A Rock Garden to Celebrate Spring (and a Wedding)

About 2 weeks before her daughter's garden wedding, my friend was in the throes of pre-wedding running around and decided that her overlooked hillside rock garden needed help, and fast.

She asked me, "Can you improve upon my little rock garden? It looks so unkempt."

I took the project without a second thought. My friend is from Switzerland where they create the most beautiful 'Alpine' rock gardens above the mountain summits. Although our rock garden could not sustain delicate 'alpine' plants easily, I did want to recreate a little bit of 'home' for her in her garden.

We did not have enough time to bring in a tractor or large rocks so I decided to rearrange the existing small rocks and gather sllightly larger rocks from their property. We used a large 'treecart' and lots of muscle to carry the rocks uphill to the garden site.

We dismantled the existing rock garden and gently dug up the existing plants. I created a narrow winding path with rock 'steps' leading through the garden. This path is both good looking and necessary. It acts as a 'spine' around which the rocks and plants are placed. It is also helpful for tending to low growing plants.

After that, I placed rocks throughout the garden and turned over and prepared the soil for planting (important! do not skip this step). Lastly, we planted new plants and replanted my friend's original garden plants.

Within 5 days, we transformed a forgotten corner of the property into a little gem of a garden. We added wonderful rock garden plants and several evergreen yews at the top of the rock garden to act as a green backdrop for smaller plants.

The biggest hit of all were the annual flowers that we planted, Gomphrena 'Buddy Purple' and the trailing White Bacopa. They are not standard rock garden plants but they provided a splash of color on the rocks all summer long. Some of the plants listed below are not hardy in my area - but they looked great during the wedding.
The Rock Garden Plant List

Campanula carpatica 'Blue Clips'   'Blue Clips' Campanula   6" - 8" h. blue

Campanula posharskyana   Serbian Campanula   6"- 8" h. lavender

Cotoneaster dammeri 'Coral Beauty'   'Coral Beauty' Bearberry Cotoneaster   2' -3' h. red berries

Delosperma cooperi   Ice Plant   6" h. vibrant purple

Delosperma nubigenum   Hardy Ice Plant   2" - 3" h. yellow

Dianthus gratianopolitanus 'Bath's Pink' 'Bath's Pink' Dianthus 6 - 8" h. pink

Dianthus allwoodii alpina   Alpine Dianthus   8" h. pink

Geranium 'Biokovo'   'Biokovo' Geranium 10" h.   White w/ Pink

Helianthemum nummularium 'Raspberry Ripple'   'Raspberry Ripple' Sun Rose   6" - 10" h.red & white

Helianthemum 'Wisley Pink'   'Wisley Pink' Sun Rose   6" -10" h. soft pink

Iris cristata   Dwarf Japanese Iris   6" - 8" h. purple

Kamtschaticum ' Varigatum'   Variegated Sedum   4" - 5" h. orange

Sempervivum 'Mahogany'   'Mahogany' Hens and Chicks   3" h. red tinged

Thymus wooly   Wooly Thyme   3" h. pink

Veronica repens   Creeping Speedwell   2" h. light blue

Veronica 'Waterperry'   'Waterperry' Speedwell  4" - 6" h. light blue


  1. Veeerry nice. Rock gardens are where it's at. Rock gardens usually have rare plants that are more interesting than the usual border palette. You did a good job with the last minute assist!

  2. There are a lot of rock garden die-hards up here. We have scads of native alpine plants, maybe that's why;) I love finding big rocks on my property, they are so useful.

    Christine in Alaska

  3. How beautiful and what a wonderful friend you are to have helped create this rock garden!

  4. You guys are so kind...she is a wonderful woman, my friend...she gives to all...and what a great wedding gift for them! The gift of a garden.

  5. It’s quite impressive how you transformed the garden in such a short amount of time. It looks really nice with those lovely flowers. A beautiful garden can be a wonderful addition to an outdoor wedding setup. My wedding is in a few weeks, and we have also booked and outdoor party venue that has an amazing garden and a small pond.


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