Rock gardens add another dimension to your garden and to look good require a little imagination on your part. Ideally rock gardens look best on a natural slope or a natural outcrop of rocks but we are not all so lucky to have this on our property. Usually we have to create this illusion by ourselves and the more natural you can make it the better. It sometimes helps to work in a rock garden along side a small pond for a more natural effect.
Most plants suitable for rock gardens are sun lovers and will require a site that receives at least 6 hours of sun per day. Rock garden plants are often referred to as alpines, and there is a wonderful selection to choose from which lends itself to plant collecting. Rock gardens also allows for a wide range of plants in a small space. Actually, alpines can become a bit addictive.
Once you have your rocks planned out add a soil mixture of equal parts soil, course grit and peat. Alpines require a well draining soil. After planting your chosen plants spread a light layer of gravel or small stones on top of the soil to show off the plants.
The best plants for your rock garden are smaller plants that don’t spread too fast. A fast crawler will take over the entire garden in a very short time. After plants have finished flowering it’s wise to trim off the spent blooms and tidy up the plant for the remainder of the season. I recommend you not let plants go to seed as picking the seedlings out of the gravel is rather tedious.
List of suitable rock garden plants. Most are available from local nurseries and others from on-line alpine growers.
Plants for Rock Gardens:
Achillea ageratifolia (Greek Yarrow)
Arabis caucasica (Rock Cress)
Antennaria ( Pussy-toes)
Bulbs – miniatures
Iris – dwarfs
Dryas octopetala (Mountain Avens)
Gentiana sino-ornata ‘Kingfisher’
Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft)
Penstemon pinifolius (Pineleaf Beard-tongue)
Helianthemum (Rock Rose)
Dwarf Cranesbell ‘Apple Blossom’
Acaena (New Zealand burr)
Thymus praecox ‘Elfin’
This post can also be viewed as a VIDEO: Sensible Gardening Youtube Channel