Plants – Rock Garden Plants

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Rock Garden Plants
Rock Garden Plants - Guide

Striking rock gardens can be created where ordinary gardening is impossible or small spaces and problematic areas of arid climates. The range of plants suiting these conditions is wide and they mostly require good drainage, ample sunlight and frost protection, but will also benefit from fertile soil and a mulching. Although these plants look great in any gardening situation, the natural affinity of shade-providing rocks adds to aesthetic appeal.

When selecting rocks choose those weathered and aged. These rocks should lie on their heaviest sides and a third of rock should ultimately show above the two thirds of plant foliage.

Construction types

Japanese rock gardens
of perfect balance. These asymmetrical, harmonious theme gardens are based on the perfect proportions of plant- and rock sizes, numbers and placing. The timelessness and solidity of nature is achieved by using rock, pebbles, sand and evergreen foliage plants. The five elements of water, wood, fire, earth and metal are included through chosen objects with added antiquity and emotional associations. Use line and mass in the garden design and concentrate on greenery rather than flowers. Concentrate on achieving a close resemblance of nature in the wild with simplicity as the key.

Terraced rock gardens
are ideal for sloping sites, but also possible for even ground. Start with incorporating gravel and follow with a topsoil layer over the whole area. The rocks should be chosen for size and height to hold the next ‘level’ of soil after being set in the previous ‘level’. Place the first two rocks, one third deep, with an adequate spacing and fill with topsoil (the first rock could be smaller with just enough height to hold the soil). Fill the new section behind the second stone with topsoil and set the third rock into this raised level etc. When finished, fill and firm the soil down behind each rock.

Mound rock gardens
consist of irregular spaced stones and planting pockets, reachable from all sides. It is done on the same principal as terraced rock gardens, but with the highest part in the centre. Start by creating the base first and working up towards planting pockets on the top. Set the rocks to at least one third deep for stability and fill and firm soil down behind rocks. A little topsoil and shade provided by larger stones is beneficial and also ensure adequate space and depth for rooting.

Plants growing in nature with similar climatic and landscape conditions are ideal for rock gardens and need minimum tending. Provide topsoil, mulching and small annual applications of a general fertiliser. Keep weeds down and trim certain plants after flowering. These, often alpine, plants are usually drought- and frost tolerant and propagated from seed and offsets.

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