To say that I live on a rocky site is, um… a bit of an understatement. Really, you should call me Mrs. Rubble. Honestly, I wouldn't mind. After all, if the paleolithic sandal fits, you might as well wear it! You see, my house sits atop a ledgy hillside, and though it's lovely here, I haven't much loam. In fact, most of my garden is planted in a loose mix of gravel and stone; a "soil" type more accurately described as scree. This is serious rock garden country if I have ever seen it!
Ironically, once upon a time, I coveted alpine gardens. Oh, how I longed for little planting pockets; nooks and crannies filled with stonecrop, heather, laurel, and other rock garden treasures. But as they say: Be careful what you wish for! I certainly got my rock garden—and then some! When designing the entryway landscaping here at my home, I needed to familiarize myself with an entirely new climate, and find a group of plants to match.
As I drew up the plan for my alpine garden, Rock Garden Plants by Baldassare Mineo proved to be one of the most valuable resources in my gardening library. This beautifully photographed encyclopedia of alpine plants contains all of the information about hardiness zones and soil types that any rock gardener needs to make good planting decisions. With the help of this wonderful book, I was able to weave a colorful carpet across a seemingly inhospitable landscape of dry, exposed scree.
All Flintstones jokes aside, rock gardening has become very fashionable in contemporary landscape design. Many style-savvy gardeners are interested in succulents, and indeed they make perfect design sense in dry, rocky sites like mine. Debra Lee Baldwin's Designing with Succulents is one of the most inspirational, well-regarded resources on the subject. This gorgeous book contains chapters for every garden zone; from hot, desert oases to cold climates like mine. As user-friendly as it is beautiful, Designing with Succulents is a must-have for the rock-garden enthusiast.
Have you ever tried gardening with alpine plants? What sort of plantings do you picture when you hear 'rock garden'?
Michaela grew up gardening, studying plants, and picking organic produce on the family farm. When she isn't spreading compost or pruning shrubs, she can usually be found writing articles or giving seminars on all things gardening. Michaela has worked as a gardening professional for 15 years and is author of the popular blog, The Gardener’s Eden.