A rocky garden has many advantages, and above all, it is compact. As a rule, a fairly large number of plant species grow on a relatively small area of a rocky garden, and planting among stones allows you to emphasize the beauty of each of them. Moreover, rocky gardens are unpretentious and very decorative. Thanks to the use of perennial plants with different flowering periods, they retain their decorative effect for a long time and do not require complex maintenance.
Of the many forms of rocky garden, the most common is the rock garden. Alpine rocky garden, reflecting the beauty of the mountain landscape, is intended for alpine plants, inhabitants of the highlands. Such a garden looks most logical on a natural rocky area with an existing rock outcropping. In an area where there are no natural formations of this type, they are created artificially, while trying to make a structure of stones look like an untouched rock. Of interest is a miniature version of a rock garden, the so-called alpine slide, in the role of a small architectural form.
When designing a rocky area of any size, the main task is to create its organic relationship with other elements of the garden. Of great importance is the choice of a good point of view, the use of the effect of perspective, the correct choice of the breed, as well as the size, shape and even texture of each stone. A skillfully created rocky garden should give the impression of a long-established landscape, so it is best if the stone used has a weathered "aged" surface covered with lichen or moss. It should be remembered that some lichens require bright sun, and many mosses are moisture-loving and prefer shade. When transferring a stone along with plants, it is necessary to maintain the conditions of their natural growth.
The various rocks used to build rocky gardens differ in their origins and effects on vegetation. The most valuable material is "warm" stones - dolomite, tuff (travertine), limestone, shell rock, sandstone. Layered, with a porous structure, air and water permeable, these sedimentary rocks slightly alkalinize the soil and go well with most plants. Their only drawback is their relative fragility.
Igneous rocks are very decorative and are widely used in landscape design. Granite, gabbro, diorite, basalt, diabase, unlike tuffs and sandstones, are strong and durable. But, unfortunately, these are dense and "cold" stones: the soil next to them acidifies a little, so you should choose plants with special care. In addition, the chipped blocks of these rocks "age" very slowly, which means they do not "grow together" well with the surrounding landscape. Metamorphic rocks - shale (gneiss), quartzite - are very similar in their properties.
The success of the created rocky landscape depends to a large extent on the accompanying vegetation. The basis of the plant assortment is ground cover species: they are unpretentious, grow rapidly, have early and long flowering. In a rocky garden, shaved, iberis, thyme, saxifrage, styloid phlox, yaskolka, rezuha, soapstone, various stonecrops look great - covering voids and filling cracks, they quickly form multi-colored rugs and add brilliance to the entire composition. However, these plants should not be let out of control: planted on fertile soil, they aggressively conquer territory, displacing more "peaceful" neighbors.
An effective decoration of any rocky garden is undersized shrubs (horizontal cotoneaster, various heathers) and decorative forms of such conifers as mountain pine, junipers, thuja.
Do not forget about flowering perennials, among which you can also pick up species and varieties suitable for growing in a rocky garden. For example, Chinese astilbe 15-25 cm high (blooms in mid-July with compact mauve-colored paniculate inflorescences), an exceptional bleeding heart of no more than 20-30 cm (blooms from mid-May to early August, pink flowers collected in racemose inflorescences), gravilat, gypsophila, perennial flax, various primroses and other plants.
In addition, the early spring flowering of bulbs should not be neglected. The first to feel the gentle warmth of the sun's rays, snowdrops and crocuses will bloom on the thawed patches, followed by spines, chionodoxes. We advise you to plant species tulips (Kaufman, Greig) and daffodils - the bright sparks of their flowers enliven the rocky landscape.
(Based on the materials of the magazine "Stylish Garden", No. 4, 2004)