Gardens that team plants with stones take extra thought -- and muscle -- to create. At their best, rock gardens provide a nurturing microclimate for plants among artfully placed stones. They can be a beautiful solution to landscaping problems such as eroding slopes, areas that are difficult to mow, and awkward grade changes.
A rock garden should look like a slice of a natural, rocky landscape. Alpine rock gardens resemble a windswept mountain peak complete with rugged, lichen-coated rocks and boulders, flowering alpine plants, and twisted evergreens stunted by harsh growing conditions. Woodland rock gardens made of mossy rocks and boulders demand ground-hugging wildflowers such as trilliums, violets, and ferns. Desert rock gardens feature cacti and other succulents as well as desert annuals such as California poppies.
Continued on page 2: Siting the Rock Garden