving stones are also a common material for garden. The natural riven surface of slate makes it suitable for use as a paving material as it provides a good foothold, preventing slips. The most common paving arrangement for slate paving would be a laying in a alternating pattern in keeping with the stones modern & clinical appearance.
Slate again is a great material for dry stone walling. The natural look of slate & the ease at which the stone can be split into narrow and relatively flat slabs of stone means slate can be layered with or without mortar. If you make a dry stone wall over 1m in height then mortar is essential.
Large blocks of slate are superb focal points in gardens. Their character really stands out and contrasts very well with the softer landscaping of shrubs. An upright boulder or ornately cut stone feature would be a great addition to courtyards to walled gardens
Plants & Slate Chippings
Plants that work well with slate & slate chippings would include those with soft & delicate foliage and vibrant green colours. Ferns, Geraniums, Acers, Pulsatilla, Peonies & Alchemilla would be ideal. Other interesting combinations include bluish foliage plants including festuca grasses, lavender, santonlina & Sempervirens.
Different types of slate can be combined, this can look quite well in on a dry river bed in combination with small boulders, ferns, grasses & slate chippings of various sizes.