Types of Rock Gardens
One that has recently come into popularity is the “Heather Garden.” This is a type very suited to parts of the larger garden made in a district where heather grows plentifully.
There are innumerable good varieties of heaths (Ericas) which flower at varying periods practically all the year round. Set with these, a garden of suitable sandy peatywould rapidly become furnished with plants that need only the minimum of attention. A Heather Garden can in fact be regarded as one of the most, labour-saving types that can possibly be made. ‘ Another distinctive kind of is the Alpine Meadow. The natural Alpine meadow is of course, as its name suggest, a rich grassy meadow such as is found in the Alps. The soil is very fertile, and the grass grows freely, while among the grass grow innumerable flowers, such as Anemones, Colchicums, and so on. In the amateur’s garden it is impossible to allow ordinary grass to grow too freely among flowers, since it becomes far too ragged and untidy unless it is mown. What the amateur gardener calls an Alpine Meadow is therefore a fairly flat and undulating part of the garden, with perhaps rocks protruding here and there over the surface, a general appearance of greenness, and occasional splashes of bright flowers. To paint this restful picture he uses such plants as Cotulas and Arenarias for the green carpet, and groups of dwarf bulbs and other floral gems scattered here and there over them. Grass can be used, but if so, it should be restricted to those parts of the meadow garden which are not close to the rocks, leaving an opening of prepared soil round each protruding rock, in which can be set the flowering rockery plants. Little groups of spring bulbs nestling against large stones, a few , Irises, and ornamental grasses, also set close to the protruding rocks, and an occasional dwarf shrub such as a Pyramid Cypressus, or low spreading , add to the appearance of the picture. The grass walks between the rock and flower patches must always be kept close mown, though they can be undulating instead of flat like an ordinary garden path. If moisture collects, the stones may be useful as “stepping stones.”
The type of planting to be used in a rock garden depends largely on its size and construction. A very large rock garden can be planted generously with the sort of plants that are naturalized in wild gardens,, Valerian, Foxgloves, Monkshoods, and plants of smother growth such as Cerastium, Arabis, Aubrietia, and Thrift.
Which include patches of grass, can be set with spring bulbs, Primroses, Cowslips, Anemones, and hardy Orchids.
The small rock garden, where space is precious, may well be devoted to the cultivation of rare Alpines, such as Gentians, Androsaces,(susiana and stylosis) Ramondias. Small bulbs can be allowed in every type of rockery, but the ordinary spring bulbs of the border are best ignored in rock-planting schemes. The little Grape Hyacinths and “Hoop Petticoat” Narcissus, Scillas and Anemones go fairly well with rock plants, but the more imposing Daffodils and Hyacinths seem somewhat out of place in the rock garden.