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Rock Gardens

Do you wish you could grow all kinds of flowers, but your garden is the size of a pool table? Or if your lot is large, does it look like all of the others on your street? Whatever the size, is it full of rocks like many parts of our state? Then, welcome to Rock Gardening!

What do ‘rock plants’ look like?

Rock plants are simply those slow-growing plants of relatively small stature that are suitable in scale for growing in rock gardens. They include dwarf trees and shrubs, which are particularly useful for framework or background plantings. Most are under one foot in height, and form tight carets, buns or rosettes of foliage that are covered with flowers in season. Because rock garden plants are usually perennial, they grow larger each year. Rocks are not always necessary for the easier plants. However, rocks shelter delicate plants from too much sun, and help keep their roots cool.

Where is a good place for a Rock Garden?

Choose a site that can be easily viewed and cared for, in a place that gets rain and is also within reach of a hose. A rock garden in full to half sun can grow the widest variety of plants, but there are many wonderful rock plants that prefer shade. A garden will fit in best if it forms a connection with a background – evergreens, shrubs, fence, pond, etc.

Do these plants need special soil?

Many of the easier rock plants will do well in a wide range of soils and you will want to start with them. Later on, you may want to make a horne for some more unusual plants. As with all plants, suitable soil is necessary for your rock garden. A well-drained, but moisture retentive soil will satisfy almost all plants. You need to have approximately 18″ of developed soil to host the long roots of rock plants.

How do you use rocks?

Native rocks harmonize with gardens better than exotic ones. Sink rocks deeply into the soil so they are stable and look natural. Stratified limestone can be used to create terraces and ledges on slopes. Choose all sizes of rocks. Arrange them in masses or groups.

What is the next step in construction?

After preparing your soil, it can be shaped into hollows and gentle mounds. To raise the level of the garden, extra soil can be prepared or you may use fill, made of discarded rocks, bricks, etc. A little height puts the plants “on stage” where they can be more easily appreciated.

What is the best way to plant for low maintenance?

Be sure to keep newly plants watered, especially during dry spells. A mulch of stone chips or gravel in a sunny rock garden or chopped dry leaves in a shady garden not only discourages weeds, but keeps the soil cool and moist. If your garden abuts the lawn, use a heavy permanent edging to exclude grass.

EASY ROCK GARDEN PLANTS FOR THE SOUTHEAST:

  • Arabis ferdnandi-coburgi ‘Variegata’ – variegated Rockcress
  • Anneria maritime – Sea Pink
  • Crocus, wild species
  • Dianthus, perennial types
  • Geranium, perennial (spreads)
  • lberis Sempervirens -Little Gem Candytuft
  • Phlox, creeping kinds
  • Potentilla
  • Santolina
  • Sedum
  • Sempervivum -Hens and Chickens
  • Sisichrynchium -Blue-Eyed Grass
  • Thyme
  • Veronica, dwarf species
  • Dwarf conifers and dwarf shrubs

1 comment to Rock Gardens

  • slwencel

    Hey! I’ll be the first to comment!

    I’m adding rocks that I’ve found (indigenous sedimentary and metamorphic) to my “pimple” garden in the front lawn. Mostly, I’m using them to stop the squirrels from digging around where I planted my Reflection Riding shrubs and perennials. Eventually, like a zen garden master, I will place them in a more feng shui manner.

    Unfortunately, I rarely see rock gardens in my area (Hixson) and think they are way underused. Most of my neighbors have “Port and Starboard” gardens, i.e., highly linear with alternating annuals like red and white petunias. Sigh.