Rock Gardens - A Different Kind of Garden
Planting a Rock Garden is a great alternative to the normal flower and vegetable garden.
Where Should This Garden Go:
Typically an ideal spot for a rock garden is on a slope or naturally terraced area with rock formations already in place.
However nature has not blessed every home with this perfect set up which means you will need to create an area from scratch using topsoil and rocks. This can be done most anywhere you choose against a wall or fence, along the house or back of a garage - this is where I had one of my rock gardens - having one within an existing garden would also look quite nice.
How Big Should It Be:
This decision of course is going to be entirely up to you taking into consideration how much time you have and how much space you have to work with.
You may have seen pictures in magazines of very elaborate looking rock gardens with waterfalls or streams running through them and paths made up of large flat rock for walking.
However, small, simply designed gardens look just as good and in the long run for many of use will work out better.
This is especially true if you are making one from scratch, you need to consider the amount of time needed to build it and the cost factor as you'll be needing topsoil, rocks and plants. Remember the old saying we all head growing up "Your eyes are bigger than your stomach" well it applies here as well, start small and build up over time.
I've had rock gardens at two different homes both had to be started from scratch and both started out small. The first started small mainly because I'd never done one before, in fact it didn't start out to be a rock garden at all. It started as a flower garden right behind the garage, but the discovery of some Hens & Chicks at a local nursery changed everything. Which now leads to the next section, plants.
What Plants To Use
This type of garden is a little different from what you may normally be accustomed to - large plants with brightly colored blooms. Here you want plants that are relatively small, there are many low growing perennials available. And don't get to caught up in whether the plants has flowers or not, what your looking for is something to enhance and complement the rock clusters you've put together.
Also don't limit your choices to just plants, small dwarf evergreen shrubs can also be used and will add another texture to the garden. In fact is space permits add a few larger shrubs to the back of the garden, which works as a backdrop to really put the rock garden in the spot light.
Examples of Plants & Shrubs:
· Creeping Myrtle - green leaves with violet blue spring flowers
· Hens & Chicks - many varieties of color and texture
· Sedum - creeping in gold or red
· Phlox - creeping in pink, red, blue and white
· Dwarf Mugho Pine
· Birds Nest Spruce
Maintaining A Rock Garden:
Routine care like with any garden is needed. Cutting back leggy plants, dead heading any flowering plants, removal of any dead stems and dividing any plants that have become to big. Also like with all gardens water when necessary and feed occasionally. Putting down a thick layer of mulch will help during the hot summer to keep moisture where it belongs around the plants roots; this is also beneficial if you live in an area where winters are harsh.
To Add Decorative Accents or Not - Here's a Good Question:
Many articles and experienced gardeners will more than likely tell you that the addition of decorative accents is not necessary as the simple lines of plants and rocks is the decorative element. I on the other hand disagree, to me adding a little something like a small figurine, a mini birdbath or a tiny wind chime hanging from a miniature Shepard's hook only add to the beauty of the garden.
However as with indoor decorating, a garden whether it is rock, flower or vegetable should express and represent the creative side to each individual gardener, so if you like the way something looks go ahead and use it.
Give Rock Gardening a try. Happy Gardening
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Bonnie P. Carrier is the creator of Savvy Home Decorating & Savvy Outdoor Decorating. She is the mother to two grown daughters and a very spoiled 4yr old Blue Merle Sheltie named Toby. Stop by for information and ideas for both inside and outside your home.