In New Zealand
In 2009, I visited my sister in New Zealand and on one weekend trip we drove down to the city of Dunedin on the South Island. There before breakfast while her hubby slept in, the two of us walked over to the botanical gardens nearby our hotel.
The most impressive garden for me was the rock garden. We walked along a decomposed granite path skirting the hillside above the main gardens. All along this path were rock-edged pockets jam packed with cushiony alpines, dwarf conifers, and low-growing, mat-forming plants. It was simply charming.
Lichen covered granite rocks form planting pockets in the rock garden,…we loved the colors and fine textures of the plants. Form and shape seemed to be most effective and we oohed and ahhed our way down the broom-swept path.
In the California Sierra Foothill Garden
This garden impressed me so much that I was determined to build myself one near the huge granite boulder down the hill from the south end of the house. After husband Larry brought down a load of rock for my birthday, a friend, Cheryl came to help lay it out.
The boulder dominates the garden and the manzanita may need to be thinned to be in proportion. We laid out an edge and formed smaller pockets to be filled up hopefully by lush, mat-forming plants someday. It would be nice to replace the log steps with more rock at some point. A few succulents were planted at this time last year, some that were transplanted from other areas.
The next step was to build a rock and log path along one edge and lay down gravel. It’s very steep here and something needs to stop one from running down hill. Transplants from other areas were planted while considering what plants to buy. Cold hardy succulents are a must when the temperature goes down to 20 degrees routinely. So far the ones planted have been from the neighbors or others who live here. Many of those brought from So Cal when we moved melted and turned black in the cold of the first winter.
Here are some Mediterranean plants great for rock gardens:
Armeria maritima ‘Rubrifolia’, Sea Thrift
Cerastium tomentosum, Snow in Summer
Chamaecyparis obtusa, False Cypress
Cotyledon orbiculata var. oblonga ‘Flavida’, Finger Aloe
Euphorbia myrsinites, Myrtle spurge
Graptopetalum paraguayense, Ghost Plant
Helichrysum petiolare ‘Moe’s Silver’
Origanum ‘White Anniversary’, Marjorum
Pinus mugo, Mugho Pine
Phlox subulata, Creeping Phlox
Salvia chamaedryoides, Blue Oak or Germander Sage
Picea nidiformis, Bird’s nest spruce
Sedum album clusianum, White Sedum
Sedum kamtschaticum ‘Golden Carpet’
Sedum reflexum ‘Blue Spruce’
Sedum rubrotinctum, Pork and Beans
Sedum rupestre ‘Lemon Coral’
Sedum spurium ‘Dragon’s blood’
Sempervivum arachnoideum, Hens and Chicks ‘Cebenese’
Silene schafta ‘Splendens’, Moss Campion
Thymus citriodorus, Lemon Thyme
Thymus praecox arcticus, Creeping Thyme
Veronica allionii, Speedwell ‘Blue Pixie’
California native plants good for rock gardens:
Achillea millefolium californica, Yarrow
Castilleja attenuata, Valley Tassels, Owl’s Clover
Claytonia perfoliata, Miner’s Lettuce
Dudleya cymosa, Hen & Chicks
Eriogonum grande rubescens, Red buckwheat
Eriogonum umbellatum, ‘Shasta’ Sulfur Flower
Fragaria vesca, California Strawberry
Luzula comosa, Pacific woodrush
Viola pedunculata, California Golden Violet
Zauschneria Epilobium, California Fuchsia
The plants listed are all in my garden now, deer resistant and heat and cold hardy.
Our own native Dudleyas will be a great addition in coming years and there are some divisions in the works for my rock garden. Succulents are a perfect choice for this garden and will allow them to spread out and grow into their natural size and shape.
Check the slideshow to see how the rock garden looked this summer one year after planting. The pink is Clarkia amoena blown over from the meadow across the path.
A future trip to our native plant nursery will be a highlight this Fall. Fun! And as always more rocks could be used whenever we find them here.