Thursday, October 17, 2013

My Flat, Rock Garden

I love my tiny garden compositions. Judging by the current enthusiasm for fairy gardens and ongoing enjoyment of gardens for model trains and terrariums diminutive garden compositions seem to be popular. I guess I get my diminutive garden outlet through my rock gardens and in particular, for the sake of this edition of my blog, through my flat, rock gardens. One in particular has proven particularly satisfying, so I am in the midst of expanding and improving it. The photographs below portray a sampling of some of my favorite inhabitants.

I have access to a quarry's scrap sandstone rocks that typically have at least one flat side and are about four to eight inches thick. They are otherwise irregular.  I lay these down like a patio leaving abundant planting gaps where the irregularly shaped rocks don't fit together. I backfill with sandy loam soil.

Above is one of my favorites in this garden, Veronica prostrata 'Wine'. Although the growing conditions are very different from alpine screes, to me this sort of scene reminds me of that rocky, sparsely vegetated landscape.
This tiny clump of Lewisia 'George Henley' (above) is my only surviving Lewisia and it has been growing as this little clump for about seven years. Those sandy cracks between the rocks must be well drained, because I think my Lewisia growing in other sites died from winter wet. Its biggest threat is from encroachment by the neighboring Dianthus. See below.

A dilemma that always seems to loom for me in my rock gardening is what to do with expansive plants such as the above Dianthus gratianopolitanus 'Feuerhexe'. I relish its success in the site but don't want to lose the precious little specimens it engulfs. A balance must be struck and I have been brutally whacking the Dianthus back lately. Notice the above mentioned Veronica prostrata in the lower right hand corner for a size perspective.

I thought I had lost my fall blooming, questionably hardy Leucojum autumnale (above) from this garden, but I was thrilled this fall to find it growing and in bloom.

I had also been missing the flowers of my fall blooming crocus (Crocus kotschyanus)(above) from this garden but it appeared in good blooming order this year. I saw the spring leaves but have had problems in other gardens losing track of these little plants in mid summer after the leaves disappear. I think in this case the flowers were obscured by floppy bordering plants such as the Japanese anemone seen here. I have since beaten them back.

And finally, I want to mention this long time survivor of this garden pictured here several years ago before the stones became weathered and moss covered. This year's photographs of the plant don't do it justice. Its Antennaria dioica 'Rubra', a red flowered selection of a common native inhabitant of thin infertile soils around here. My rockery seems to suit it just fine and its another example of how I don't get too hung up on beating my head against a wall trying to grow true alpines in my hot humid climate.