Rock Gardens forum: Kinds of rocks for rock garden?

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Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Region: Canadian Bulbs Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters Lilies
Peonies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Ideas: Master Level
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CarolineScott
Jun 15, 2014 6:19 AM CST
I have always imagined rock gardens as having craggy hunks of interesting rocks.
But acquiring those is not easy. My neighbour is excavating his front yard and finding lots of rounded rock which I am collecting for my rock gardens.
Is there any type of rock which is better for a rock garden?
Name: Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Plant Identifier
growitall
Jun 15, 2014 11:40 AM CST
In my opinion, no, unless you planned to drill into and plant into the rocks themselves (a specialized use which would normally require softer sedimentary rocks such as tufa or other porous limestone that provide a porosity network for the roots to grow into).
The rocks are really secondary to the growing medium, which needs to provide good drainage to grow a lot of what we consider rock garden or alpine plants. The rocks can provide structure, height, and aesthetic properties to the construction, but a gravel or sand bed with no rocks at all can grow plants just as well. To demonstrate this point, you can browse through umpteen pages on the construction and fabulous successes of Tim Ingram's sand beds on the SRGC forum:
http://www.srgc.net/forum/index.php?topic=7932.0
For other great examples of sand/gravel beds, look up entries from Anne Spiegel (she mostly talks about crevice beds but she has every imaginable sort of rock garden bed) and Bob Nold on the NARGS and SRGC forums, e.g.:
https://www.nargs.org/forum/where-i-get-thrown-out-all-rock-...

Back to your point - rounded "river rock" cobbles and boulders can be used just as effectively as angular broken rock pieces. There is an example of a "glacial moraine" bed built by Cohan at NARGS using cobbles that I think looks great - I'll try to find it and post a link.
[Last edited by growitall - Jun 15, 2014 11:41 AM (+)]
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Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Region: Canadian Bulbs Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters Lilies
Peonies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Ideas: Master Level
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CarolineScott
Jun 15, 2014 7:01 PM CST
Thanks Lori.
I have been stirring in a cup or two of traction sand when I plant alpines.
It is easy to get in the winter.
I suppose that I should perhaps keep small bags of say---
limestone etc. for plants which like different rock environments.
[Last edited by CarolineScott - Jun 24, 2014 8:59 AM (+)]
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Name: laura white
2159 Fleming Way Richmond, VA (Zone 1a)
Gorgeous!!
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laurawhite
May 13, 2015 2:00 AM CST
I suggest you find a big rocks and paint them with different colors. I have a garden and I personally arranged them every day til it becomes beautiful.
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Region: Canadian Bulbs Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters Lilies
Peonies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Ideas: Master Level
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CarolineScott
May 13, 2015 3:03 PM CST
Welcome! Laura
Now that is a different idea that I would not have thought of.
But I am afraid that I like the plants to tell the colour story in my yard.

Cidsongs
Jun 2, 2015 6:46 PM CST
you can also use pieces of broken glass and brick

Cidsongs
Jun 17, 2015 11:19 PM CST
you can use anything really, I only do I need in containers do I don't know about big rocks pieces but for containers you can use all kinds of stuff. Small pebbles with some potting soil and perlite is simple. Ive used grated styrophome to help with drainage. I plan to do a new one with a large clear container and use anything from glass, colored sand, colored fish gravel, beads, painted rocks. I don't think it makes much of a difference in a large outdoor rock garden but I would choose rocks with angles and sharp edges for an abstract natrual effect and round rocks for a more symmetrical or designed look.
Wisconsin (Zone 4b)
"They" say Zone 5, I garden for 4!
Dog Lover Daylilies
gchrismer
Mar 20, 2016 12:01 AM CST
I am soo glad to know I amnot the only crazy gardener out there hauling rock Rolling on the floor laughing I keep a pair of old leather gardening gloves inthe RAV for that purpose - now I just need a ramp to get them up into the vehicle! I have had back and neck surgery, so can't accomplish as much as I used to, but I don't give up, just more cautious.
Have too many rocks? Yes, that's pretty funny! Hilarious! I have also learned more about them as I go along. Some are SO pretty, some big ones so smooth and round. Influences of nature are amazing!

Ginni
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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Oberon46
Mar 20, 2016 12:11 AM CST
I swear I am turning one of my tiny hillocks into a rock garden. But need to 1) dig out existing plants, 2) remove soil and replace with appropriate soil, introduce rocks ( like from where??) and find plants. Don't know if I can do it but it is a goal.
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Region: Canadian Bulbs Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters Lilies
Peonies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Ideas: Master Level
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CarolineScott
Mar 20, 2016 8:15 AM CST
And a great goal! Mary.
It could be just a gravel based mound too.
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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Oberon46
Mar 20, 2016 8:17 PM CST
I am attending my first rock garden society (local) meeting next Saturday and will 'mine' for information while there. Guess I should also read some of the books I bought. They look impressive on the shelf but don't do me a bit of good sitting there. Hilarious!
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Region: Canadian Bulbs Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters Lilies
Peonies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Ideas: Master Level
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CarolineScott
Mar 21, 2016 9:38 AM CST
Gardening groups are a great way to learn!
Yours will be good in that it is local,
so they will have information which works there.
Name: Jeanne
Lansing, Iowa (Zone 5a)
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gardenglassgems
Mar 22, 2016 6:33 AM CST
Here is a picture of what I consider my rock garden. I have only the one and used mostly bagged river rock until I found out I could buy it by the truck load from the rock quarry.
Thumb of 2016-03-22/gardenglassgems/3f961c Thumb of 2016-03-22/gardenglassgems/c4e0f8

I didn't have any large rocks for the edge at the time so a friend and I borrowed the firewood from my husbands pile and used it. I kind of like the look.
Thumb of 2016-03-22/gardenglassgems/9d4350

Yard decor, repurposing, and flowers,
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Region: Canadian Bulbs Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters Lilies
Peonies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Ideas: Master Level
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CarolineScott
Mar 22, 2016 6:46 AM CST
That bed is nice, but does it drain for you?
I am wondering at it being so flat?
Name: Jeanne
Lansing, Iowa (Zone 5a)
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gardenglassgems
Mar 22, 2016 7:00 AM CST
It is actually on a slight slope. I put down landscape fabric under the whole thing. I dug holes and put large cattle lick tubs in to hold my Russia sage, Iris, and grasses from spreading. I don't have a problem with it draining. I am thinking about planting more plants in there this year. I will have to move the rock and cut the fabric where I want to place the new plants. I will update in the future with pictures when I get it done. I don't really water this bed. I leave that up to mother nature but if I add more plants, I may have to start watering it during our dry times.
Yard decor, repurposing, and flowers,
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
Image
Oberon46
Mar 22, 2016 8:48 AM CST
When I had the back yard entirely done they lined around the house with that heavy fabric and 1-2" rock. They said I could 'easily' just pull back the rock and cut the fabric to plant. Boy was that a fib. Easily!! NOT. It about killed me and I finally just raked (still hard work) the rock out onto poly then pulled up the fabric entirely where I wanted to plant. It was successful in keeping the weeds almost entirely out although I had laid poppy stems there to let them dry and seeds escaped. I had crops of poppies right in the gravel. Hilarious!

I think I would prefer a mix of fractured stones, not river rock, and soil, more or less 50/50 depending on the type of plant to go there.
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)

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