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The rock garden


The rock garden takes up only a small area in our overall scheme - but it's one of my favorite areas. And since it straddles the front walkway, we all get to admire it up close every day.

I can't call myself a rock garden afficionado - that would mean I'd know the ins and outs of alpine soil types, know how to place all the rocks for the most authentic look, and I'd feel comfortable throwing words like "scree" about. But I learned early on that a rock garden is the best way to showcase small perennials, especially those that require excellent drainage. And a few years ago I finally joined the North American Rock Garden Society (NARGS), so I guess that officially makes me a rock gardener.

To provide for the needs of those small perennials, our rock gardens are somewhat elevated from yard level, and the native clay has been generously amended with sharp sand, granite grit, rocks dug up from other garden areas (there's a use for everything in our garden), and some compost.

Our original rock garden was a strip between the driveway and the front walkway. It is badly in need of help at this point - the yucca we planted there originally gave up, but left lots of babies that come up all over, amid the tangle of various creeping or sprawling thugs, such as Kamtschat, blue-spruce and dragon's blood sedums, myrtle spurge, catmint, woolly thyme, and sea thrift. We now call this part the rock garden annex.

The newer part of our rock garden, carved out of a corner of our front yard, was originally called the "front corner", but steadily morphed into a rock garden. It is now our main showcase for small alpine species. The photo above was taken a couple months after the most recent upgrade, with many of the plants coming into their own nicely. The blooming specimens include Dracocephalum nutans, Linum campanulatum, Sedum kamtschaticum, Coreopsis auriculata, and Penstemon hirsutus. The photo below shows the garden on the same day in late May, from the opposite direction.

A problem with the rock garden is that I like it so much, I make it just a little bigger every year. That's fine with most types of garden - just cut away a foot width of grass, plant some low-growing perennials in the newly plantable area, and voila! But with a rock garden, it means rearranging the whole deal, to maintain a semblance of slope (I'm not pursuing the boulder field look) and natural rock placement. Ah well, it keeps me busy.

A list of plants we grow in the main rock garden

Acaena myriophylla (cadillo)
Adenophora khasiana (ladybells)
Adenophora tashiroi
Aethionema glaucinum
Aethionema grandiflorum (stonecress)
Agastache hybrids (hyssop)
Agave havardiana (hardy century plant; Big Bend century plant)
Allium carinatum ssp. pulchellum (keeled garlic)
Allium carolinianum
Allium cyathophorum var. farreri
Allium daghestanicum
Allium moly (lily leek; golden garlic)
Allium obliquum
Allium rotundum ssp. jajlae (purple-flower garlic)
Allium senescens (broadleaf chives)
Allium strictum (stiff onion)
Alyssum stribrnyi
Amsonia rigida (stiff blue star)
Anacyclus depressus (Mount Atlas daisy)
Anemone altaica
Anemone baldensis (Mt. Baldo windrose)
Anemone lithophila
Anemone multifida var. tetonensis
Anemone palmata (yellow anemone)
Antennaria plantaginifolia (pussytoes; lady's tobacco)
Anthericum ramosum
Anthyllis vulneraria coccinea (kidney vetch; woundwort)
Aquilegia bertolonii (Bertoloni's columbine)
Aquilegia buergeriana 'Calimero' (columbine)
Aquilegia desertorum (Arizona columbine)
Aquilegia flabellata (fan columbine)
Aquilegia shockleyi (desert columbine)
Arabis alpina 'Snowcap' (mountain rockcress)
Arabis androsacea (rock cress)
Arenaria grandiflora (large-flowered sandwort)
Arenaria tetraquetra
Armeria welwitschii (thrift)
Arnica mollis (hairy arnica)
Asarina procumbens (trailing snapdragon)
Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed)
Asphodelus albus (white asphodel)
Asphodelus cerasiferus
Aubrieta deltoidea (purple rock cress)
Baptisia perfoliata (eucalyptus wild indigo, gopher weed, cat's bells )
Barnardia japonica (squill)
Campanula anomala
Campanula carpatica (Carpatian harebell)
Campanula incurva (bellflower)
Campanula trachelium (bats-in-the-belfry, nettle-leaved bellflower)
Carlina acaulis (silver thistle)
Centratherum punctatum (Brazilian buttons)
Cistanthe umbellata (Mt Hood pussypaws)
Cortusa matthioli (alpine bells)
Crocus sativus (saffron crocus)
Crocus speciosus ssp. speciosus (autumn crocus)
Crocus vernus (and hybrids) (spring crocus)
Cyananthus microphyllus
Delosperma nubigenum (hardy iceplant)
Delphinium pylzowii
Dianthus deltoides (maiden pink)
Dianthus giganteus
Dianthus myrtinervius (Albanian pinks)
Dianthus turkestanicus
Draba aizoides (whitlow-grass)
Draba norvegica (rock whitlow-grass)
Draba sibirica
Dracocephalum discolor
Dracocephalum imberbe
Ephedra minuta (miniature joint fir)
Ephedra regeliana
Erigeron compositus 'Red Desert' (cutleaf daisy; fernleaf fleabane)
Erinus alpinus (alpine balsam)
Eryngium agavifolium (agave-leaved sea holly)
Eryngium bourgatii (Pyrenees sea holly)
Eryngium venustum
Gentiana dahurica (gentian)
Gentiana occidentalis ssp. aragonensis
Gentiana septemfida (crested gentian)
Gentiana siphonantha (gentian)
Geranium sanguineum (cranesbill)
Gladiolus communis ssp. byzantinus (corn flags)
Globularia nudicaulis
Globularia repens (matted globe daisy)
Goniolimon incanum 'Sea Spray' (lavender statice)
Gypsophila franzii
Gypsophila oldhamiana (Manchurian baby's breath)
Hypericum androsaemum 'Albury Purple' (purple St John's wort)
Hypericum kiusianum var. yakusimense
Iberis spathulata (candytuft)
Indigofera pseudotinctoria 'Rose Carpet' (prostrate indigo bush)
Iris orientalis
Iris tectorum (Japanese roof iris)
Lathyrus vernus (spring vetch; everlasting sweet pea)
Leibnitzia anandria (Leibnitz daisy)
Lewisia cotyledon (bitter-root)
Liatris scariosa (plains blazing star)
Lilium lankongense
Lilium pumilum (coral lily)
Lilium rosthornii (Rosthorn's lily)
Limonium minutum
Monarda austromontana (lemon beebalm)
Narcissus pseudonarcissus (daffodil)
Oenothera perennis (small sundrops)
Orostachys malacophylla var. iwarenge (Chinese dunce caps)
Orostachys spinosa (dunce caps)
Paeonia ostii (tree peony)
Papaver alpinum subsp. corona-sancti-stephani (alpine poppy)
Penstemon arenicola
Penstemon cardinalis ssp. cardinalis (cardinal beardtongue)
Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (foxglove beardtongue)
Penstemon grandiflorus (large-flowered penstemon)
Penstemon hirsutus (hairy penstemon)
Penstemon hirsutus var. pygmaeus (dwarf hairy penstemon)
Penstemon kunthii (Kunth's penstemon)
Penstemon neomexicanus (New Mexico penstemon)
Penstemon nitidus (shining penstemon)
Penstemon pinifolius (pine-leaf penstemon)
Penstemon ramaleyi (Ramaley's penstemon)
Penstemon strictus (Rocky Mountain penstemon)
Penstemon tenuis (Gulf Coast penstemon)
Penstemon venustus (shrubby penstemon)
Penstemon whippleanus (Whipple's penstemon)
Penstemon wrightii (Texas rose penstemon; Wright's penstemon)
Petrorhagia saxifraga (tunic flower)
Phyteuma vagneri
Polemonium yezoense (Jacob's ladder)
Potentilla argyrophylla
Potentilla neumanniana (spring cinquefoil)
Potentilla nevadensis (Nevada cinquefoil)
Potentilla porphyrantha
Primula veris 'Sunset shades' and 'Red Strain' (English cowslip)
Rosularia chrysantha
Rosularia globulariifolia
Rosularia sempervivum
Salvia jurisicii
Salvia pachyphylla (desert mountain sage)
Saponaria ocymoides (rock soapwort)
Saponaria pamphylica
Saponaria x boissieri
Saxifraga stolonifera (strawberry begonia)
Scabiosa japonica (pincushion flower)
Scilla litardierei (meadow squill)
Scutellaria pontica (skullcap)
Sedum 'Angelina' (stonecrop)
Sedum 'Autumn Joy' (showy stonecrop)
Sedum 'Stardust' (showy stonecrop)
Sedum aizoon (stonecrop)
Sedum divergens (Cascade stonecrop)
Sedum ellacombeanum (stonecrop)
Sedum glaucophyllum (cliff stonecrop)
Sedum kamtschaticum (Kamtschat sedum)
Sedum sexangulare (watch chain stonecrop)
Sedum sieboldii (October daphne)
Sedum tetractinum (stonecrop)
Sedum valens (Idaho stonecrop)
Sempervivum (hens and chicks; houseleek)
Sempervivum arachnoideum 'Forest Frost' (cobweb hens-and-chicks)
Sisyrinchium idahoense (blue-eyed grass)
Sisyrinchium montanum (mountain blue-eyed grass)
Sisyrinchium umbellatum
Stanleya pinnata (prince's plume)
Symphyandra zangezura
Talinum calycinum (large fameflower)
Teucrium botrys (cut-leaved germander)
Townsendia rothrockii
Unidentified (unknown)
Vella spinosa
Veronica spicata (spike speedwell)
Veronica spicata 'Red Fox' (pink spike speedwell)
Veronica wormskjoldii (alpine speedwell)
Viola walteri 'Silver Gem'
Wulfenia carinthiaca (cow's footprint)

A list of plants we grow in the rock garden annex

Allium cristophii (star of Persia)
Allium moly (lily leek; golden garlic)
Allium senescens (broadleaf chives)
Allium tanguticum (lavender globe lily)
Anacyclus depressus (Mount Atlas daisy)
Anemone altaica
Aquilegia alpina (blue alpine columbine)
Aquilegia atrovinosa (columbine)
Aquilegia pyrenaica (Pyrenees columbine)
Arabis alpina 'Snowcap' (mountain rockcress)
Armeria pseudarmeria 'Ballerina Red' (great thrift; false sea pink)
Artemisia 'Powis Castle'
Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed)
Athamanta turbith ssp. haynaldii (candy carrot)
Aurinia saxatilis (basket of gold)
Baptisia perfoliata (eucalyptus wild indigo, gopher weed, cat's bells )
Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Overdam' (feather reed grass)
Callirhoe involucrata (poppy mallow; winecups)
Carex buchananii (leatherleaf sedge)
Caulanthus inflatus (desert candle)
Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Aurea' or 'Cripsii' (golden hinoki cypress)
Clematis recta var. purpurea (ground clematis)
Codonopsis thalictrifolia
Colchicum 'Waterlily' and 'Giant' (autumn crocus)
Dianthus superbus (fringed pink)
Dracocephalum canescens (dragonhead)
Echinacea purpurea (purple coneflower)
Erinus alpinus (alpine balsam)
Eryngium planum (flat sea holly)
Euphorbia corollata (flowering spurge; poison spurge)
Euphorbia myrsinites (myrtle spurge)
Gladiolus communis ssp. byzantinus (corn flags)
Goniolimon incanum 'Sea Spray' (lavender statice)
Hylotelephium spectabile (showy stonecrop; tall sedum)
Iberis auricosa 'Sweetheart' (pink candytuft)
Iris reticulata (reticulata iris)
Lavandula species (lavender)
Leibnitzia anandria (Leibnitz daisy)
Liatris spicata (blazing star; gayfeather)
Lilium henryi (trumpet lily)
Linum campanulatum (yellow flax; western flax)
Lychnis x arkwrightii 'Vesuvius' (Arkwright's campion)
Nepeta racemosa (catmint)
Oenothera fremontii 'Lemon Silver' (evening primrose)
Opuntia humifusa (eastern prickly-pear)
Penstemon kunthii (Kunth's penstemon)
Penstemon utahensis
Penstemon venustus (shrubby penstemon)
Phuopsis stylosa (creeping crosswort)
Potentilla neumanniana (spring cinquefoil)
Raffenaldia primuloides
Salvia nemorosa (meadow sage)
Scilla litardierei (meadow squill)
Scutellaria baicalensis (Chinese skullcap)
Scutellaria orientalis ssp. oreophila (skullcap)
Sedum 'Matrona' (stonecrop)
Sedum cauticola 'Lidakense' (stonecrop)
Sedum dasyphyllum var. glanduliferum (Corsican stonecrop; blue tears sedum)
Sedum kamtschaticum (Kamtschat sedum)
Sedum rupestre (reflexed evergreen stonecrop)
Sedum sieboldii (October daphne)
Sedum spurium 'Dragon's blood' (caucasian stonecrop; two-row stonecrop)
Sedum spurium 'Tricolor' (tricolor stonecrop)
Sedum telephium 'Red Cauli' (stonecrop)
Silene banksia (orange robin)
Sisyrinchium idahoense (blue-eyed grass)
Teucrium orientale
Thermopsis chinensis 'Sophia' (dwarf southern lupine, pea bush)
Thlaspi bellidifolium
Thymus pseudolanuginosus (woolly thyme)
Yucca filamentosa (Adam's needle)

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Last modified: February 12, 2011
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