A rock garden highlights alpine plants and other small perennials in a natural looking setting. This is a good time of year to do some planning and ordering for a new garden. Alpine plants are found in nature above the tree line. They most like good drainage, light, and a cold, dry winter. Even though we live in the South (zone 7b), The Gardener wanted to try a rock garden in a sloping bed near our house. After going to several meetings of our local chapter of North American Rock Garden Society, he came up with a plan.
What you need
You will need to prepare the soil for the garden. A recommended mix is 1/3 top soil, 1/3 leaf mold or humus (an aged compost), and 1/3 pea gravel or Permatill (an expanded slate with porous surfaces).
Prepare the bed by removing unwanted plants and weeds. You want the bed to be about 6 inches deep for the plants. You can dig and loosen the soil 3 inches down and add 3 inches on top of the rock garden soil mix. Surround the bed with garden edging (it can be stone, metal, or plastic). Use the provided metal stakes to pin it in place.
Decide where to place your plants, paying attention to their sunlight needs. After planting, have fun placing rocks and stones in the garden! We will continue on our quest for good-looking large rocks to landscape and add character to this little garden.
Rock garden plants
Here are some suggestions for plants that might do well in a southern rock garden:
Alabama wild ginger; columbine; Dwarf crested iris; Eastern shooting star; firefly snow crocus; green and gold; ice plant; Lenten rose (helleborus); Sibthorp’s primrose; trailing phlox; Virginia saxifrage
Be sure to check these resource links for photos of garden layouts, suggested plants, and inspiration.
- Rock gardening from the Royal Horticultural Society
- The Rock Garden at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
- 20 Rock Garden Ideas from Home-DIT
- The History of Rock Gardening in America from NARGS
- Rock garden plants photo galleries from NARGS
- Juniper Level Botanic Garden
- Camellia Forest Nursery
What’s your favorite flower? I’ll be looking for your comments!
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