A Beginner’s Guide to Rock Gardens
Rock gardens have been part of landscaping and gardening lore for millenniums. In the East Japanese rock gardens or Zen gardens have been places where people could meditate in serene and harmonious surroundings.
Why are more people designing their own gardens incorporating at least one rock garden in the design? Even if the rock garden is quite small, it is going to add a touch of distinction to the landscaping of your garden.
In Japan, rock gardens were normally built as dry landscape gardens, where a number of landscapes were made up of natural compositions made from natural products incorporated into a landscape. These natural items included bushes, trees, Moss, water, rocks and sand. One believes that the concept of rock gardening originated in China, especially when the ancient religion of Shintoism spoke about places of harmony where one could commune with nature and the spirit in serenity. These were normally made in monasteries, where they could be seen from one focal point, like say the porch of the head priest of the monastery.
Choosing the Right Site
A great deal is going to depend on the position or the shape of the ground. A sunny site is always welcome which means that you can grow plants there which enjoy the sun. As many of the plants which are planted here are alpine plants, any site which has unrestricted light is going to be welcome.
Secondly, the site should be in a place where the garden is made into a separate feature. Don’t make it right in the middle of your lawn, because that is going to distract from the beauty of a well-kept lawn. Don’t make it around a fountain or an artificial landscaping feature because that is going to distract from the originality of the design.
Even a belt of shrubs planted on purpose is better as a division that having no separation at all between other features and your rock garden.
Never plan a rock garden near Sycamore trees or elm trees. These are not very common in these, and that is why gardeners and horticulturists did not bother much about these particular trees have on the soil affecting the growth of the plants in your rockery.
Rock and Stone Placement
The different types of stones which you can use in the paving or placing in your garden are going to be in five different traditional modes. They are either going to be flat or declining. They are going to be tall and vertical or small and vertical. And the last option is arching rocks.
These rocks are going to be sedimentary rocks, especially those found by mountainsides, seashores and rivers. You can also use igneous rocks to create mountains. If the rock does not look very well on one side, just place it leaning and smother with plants.
The most suitable rock material is what you are going to find in nature. Not all of us are plutocrats, and we are definitely not going to be spending thousands of dollars in buying made to order stones and rocks brought from long distances.
Building Your Rock Garden
Always start building at the lowest point by bedding the base rocks in the ground. They should be put in sufficiently deeply. At least two thirds of the rocks should be buried to make them look just like a natural outcrop. They will thus incline towards the main body of the soil in which they rest.
The tilting backwards slightly is going to help to guide the rain down to the roots of the plants and not to take it away as the other rocks are placed into position, they may either have a tilt the right or to the left.
Whatever tilt is given to the lower stones, the higher ones should follow the same sequence for a good distance. You can consider this to be a theme of natural stratification.
As the stones are put into position suitable soil may be placed behind them and rammed tightly to keep them in position. Do not forget the pockets which may be as large as 3 ft.², even if the large ones have smaller rocks peeping through them.
Planting Your Rock Plants
Once you have made your garden, your next priority is to see it carpeted and furnished at the earliest possible moment. There are a number of plants which are going to do this really quickly, but because they are strong, growing, they are apt to smother weaker and choicer plants in consequence.
So make sure that you do not overdo the strong growers. Once you have planted them see that they are cut back and trimmed regularly and keep them within bounds. I have seen lots of these ambitious projects starting out with a choice selection of plants, only to end up a year or two later, just a mass of one or two of the most dominant and rampant types, growing all over the place.
The best quick growing plants, which you can grow are Iberis, [Candy tuft] Arabis, [Rock Cress or Alpine Rock Cress] Cerastium, [Mouse Ear Chickweed] Aubretia, [Purple Cascade] and Alyssum saxatile [Basket of Gold]. However, these plants have to be kept in control, otherwise they are going to take over your rockery.
List of Rock Plants, depending on the Particular Conditions and Places
This list is also going to be short, because one can just give a gardener an outline of all the plants which can be planted, and the conditions particular to them. You may want to go online or consult an experienced nursery professional to give you more advice on these particular plants and others.
Shade loving plants –
These plants consist of Ferns, Aconites, primulas, Androsace oliosa, Arinaria balearica, Ramondia etc.
Plants Which like Half Shade –
Primulas, Androsace arachnoidea, Aster alpinus, saxifrage, viola, epigaea, Mertensia, etc.
Plants Which like Moisture –
Trillium, Mimulus Parnassia etc.
This book has given you a beginner’s introduction to construction of a rock garden, which is going to give you plenty of pleasure as it grows. You do not have to go in for classical styles and designs, if you are looking for just an unusual feature in your garden landscape. Apart from this, these gardens can be made in a limited area and can become very attractive features to entice you during your daily promenade in your garden
So it does not matter whether you are an experienced gardener or an immature hobbyist – start collecting rocks and stones for your rock garden right now.
Live Long and Prosper!