Make A Rock Garden!

About 2 weeks before her daughter's garden wedding, my friend was in the throes of pre-wedding running around. Since the wedding was going to be at her house she looked at her overlooked hillside rock garden and decided that it needed help, and fast.

She asked me, "Can you improve upon my little rock garden?"
Rock Garden BEFORE
I set upon this task without a second thought. My friend is from Switzerland where they create the most beautiful 'Alpine' rock gardens and I wanted to recreate a little bit of 'home' for her. I explained that although our rock garden could not sustain delicate 'alpine' plants easily, I would try to use low growing plants that grow well in a rocky setting.
Rock Garden DURING

We did not have time to bring in a tractor or large rocks so I decided to rearrange the existing small rocks and gather slightly larger rocks from their property. We used a large 'treecart' and lots of muscle to carry the rocks uphill to the garden site.
Right AFTER rearranging the garden
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. I added some 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 dam. '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 grat. '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" & 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
A Year After....


  1. This looks gorgeous - and thankyou for the plant list too - very helpful.
    The year after pic is sublime, and a great motivator to do something similar.

  2. Great job in any amount of time, but well done to get it done in time for the wedding.

  3. Thank you Derek! I will share some more rock gardens ( a little more grand) soon....

  4. Your rock garden really rocks! I’m speechless about the fact that you revived your “rocky” backyard. It looked dry and lifeless before, but look at in now. And the plants you chose are all perfectly beautiful and vibrant!

    Mark Taylor

    1. Thanks Mark! I love reviving rock gardens...makes us see all the possibilities a 'lifeless' little spot can hold. Love your way with words too.

  5. Awesome! Your friend is pretty lucky to have you working on her rock garden. I can only imagine how amazed her guests were during her daughter’s wedding when they saw your work. Anyway, I love all your gardening photos, Jan. They really inspire me to restart my garden too! Thanks for sharing!

    Mitchell Knapp @ Scenic Landscaping


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