Forum home Problem solving

Advice about a small rockery

I've just made a small rockery in dappled shade under a large willow tree where nothing would grow.  The ground soil is packed solid and there's not much of it because of tree roots.  I put down top soil and compost and then put the rocks on top and filled in the gaps with soil.  I've planted 4 flowering rockery plants in the gaps and hope they have enough soil to keep them going.  Are there any rockery experts out there who think my plants will survive and grow ok?  Hope I haven't wasted my money!


  • BobFlannigonBobFlannigon Posts: 619

    I don't think you've wasted your money- depending on your definition of dappled shade.  There are plants that can tolerate some shade and still produce flowers but you may need to be aware of their drought tolerance too; the tree will take most of the moisture ground level and below leaving only the rockery to support its plants, so, when it's dry you may need to do some watering (a lot if the drought-tolerance is poor).

  • JenKentJenKent Posts: 52

    Thanks for your reply.  The rockery gets the sun till about mid-day and from then on it's in the shade of the tree.  I checked the soil and it looked a bit dry on the surface so I gave the plants a drink.  I was a bit worried about the amount of soil they might need to thrive, but when you see some of the rocky conditions some plants manage to grow in I'm hoping mine will manage to keep going - after all they are suitable for craggy places.  I suppose if they don't survive at least I've provided a home for garden bugs and insects!  And covered a rough 'bald' patch under the tree with rocks!

  • BobFlannigonBobFlannigon Posts: 619

    Well, good luck, I think you'll be fine and I think you'll find that something will thrive in there.  I've seen a Buddleia growing in a crack in the cement of a chimney stack before, it was about a metre high and in bloom!

  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 6,891

    I've got a long south facing 'rockery' which is a heap of soil and stones on top of the roots of a monster beech tree in our garden. One end is in sun most of the day but nearest the tree, the sun goes off around midday. In that part there are geraniums (nodosum and renardii), brunnera, hellebores, white foxgloves, herbaceous poentilla, male ferns, anenome white swan, a small azalea (we have acid soil), all doing fine. They generally needed a splash of water to get established - so in their first summer - but have been fine since. It is quite a big heap of soil, so they aren't surviving in a couple of inches and I do mulch them quite heavily in spring.

    There's no reason in principle for it not to work, but keep an eye on the plants in their first 12 months in case they need to move, or to be watered/fed and be aware that plenty of weeds, like the sort of buddleia that grows in walls, and buttercups and docks will like it fine too. I actually have left a self seeded buddleia in mine for the time being as it provides a handy wind break on a breezy corner, but once the 'real' plants are settled, I'll take it out.

    “It's still magic even if you know how it's done.” 
Sign In or Register to comment.