Monday, September 20th, 2010...12:00 am

A Rock Garden Question

Rock Garden in Fall by Calendar Garden

TheGardenLady received this question from Malcolm.

We have a rockery in part of our garden.  We sit a lot opposite to it.  In Spring it’s lovely, but the rest of the summer it’s dull.  I want to start again with the rockery.  I will remove all the rocks, dig over the ground adding multi-compost.  Then I want to replace rocks and plant in-between, but with plants that flower throughout summer and will not grow too big. The area has morning sun.  It’s well drained, shaded by noon in May, and by 3pm July.

How lovely to have a rockery or rock garden in your yard. It is a lot of work but the results can be stunning.

Have you ever thought of under-planting early blooming bulbs for spring flowering and then over-planting the bulbs with later blooming  bulbs for a longer show of flowers? See here.  Or you can over-plant the bulbs with summer perennials plants that bloom later on.  When under-planting, be careful of the type of bulb you choose.

Blooming rockery by Owl lover

Some daffodils become very bushy when in the ground for a few years and the leaves will take up a lot of space before they die back. Tulip foliage does not seem to take up as much space after the flowers die. The perennials should not be planted directly over the bulbs so that the root mass of the perennials do not block the bulbs sending through their flowers; plant the perennials slightly to the side. The foliage of the perennials will hide the greenery of the bulbs after the bulb flowers die. (You know that you never cut the foliage of bulb plants after the flowers die.) Some of the species of daffodils or miniature daffodils would be lovely in a rockery.  See here.  This GardenLady loves species tulips.  If the squirrels on my property didn’t love to eat them, I would fill my property with species tulips. There are a number of bulbs that might meet your needs for blooming at different seasons. See here.

Crevice Rock Garden by brewbooks

The perennials that would do well in your rockery are numerous, it is exciting just to think about the possibilities. Since you did not tell me what temp. zone or which country you have your garden,  I will offer some suggestions that will hopefully grow in your area.  I am not including desert plants.

I would consider flowering plants that have interesting leaves so that when the flowers die, you have excitement from the leaves.  Sedums-stonecrop, sempervivens or succulents are slow growers, have flowers and have interesting leaf patterns so that your garden will not look boring when the flowers are gone. See here.  Some sedums take partial shade.  See here.

Another family of plants that have flowers and interesting leaves are in the Epimedium family. See here.  Their spring flowers are like charming tiny orchids and the heart shaped leaves are pretty the rest of the season.

Consider the Alpines. No flowers are more charming for  rock gardens.  See here My favorite place to see Alpines is at the Royal Horticultural Garden, Wisley.

One of the premier rock gardens in the US is the Leonard Buck garden in Far Hills, New Jersey.  This 33 acre site is “sculpted from a glacial stream valley leaving behind rock faces, outcroppings, ponds and a stream. It took the eye of a geologist, fascinated by mineral-topography-plant relationships, to see the possibility of making this site” into the rock garden that it is. The list of blooming plants is posted during the blooming season where you might get some ideas for plants for your own smaller rock garden.

The list of plant possibilities is extensive.  See here.

TheGardenLady and her readers would love to see photos of your rockery – a series of photos of your building the rockery to the final photo of the plants at different seasons plus a list of the plants you chose would be welcome to put on TheGardenLady.org blog.

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