Answer: Rock gardens typically have a slope to them for good drainage so your first order of business would be to remove all existing vegetation and import some topsoil (either purchased or from other parts of your landscape to raise the area up a little). After placing a mound of topsoil in the area, rake it so it slopes away from your house and then place your decorative rocks and stones in the mound, burying them by one-third to one half (to help stablize them). Then you can plant. A mostly shady site will be a challenge when it comes to plants. You may want some creeping, low growing plants along with some fountain shapes mixed in with shade loving annuals and perennials.
Some plants to consider incorporating into your shade garden include place Variegated Fallopia. In the spring it will pop its head out of the ground and has light, almost white leaves. But as the summer progresses the leaves begin to turn green and white. In late summer the plant will be the star of your landscape design as the variegation draws eyes to it's beauty.
It becomes a terrific change of pace from all the green normally found in the garden. The Fallopia is a nice representation of the term variegated, where the foliage (leaves) has a color that is not green. The leaves might have stripes, blotches or unique marks that stand out from the green that is in the leaves.
Dwarf iris has a spikey look, some of the smaller hostas might look nice next to the stones, Lamium (dead nettle) is a creeping plant, Coral bells has maple-like leaves and wiry spikes of flowers. Poke some annuals in around the rocks and perennials and you'll have an attractive new garden. Enjoy!
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