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Rock garden ideas

Discussion in 'Garden Projects and DIY' started by Jack Sparrow, Jul 31, 2017.

  1. Jack Sparrow

    Jack Sparrow Gardener

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    This is the area I will be working on next. The water feature is hard wired and will stay where it is. I have trimmed off the Lower branches of the sumac and the canopy of trees above it. I have removed most of the bushes already to make space. The baby xmas tree will go. I kind of like the self set sumac but that will probably have to go as well. Everything else in the photo is movable.

    I have thought about some kind of walkway beside the shed . Maybe a single low fence panel. This would help gain access around the back of everything. The lowest stem of the sumac is 1.1 m so a 3ft panel would fit.

    Around the barrel I will attempt to make some kind of rockery. I thought about various types of phlox as my main focus. I guess I would add one or two succulent plants to add seasonal interest.

    I thought about maybe planting spring bulbs at the front. Daffodils in the corners and snowdrops/crocuses/ in between. I also thought carrying this idea on around the patio slabs. I thought about maybe having bluebells in the dormant shadier areas.

    My main issue is the space behind the rockery. Today I came across Salvia Amistad. On paper it looks just the job. I don't know whether full sun refers to the flowers or the roots. The mature flowers would definitely be in the sun. Despite how it looks in the picture, this spot is currently in the sun from about 11am til dusk.


    If I can't plant behind the rockery due to space or aspect I would like a way of using rockery plants to create height. As the sumac is red, something blue or white would be preferable.

    As always, any thoughts or suggestions will be appreciated.

    G.
     

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  2. Verdun

    Verdun Passionate gardener

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    First thought Jack, the sumach. Get rid asap because it is a suckering so and so. :mad: Make sure you dig deep and remove every piece of root.
    Bluebells? They are beautiful in the right situation,,viz., woodland and large open spaces, but they too invade and will end up colonising every space you have.
    You say a "rockery"! Do you mean a rockery where you will be using rocks? If so, to look right this needs to be using same material with stones placed as though they are part of a large strata of rock. For me it looks too small for this
    Do you want colour, evergreen impact, something with scent?
    I would consider a scented climber on the fence and trachelospermum would be good if soil is well drained and the situation warm.
    Less is more there too I think......try to avoid planting too many dot plants.
    Daffodils yes, esp scented ones like Cheerfulness and hyacinths for the same reason. Tulips too.
    Your Amistad? Lovely summer plant but be prepared to take cuttings as it may not survive cold winters.
    A hardy geranium too...you mentioned blue so Rozanne or Orion would fit in.
    Consider a couple of grasses and heucheras for spectacular foliage colour.
    We need to know if your soil is light or heavy, free draining or moisture retentive to recommend plants properly though. :)
    Sorry for the overall seemingly negative theme but on the contrary you could make something really attractive there :smile:
     
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    • Sian in Belgium

      Sian in Belgium Total Gardener

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      Just a few more thoughts about spring bulbs.... a lot of daffodils throw a lot of foliage after they have finished flowering, which can look untidy in a relatively small space. Your eye will always be drawn to the area, because of the lovely water feature, so you will want it to look reasonably tidy all the time. If you want daffs, I would be tempted to go for miniature ones. Tete a tete are everywhere (normally what is sold as "house" daffs). When naturalised, they flower at a tiny height, and the foliage is relatively early, dying back fairly quickly. I use them a lot to naturalise in our garden. We get to enjoy them indoors, then plant out as soon as the worst of the frosts are past, they flower the next year - a win-win in my books!

      For the back of the border, have you considered an astilbe? The area looks quite shady and moist...if I'm guessing correctly, maybe a shuttle-cock fern (sure it has a proper name, but the native big fern)? Would link in nicely with the water feature too!

      Ok, not what you were implying with your idea of a rockery, but as Verdun says, it would be difficult to get a full rockery effect there, and you loose out valuable planting space to rocks!
       
    • Verdun

      Verdun Passionate gardener

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      Thought about astilbes too Sian but Jack said the site is "in the sun from 11am to dusk"
      If it was a shady spot astrantias, astilbes, ferns, white arums, white anemones etc., etc., ans hackonechloas woukd feature.:)
       
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      • Sian in Belgium

        Sian in Belgium Total Gardener

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        True, but the photo shows sun, and the nearby multi trunks on the other side of the fence imply shade too... but also dry soil, I'm guessing...
        The fern would cope with dryness, and some sun, once established. I would certainly be tempted to put one in, near the back, but then I love them!!

        Oh, and another look at the photo shows that the sumach has already suckered, front-left!!
         
      • Jack Sparrow

        Jack Sparrow Gardener

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        Just a quick question while I'm passing. The sumach offshoot, has that grown from the roots? Is that what you are telling me? Just so I understand the terminology. Thanks. I'll have a full catch up later when I get time to sit.

        G.
         
      • Verdun

        Verdun Passionate gardener

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        Better observation than me Sian......:)
        Yes, from the roots Jack.
        Sumach is notorious for "suckering", sending up "suckers"/shoots all over the place esp when the mother tree is pruned. So many keep it for its autumn colour and dismiss its desire to take over but really it is not a garden plant.
         
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        • Jack Sparrow

          Jack Sparrow Gardener

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          Hi Again. It's a shame. The sumach is the only plant of any interest in my garden. It has taken about 15 years to get to this point. Never mind. Needs must. The rest of those bushes are coming out anyway so I guess a big dig isn't going to be too invasive.

          The fence at the back isn't mine. In fact technically the last foot of my garden isn't mine. It's very difficult to know what to do with it. At some point the field on the other side will be developed as housing. It's possible that at that stage the developers might insist on having there land back. There's no way of telling. So far planning has been refused mainly because the field is prone to flooding. Thankfully my garden doesn't flood although it might if the houses were to be built.

          I have taken another photo with the sun shining. This was taken at approx 4.20 this afternoon. Everything from the water feature forwards is in full sun. Yes it's true that the big trees do provide some shade and some shelter from the rain. I had considered the option of bringing the garden out to the corner of the shed. That would definitely then be in the sun. Then I might have to drag the water feature out a bit so that it sits centrally.

          Colour? Definitely. There is very little colour in my garden.

          Sorry. I've got to go out. I'll try to finish this later. Thanks.

          G.
           

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        • Jack Sparrow

          Jack Sparrow Gardener

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          My garden has lots of green but no real colour. The two bushes in the first picture do flower. The closer one has white flowers very briefly early on. The further one I believe is a choicia actually flowers pretty well. I have 2 of them. They look scruffy because the "gardener" doesn't trim them until after they have flowered.

          The second picture is a red robin that is way out of control. It will have to go. I tried to take cuttings from it but it wasn't successful.

          The next picture is a box hedge that I couldn't use where I had originally intended and so it got stuck there. It has grown quite nicely (about 10 years ISH )but is serving no purpose (except maybe hiding the water butt. I'm not sure what the plant on the end is. When I first came here there was a Russian vine covering that end of the shed. I tried keep it under control but it ended up a matted knot. In the end it died and I took it out.

          The next photo is a sad looking fuscia I planted last year to inject a little colour. The flowers are great but the bush is stunted.

          Anyway my border worries are a different discussion for a different day. The point is colour, yes please. If the sumach is going then the colour clash won't be an issue.

          I'm not sure scent is a priority. I don't think anybody will be going close enough to notice it. I definitely don't want the grandchildren to pick at them (been there, done that).

          I guess the soil is clay. It is very thick and heavy. It is also very dark. The fens where I live are peat rich.

          The last picture is a close up of some of the stones that made up my previous rockery. They were expensive and would really like to benefit from them. The really big ones are ridiculously heavy. They will all have to be moved sooner or later as I will need to regenerate that area as well.. (That's a different thread).

          I was hoping that I could make a shallow bank around the barrel with the odd rock protruding. Then I was hoping to cover with it colourful creeping plants. That was my thinking anyway. I am open to alternative suggestions.

          Now I've forgotten where I've got to. Sorry. Obviously there is no rush for any of this as I won't be planting until next spring. I will take all advice and suggestions on board in the meantime. Thanking you in advance.

          G.

          Ooh. Sorry. Having taken the sumach out, would there be something architecturally similar that's less invasive to sit in that same position. If not, have I lopped off the branches of the big tree for no reason? That would be very like me. That's why I do my thinking out loud. Lol

          G.
           

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        • Verdun

          Verdun Passionate gardener

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          In place of your sumach how about hydrangea limelight? A superb plant with huge lime coloured becoming white flowers all summer long. Paint that fence pale blue as a background.
          Since your soil is heavy a couple of astilbes....Fanal has copper new foliage in early spring and plumes of red flowers in mid summer.....astrantias too for fantastic flowers in summer. For a superb contrast to your white hydrangea plant Actea Brunette.....wonderful sculpted purple black foliage all summer and white spires of flowers in late summer. Alongside go for anemone Wild Swan.....superb glistening white flowers all summer :)
          As a frontispiece plant hackonechloa ....a grass of real class.
          If you have space put in a hellebore orientalis for flowers in late winter to early spring on evergreen foliage.
          Including daffodils, tulips, lilies you will have something quite special and low maintenance
           
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          • Jack Sparrow

            Jack Sparrow Gardener

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            @Verdun . I have looked at the hydrangea. It looks quite interesting, and low maintenance. What do you think to delphiniums alongside and slightly forward, in the area by the cage? I have been looking at delphiniums for a while. I didn't like the thought of cutting them down but if I am cutting down the hydrangea I may as well do those too.

            I have looked at astilbes before. I will continue to study them.

            You mentioned lilies. I have some orange lilies in a container. They bloomed well (3 spikes) but didn't last long. Today I came across a toad lily. It would definitely add a splash of colour. any thoughts?

            I looked at @Sian in Belgium 's giant fern. its massive. I think it would swamp everything else. I would have liked to use the lizard as the water feature. Sit him by a pond and shroud him in ferns. Sadly it didn't happen that way. I would still like to bury him in some kind of undergrowth. He used to live in the periwinkle under my bench. G
            upload_2017-7-31_21-59-43.png
             
          • Sian in Belgium

            Sian in Belgium Total Gardener

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            Hi @Jack Sparrow ...
            ...yes, you certainly wouldn't want to put a shuttlecock fern next to your lizard, or you would only see him in the winter!
            Matteuccia struthiopteris | ostrich fern/RHS Gardening
            The details say that it grows up to 1.5 metres. To be honest, I normally see specimens up to 1 metre, and no more (it grows wild in the beech woods here). The suggestion was to use it as a backdrop, that would draw the eye through, especially in the spring, when the fronds are an almost artificial bright green. I would have been thinking of planting it to the back, and the right, sort of half-tucked behind the aviary? But I do confess to having a weakness for it, and ferns in general!
            The problem I've had with sumach - and yes, I think it is a stunning plant too - is the more you disturb the ground beneath it, the more it sends up shoots, or suckers. Maybe each time you damage a root? I don't know. So if you leave it alone, it is relatively well behaved, but start planting / digging nearby, and a forest of it starts to emerge.
            A couple of alternative suggestions to hydrangea (I love the sound of limelight, by the way)...
            A mock orange, or philadelphus? Or a dogwood? I have a lovely variegated dogwood, and they come in all sorts of stem/leaf colours. Both are relatively easy to maintain, and can be kept to whatever size you require...
             
          • Jack Sparrow

            Jack Sparrow Gardener

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            Hi @Sian in Belgium. I have done a lot of digging in that area recently. I am happy to let it go if need be. I like the look of the hydrangea. The write up suggests it lights up the shady areas. I haven't studied your alternatives yet. I understand what you are saying about a permanent colour in the background, especially if the hydrangea needs to be cut down each year. Would the fern sit next to the hydrangea? Would that be 2 big plants together?

            I've never been a fan of dogwood or other stemmy plants but as a contrast I could be persuaded.

            I have looked at the tete a tete. It needs to be planted in the autumn. Do you agree with this? if so it won't be this year. it also states they are poisonous and irritant. As are several other plants on the list. Would these harm the children if they tampered with them?

            How do you feel about the lone fence panel creating a walkway beside the shed? If the delphiniums didn't go along the back maybe they could line the fence.

            Should I curve the planting area out into the lawn up to the corner of the shed and use this for spring bulbs? My wife is a big fan of snowdrops.


            Enough for now as its bed time. Thanks and good night.

            G.
             
          • Verdun

            Verdun Passionate gardener

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            Trouble is Jack has already seen an "offshoot" Sian so?? Problems ahead anyway!
            I posted a picture of limelight recently and, coincidentally, with pale blue delphiniums. If you prune correctly you can have delphinium flowers 3 times in the summer.....those I have used are mid height that continue flowering. I will post picture again tomorrow.
            Remember dogwoods need to be cut down too but Limelight does give a long period of interest.
            Could I also suggest the planting I did and this was to include a most beautiful long flowering persicaria called Fat Domino. A plant with striking tall dark red self supporting spires all summer. People have remarked about it here and it sets off the hydrangea perfectly.
            Limelight is unlike the usual hydrangeas.....this is a "paniculata" type meaning you cut the plant by half every spring and the flowers come in June and last well into autumn when they turn pink.
            Re ferns, check out the japanese painted ferns. Really classy. Ursula's Red has blue grey leaves with red stems and veins on a compact plant. Simply lovely if you can give it some shade. You are right....you need to pay attention to scale and size.
            I would remove the sumach but, as I said, dig deeply and thoroughly and make sure you get all of it out. Spend some time with this .....get some compost, manure in there too. You may need glyphosate or SBK weedkiller on hand if suckers do appear.
            I would make some sketches, fiddle around with plant choices and see what goes best with what.
            Hey! Have fun with it Jack Sparrow :hapfeet:
             
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            • Sian in Belgium

              Sian in Belgium Total Gardener

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              Interesting, @Verdun! I did say relatively well behaved.;)

              @Jack Sparrow Re the dogwood/philadelphus, like the hydrangea, you don't have to take all the stems down to the ground, but just 1/3 to 1/2 of the stems, so there will be colour there 365 days of the year. The fern dies down in the winter. I normally leave the dead fronds, if they are not flopped over other plants/looking untidy, as frost catches them beautifully. Just remove all the dead stems before the new growth restarts, so you can appreciate the unfurling. @Verdun has suggested other ferns, I don't know about them. I have the shuttlecock ferns, after 4 years, they still don't get much bigger than 25cm tall. Gardening teaches patience...gardening teaches patience.. gar..

              All daffs should "officially" be planted in the autumn, and yes, all daffs are toxic. TBH, many, many bulbs are. But were you rally planning on allowing your children to graze on your planting, anyway?! They are not so toxic that handling them is dangerous. Just don't eat the bulbs like a raw onion... re planting times, I have never bought tete a tete bulbs. I buy the growing daffs in the spring, that are sold for indoors. Once they have finished cheering us up through the dark days of winter, I take off the flowers, and stand the pots outside, next to the house for protection from frosts. After about a month, they have acclimatised enough, and I plant them out "in the green", ie with the foliage still on. This gives you an idea of the untidiest they will ever look. The following year, they flower a few weeks late (late Feb). By the 3rd year they flower at normal time.
              Snowdrops - oh yes, snowdrops! A curving of the border from the corner of the shed would help to integrate it. The bulbs would work well planted in clumps also further back in the bed, rather than just a band along the front.

              I'm a great believer in sketching out. You don't need to be an artist. The plan/sketch only needs to make sense to you. But it's easier to rub out a scribbled clump, than dig out a shrub!
               
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