Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Rock Garden

I am sorry I didn’t take pictures of this as we did it, but you will see lots of other pictures and a good description of how to do it.

Every explanation of how to create a rock garden tells you to use one type of rock. Well, bully to that. Sure, you might not find several different rock types on one hillside in nature, but you will find different types. That’s good enough for me. Nature is my biggest inspiration.

We used excess rock we had laying around our yard to do this portion. First, we dug out the sod. Next, we dug in the rocks. They need to have about 30% buried. They also need to be situated so that water runs down and around them in order to get to the soil. They need not to create ledges which will hinder water or sunlight from reaching plants below them.

I started planting a few days later. You can plant and situate the rocks at the same time. I did not only because I didn't have the plants yet. When planting, you need to be careful that you leave no air pockets around the plants or under the rocks -- these will fill up with water and then freeze in the winter, killing your plants. Just tamp the soil firmly in place around the plants, and when situating the rocks, stand on them to ensure they're all the way in there and the soil is compacted beneath them. Lastly, I added river rock as a mulch around the plants as the biggest problem with rock gardens is weeds. I do have to weed regularly. Mostly grass is coming up here & there.Here's what it looked like when I first planted it. As you can see, I added a few more plants and those that are in there are growing very well.

In the coming years, I will divide the plants into more sections of rock garden. The rock garden will extend across the entire front of the yard except for the steps which will lead to our porch as we’ll be building a new staircase next year for that.

This was not difficult as we had the slope and didn’t need to create one. We did not amend the soil as recommended as the soil was fine. This is a 3.5 foot by 2.5 foot area.

Now for a closer look at what's growing in there:

The Alyssum is the perennial kind and blooms in spring. It spreads well and will form a mound of foliage and flowers over time, most likely covering the rocks below it. I do have some white annual Alyssum which self-seeded from last summer. I love the stuff, so it gets to see. You can see it peeking out behind the Sedum in the next picture.

Now if anyone knows what the following plant is I would truly appreciate the name. It resembles a tiny pine tree in appearance. It only stands about 4" high. Its "needles" are soft and feel like feathers. I could have sworn this thing had a label when I bought it, but I sure cannot find it if it did.

UPDATE! This is possibly identified as Cyprus Spurge -- a type of Euphorbia. I seem to remember purchasing a Euphorbia so this person is probably correct. We'll see as the season goes on if it follows the growth cycle of this spurge.
Yes, I have a million hens & chicks in there. I know they multiply whenever you blink your eyes, but that's okay. These puppies are so easy to grow, indoors or out, I'll find places for their babies or I'll give them to the good people in the Niagara Plantcycle group. (From whom many of the plants in my rock garden came.) We have hens & chicks planted in bricks, boots, planters, and even tree stumps! Love these things -- they require almost no care at all.

Take a look back at number 2 -- the Autumn Joy Sedum. This is one of my all-time favourite plants. It's a 4-season plant. In the spring, you get lush, fleshy leaves growing on stems about a foot high, to almost 2 feet high by autumn. On top of these stems develop lovely flowers that are like pin-cushions. At first they are green, then they become a dusty-pink shade, and when autumn comes they are a deep mauve. Through the winter as the leaves die down, the colourful seedheads remain, adding a bit of colour to the otherwise monochromatic landscape. In the spring, trim all the dead wood down to the ground and watch the new growth begin the cycle all over again.

After this summer, I do believe I've fallen in love with rock cress. There are so many different kinds, they have so much to offer and, best of all, they are truly not fussy plants. I'll be spreading these around in the rock garden expansions to come.

Next up...what shall it be...the gardens in general or the chair planter? Oh, decisions, decisions...


Gill - That British Woman said...

I know where you can get some nice rocks ;0) if you need anymore!!!

CannedAm said...

LOL! I can see the conversation now...."honest officer, I didn't think it was stealing when the rocks are going to be dozed into fill or hauled off with construction debris."

Officer: "You Americans think you can come up here and pick our countryside clean of rocks!"


I'll see you in the deportation holding cells!

Anonymous said...

That looks like autumn joy sedum, not autumn joy sempervivum.

Actually the type of rocks you'll get vary with location, where I am the soil is a mix of sandy loam and smooth rocks from small to automobile sized. I think the area was once a river delta or something, anyway there are many types of rock because some force of nature moved them all here. Areas with bedrock outcroppings do tend to have homogeneous rock though.

Imanoptimisticbeauty said...

Wow! I absolutely love the rock gardens. Wanna come by and show me how on earth you did it? We have 2 big dogs and not much stands a chance with them around. I need something super hardy to plant that won't be destroyed before it gets established.

CannedAm said...

It's easy to do...but dogs...hmmmmm...my neighbor planted bricks to stop his dog from digging everything out of the one bed. Well, he bricked the bed completely. LOL! Those won't grow though! You should've seen my cat chewing the catmint the second I got it planted. It has survived!

Anon---you're right. I don't know how I managed to label that picture sempervivum. In my text I have it as sedum. I've got to fix that picture!

I suffer from chronic and often acute bouts of mom brain.

Anonymous said...

Some of your new plants seem to have grown already to become rather large for a "rock garden". For example I have several older Autumn Joy sedums and they grow to 2 ft high and 2 ft dia wide, then at this time of the year will bend down their stalks (need to support them) in a 4 ft circle.
Have fun!

Anonymous said...

Just found your site and it is an inspiration to me. I have some of the same plants but not in between rocks-as my father has a 40 year collection of boulders in his front yard, I needed some help deciding what would fill in where the weeds have taken over.
thank you

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