Stony Gardens

Stony Gardens
Stony Gardens

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Man always loses to Nature in building gardens, because can only imitate her in his work.

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Fashion also exists in landscape design. More recently, the presence of an alpine slide in a country garden was considered a must. It was not always considered whether the alpine slide fits the style of the garden. A great disappointment is experienced by those whose rock garden looks like a foreign element. Such a garden looks unbalanced, and therefore uncomfortable.

Design rules require the eye to have a place to rest. An alpine slide should become such an object.

Where did the fashion for rock gardens come from in Russian gardens? Interest in alpine slides arose, most likely, as a new unusual way of creating a kind of flower beds using stone.

In the XV-XVI centuries. the rulers of European states sent in large numbers various expeditions around the world. Different goals were pursued in these sometimes difficult journeys. But, almost every expedition sent botanists or biologists to study the overseas flora and fauna. They tried to deliver the outlandish plants to Europe alive. Some of them were of interest as food, while others - for decorating the gardens of noble persons. Thanks to such expeditions, various collections of plants were created, including those growing in mountainous areas. Scientists tried to reproduce conditions for mountain plants, similar to the natural conditions of those habitats from where they were brought. For each group of plants, the composition of soil mixtures, their location in the garden were selected, mountain landscapes were recreated in miniature.The combination of plants and stone looked very impressive. Such garden compositions are called "alpine slides" after the name of the most popular mountains in Europe.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. England, due to its historical development, natural and political conditions, created its own style in landscape design, which was later called landscape design. These gardens differed from the pretentious geometry of the court gardens of France, Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic by the picturesque tree and shrub groups, freely located on glades and lawns, various types of reservoirs. Highly appreciated and still appreciated are landscape designers who are able to preserve existing vegetation and fit young groups of plants in such a way that the "youth" does not look alien. Representatives of natural flora, reservoirs of natural forms, winding paths, compositions using natural stone are often found in such gardens.

Alpine slide with a waterfall
Alpine slide with a waterfall

Alpine slide with a waterfall

It should not be forgotten that rocky gardens have been known in Japan and China for over three millennia. Such gardens were more of a philosophical meaning. They were created to encourage people to admire and contemplate the beauty of objects created by nature itself. For Europeans, such gardens seemed exotic.

Modern alpine slides are all the variety of rocky gardens. The creation of an alpine slide is akin to creativity based on knowledge of the subject.

A site with difficult terrain is a real find for a designer. Natural differences in elevation allow you to create a unique look of this object. To do this, you just need to emphasize the natural beauty of the area and organize the space for a comfortable life.

The variety of alpine slides can be as great as the number of their creators. Someone will want to have in their garden a corner of the meadow familiar from childhood, overgrown with herbs and flowers growing around boulder stones. Someone will reproduce fragments of alpine meadows, mountain streams, screes on the rocks, seen on travels. Someone liked the photo of the mountainous area in the magazine. Plant collectors are another story …

When choosing a place for an alpine slide, the specialists of our design studio always take into account that the slide should harmoniously fit into the surrounding landscape and be clearly visible. If these conditions are not met, it is better to refuse the rock garden.

Designer alpine slide
Designer alpine slide

Designer alpine slide

All rock gardens can be conditionally divided into several types: rock garden or rockery on a plane, rocky slide, retaining wall, rock garden (rockery) - terrace.

There is a slight difference between rock garden and rockery. To create a rock garden, most of the area is allocated for planting plants, and a smaller part is occupied by stones. When creating rockeries, the opposite is true - most of the area is allocated for placing the stone, and a smaller part is occupied by plants.

The raised alpine slide adds volume to the flat garden.

On a flat area, it makes sense to create an alpine slide if its size is not less than 1.5 mx 2.5 m. Often the area of ​​a rock garden can be up to several hundred meters. The height of the alpine slide varies from 1 m to 3 m. Choosing the size of the rock garden, you need to correlate it with the size of the site.

A slide framed by a lawn looks beautiful, away from bright flower beds. In the lawn, you can place large stones, beautiful in texture, surrounded by low plants. The decorativeness of the rock garden is increased by the presence of conifers.

An interesting composition of several slides located in different parts of the garden. Such a composition should look natural, natural.

The beauty of the slide is emphasized by picturesque shrub-woody monochromatic decorative groups planted for the background. When choosing a planting site and an assortment of plants for the background, it must be borne in mind that when growing, trees can completely shade the entire hill, and powerful roots can damage it and suppress alpine plants.

The alpine slides created on the slopes look even more interesting. Most often, terracing works are carried out on such slopes in order to create platforms with a width of 30 cm to 200 cm. All terraces should be combined with each other in design. For the convenience of servicing such a slide, it is good to fit stylized stone steps. For plants, slides built on the east, southeast, southwest slope are best suited. The southern slope is hot and dry in summer. Drought-resistant plants are suitable for this slope, the range of which is small.

Rockery adjacent to the retaining wall
Rockery adjacent to the retaining wall

Rockery adjacent to the retaining wall

Retaining walls can separate the terraces of the rock garden from each other or emphasize the elevation differences on the site. Before erecting a retaining wall, a foundation of about 40 cm must be made under it.

Limestone tuff and travertine are interesting. Alpine plants can be planted in the cavities of these stones, as well as mini-rock gardens can be created.

Natural stone is the most important building block for creating alpine gardens. It must be remembered that the stones must be homogeneous. I recommend choosing rocks that have been treated with wind and precipitation. For the construction of a rock garden, limestone, granite, shale, sandstone, tuff, etc. are used. It is advisable to select stones weighing 20 kg or more. The larger the slide, the more large stones you need. It is they who create the mountain color.

Suitable stones can be found at the bottom and along the banks of streams and rivers. Forest boulders covered with mosses and lichens are very valuable.

After the type of alpine slide is selected, its area, location in the garden, the type of stone is selected, the assortment of plants is determined, you need to draw up a diagram of the future slide.

Stones in the garden
Stones in the garden

Stones in the garden

The construction of the slide begins with the definition of its contours. After removing the sod by 15 cm, it is necessary to make a drainage base from any rotting materials. Small stones, crushed stone, broken and whole bricks, gravel, etc. can be used as drainage. I consider it an unacceptable mistake to lay stumps and other plant residues in the basis of an alpine slide. Sooner or later, plant residues will rot, there will be dips in the ground and rock garden landslides. After which, perhaps, reworking the slide will cost more than its initial construction.

The relief of the slide is created using an earth-sand mixture. The stones are placed on the hill from the bottom up. Large stones are placed first on the drainage so that no more than half of the stones come out above the ground. The ground is covered between the stones nearby.

How to check the safety of stone laying? After the correct construction of the alpine slide, you can stand on any laid stone without worrying that it will swing under you.

The last layer of the slide consists of a nutritious earthen mixture consisting of 2 parts of garden soil, 2 parts of leaf humus, 2 parts of peat, 1 part of coarse river sand. The thickness of this layer depends on what kind of root system and the requirements for soil moisture in the plants that will be planted on the hill.

Rockery variety - crushed stone garden
Rockery variety - crushed stone garden

Rockery variety - crushed stone garden

Some plant species require less fertile soil. If such plants are in the minority, in the “pockets” created for their growth, suitable soil is filled up.

Special "pockets" can also be created in retaining walls. Plants planted in such "pockets" greatly enliven the monotony of the masonry.

The alpine hill is decorated with reservoirs created at its foot, streams running down from stone heights, cascades, dry channels, grottoes are appropriate.

The construction of the slide has been completed. But the plants can be planted only after the slide settles. After construction, the slide must be watered with sprinkler nozzles. The slide usually sinks to ¼ of its original height. Soil is added as it subsides. If the slide is built in the spring, planting is best done in the fall.

It's time to plant the plants. Before that, all the weeds are pulled out. Plants are planted in spring, in April, or in autumn, in the first half of September. Container plants can be planted throughout the summer. Planting plants starts from the top of the slide. Large plants are planted first. They are, as a rule, the centers of compositions located around large stones. A prerequisite for planting is wet soil. After planting, the plants are watered for several days, alternating watering with light loosening of the soil.

When planting plants, the environmental conditions of their growth are taken into account - the requirements for light and soil moisture. Usually, drought-resistant species are planted on the upper tiers, well tolerating direct sunlight in summer and frosts in winter. On the lower tiers, moisture-loving plants are planted. No need to get carried away with a large number of plant species.

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The classic assortment of rock garden includes undersized, creeping, ground cover perennials and dwarf shrubs, such as sedum (sedum), herbal cloves, thyme, edelweiss, turf saxifrage, crowded bellflower, whorled coreopsis, catnip, resin cypress spurge, carpathian bell, large-flowered chernogolovka, monotonous sunflower, spicate liatris, multicolor spurge, cereals, young, white sedum, subulate phlox, yaskolka, geraniums, soapwort, onions, poppies, goldenrod, rock borage, cinquefoil. Among the greenery of the plants of the rocky hill in the sun, plants with silvery foliage stand out, such as felted wormwood, Schmidt's wormwood "Nana", and gray fescue. Our wild plants, suitable for habit, look good in the alpine slides.

Ground cover plants are very beautiful. Their calm thickets have a calming effect. Many of them bloom very brightly. They are an excellent backdrop for bulbous plants.

You can extend flowering on an alpine slide using annual flowers. Perfect for this: escholzia, verbena, small-flowered viola, ageratum, purslane, annual phlox, alissum, iberis.

I can recommend plants for the northern slopes, for shaded areas: Japanese astilba, badan, brunner, catchment, Kupena, lungwort, hosta, liverwort.

In rock gardens, various types of mountain pines, Cossack junipers, horizontal junipers, thuja of various shapes, barberries, Japanese henomeles, Potentilla, low-growing forms of spirits, creeping dwarf willow look very good.

After the plants take root, the earth is covered with a layer of pebbles or decorative rubble.

Do not forget about the subsequent care of the plants. In summer, during a drought, you need to additionally water the hill. In autumn, remove foliage that has fallen on the rock garden. For winter, cover plants that are sensitive to frost with insulating material. In early spring, remove the shelter from the plants, sprinkle the soil around the plants with an earthen mixture. And, of course, cut off untidy inflorescences immediately after flowering.

I talked about the classic alpine slides. In addition to the classics, avant-garde alpine slides are now being created. How many people, so many tastes.

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