What exactly is a Rock garden?
Garden planned around natural rock formations or rocks artificially arranged to replicate natural (often mountainous) conditions. The concept of rock gardens is believed to have been introduced from China and Japan into the Western world in the 17th cent. They have since gained wide popularity as an ideal method for the cultivation of mountain flora and for beautifying hilly, stony or other awkward terrain.
Rock plants usually have long roots that enable them to obtain moisture even when the surface is hot and dry. Low plants requiring well-drained conditions are suited to rock gardens: besides alpine plants, these include stonecrops and species of phlox, bluebell, and succulents.
A rock garden can provide several different habitats even in quite a small area. A rock, for example, can be placed so that sun-loving plants make the most of its sunny face whereas shade-tolerant plants can nestle in its north-facing shadow. A large garden is not essential as it is possible to incorporate a rock garden into all sizes of the plot.
Choosing the right site:
- Aim to use the most open position, away from overhanging trees or tree roots, where plants will receive sun for the greater part of the day.
- It is better to have fewer hours of sun per day than the whole day in light shade
- Choose a position where the drainage is perfect unless you are prepared to build raised beds or enhance drainage in other ways.
Choosing the best Rocks for garden:
Rock gardens are quite an investment in hard materials such as rock, stone, gravel or slate.Choose local stone if possible.
- Sandstone is an example of a suitable rock, widely available, that is not too alkaline (limestone) or hard and dense (granite).
- Limestone from natural ‘limestone pavements’ was widely used. These pavements are a scarce and finite resource with a unique flora.
- Choose stone in a range of to construct a natural-looking outcrop.
Placing the stone:
To create as natural a rock garden as possible select large stones to act as ‘keystones’. Position the larger of these first and place the remaining ones so that the layer look natural. Use a spade to dig out hollows to set the stone into. A crowbar will help move the stones into their permanent positions. Support them with smaller stones or bricks underneath. Aim for a naturalistic look when setting the rock in place. The rocks should tilt backward, with the strata running the same way. Use weed-free topsoil for the top layer of the rock garden, working it underneath and between the stones to set them firmly in place. Bury the stones up to a third of their depth, firming them in place. Leave the areas between the stones uniform and add the specially made compost over the area to create planting pockets.
Planting the rock garden:
Remove the plant from the pot, make sure the plants are planted firmly in the compost mix and are top-dressed with gravel or soil. Set a few plants first, then add rocks around them. Try to cover as much of the surface as possible with rocks and plants.
Plants for rock garden:
A wide range of plants called’ Alpines’ can be grown successfully, like achillea, alyssum, azalea, begonia semperflorens, dianthus, gazania, linum, primula. Perennials like – phlox, saxifrage, verbena can be grown too. Besides, one can grow cacti, succulents, euphorbia milli, sedum, miniature roses, lantana, and ferns.
There are many ways you can design your rock garden. Select the perfect site that is suitable to your landscape conditions to achieve a better effect and if you choose plants wisely, no matter what kind of design you have chosen, you will have a beautiful, thriving rock garden to be proud of !