Rock Garden - Knowledgebase Question

Washington, Dc, MD
Avatar for jmartz4
Question by jmartz4
January 17, 2001
I recently moved into a house in the city with a large rock garden and fountain in a relatively small yard. The rock's are tiered amd start about 5 feet from the ground and has 3 levels with small pools of water at each level The garden overpowers the rest of the yard. I am interested in softening the look of the rocks which are literally heaped onto each other in levels and joined together by concrete. There are lots of little spaces between the rocks that I thought I could add some plantings, but the roots would have to be very shallow. I also have a couple of feet around the base of the garden where I could plant some flowers to soften the appearance and still enjoy the sound of the water falling. Any ideas? This is located on the southside of the house, but adjacent to the northside of the garage so I would say there would be partial shade.

Thanks for your help.


(fyi - I really live in DC but the District of Columbia was not a choice in the State "pop-up"

Answer from NGA
January 17, 2001
Based on your description, I suspect the planting pockets would dry out almost immediately during the summer -- hot sunny location, concrete and reflected heat are very inhospitable. Rather than plant in the pockets, maybe you could plant some sort of vine at the base of the fountain and allow it to grow up and soften the look of it. Then you could strategically place some large planters of annuals or possibly exotic tropicals to add color.

You might consider using the evergreen English ivy (Hedera helix) to cover the fountain, especially if you look at it often in winter. In addition to the classic plain green we are accustomed to seeing, there are an increasing number of new varieties that are smaller and less aggressive and could be planted in combination to add interest.

You could use the annual ornamental black and/or chartreuse sweet potato vines for a striking look, or you might also use a flowering annual vine such as morning glories to scramble up over the fountain but this would have a less formal look.

Annuals for a hot location would include the typical marigold, petunia, zinnia, verbena, salvia, nicotiana, cosmos, and dianthus.

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