Do you have an area of your yard that gets a lot of sun, has poor soil quality, and not much water? If its a yes, than rock gardens may be the perfect solution for that area. Rock gardens are one of the most unique type of gardens you can have. With the right kind of plants you can create a beautiful area where plants will flourish. By adding a sitting area it can also be a place where your mind can relax and rejuvenate. To top it off there are so many different types of rock gardens to choose, Native plants (suggest this one), Japanese, Zen, Succulent, or on a slope or step area. When searching for plants you will find that there are a lot to choose from. Here are a few that I think are great.
My favorite for rock gardens has to be Douglas Moss Phlox- this perennial is easy to grow comes in colors of mauve, rose, or light blue and attracts bees, butterflies and birds with a bloom time of late spring to early summer.
Yellow Alpine Alyssum - if you are looking to add a splash of color to your garden this is the plant for you. With its soft yellow fragrant flowers that bloom mid to late spring, this perennial is tolerant of hot, sunny sites with poor soil as long as there is good drainage.
Blue Fescue- an ornamental grass you might not think to put into your rock garden, but with its blue coloration, it will make the rocks really stand out. To keep leaves blue, it needs full sun, does well in dry soil, water weekly during hot summer months to keep it growing, short periods of drought will stunt the growth, but not kill the plant.
Rock Cress - with its white, pink, rose, mauve or lavender flowers, its a must have if your garden is on a slope with lots of rocks. This perennial will cover your rocks giving the garden a softer look. They do well in fair to poor soil and grown best in full sun. Blooms in mid-late spring and early summer with blooms that are so abundant that it almost covers the foliage below. It is both vigorous and very eye catching, grows 4-9 inches tall and spreads 1-2 feet. Best of all, butterflies are attracted to the flowers.
Hens and Chicks - are small succulent plants which do not need a lot of water, multiplies as they grow, and are able to creep into the smallest spaces in your garden to make it look fuller. Hens and Chicks require very little soil to grow, prefer full sun but will tolerate partial shade, they will even survive frost and snow, They are a flowering plant when mature with leaves of red, purple and pink highlights, The chicks can be divided from the mother plant to prevent overcrowding.
Sedum- is also know as Stonecrop, is another perennial succulent and does not require a lot of water, will do great in hot sunny locations and take the heat of the sun without any problems. Sedum blooms from early summer to late fall, and range from 1 to 3 feet tall. Newer cultivars of tall sedum have been bred to be shorter and less floppy. With clusters of pink star-shaped flowers which turn a vibrant dark red or maroon in the fall and provide bees with a late season snack. Its an easy plant to reproduce, just break off a piece and place it in soil and watch it take off.
Thyme- being a herb, you might not think to put this plant in your rock garden. Thyme can be a very decorative plant that will look great and help to decorate a specific area of your garden. Creeping thyme stays short about 4 inches, while other thyme grows to 6 inches in height, when planted in full sun and well drained soil but can adapt to partial shade. Best part of planting thyme is you can this herb top season your food!
Remember these are only a few of the many plants you can grow in your rock garden. This is a perfect time of year to survey your yard for the perfect spot to create your very own rock garden.
FUN FACT- Rock gardens can tolerate all types of weather conditions from intense heat and sunshine, which can bring on a drought, to heavy winds, major precipitation in the form of rain or snow and still look great with little maintenance throughout the year. Rock gardens are great for people who live an active lifestyle and don't have enough time to water a garden filled with flowers but want the all the beauty a garden can bring. A rock garden can certainly diversify your yard!
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North Haven Garden Club is a member of The Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut Inc., New England Garden Clubs Inc., and The National Garden Clubs Inc.
Article by Cindy Golia