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Creating a rock garden


I was quite inspired by the piece on Rock Gardens a couple of weeks back and I have the ideal space for it. However, as you can see from the picture, the ground is unprepared and there are some very mature trees around with roots and ivy. The space gets minimal sunlight as it is largely blocked by overhanging tress branches and a barbecue area.

It looks like a bit of dumping ground and needs plenty of love and attention. Soil is quite hard and plenty of clay. I would like to know how to treat the soil and what plants would be good for it. I can't seem to dig it easily with a spade. 


  • PalustrisPalustris Posts: 4,298

    Most alpines need full sun, so if it gets little then you would be wasting your time and money. May be better to make it into a fernery.

  • I agree with Berghill.  Although there are low growing rockery plants that will survive there, most 'alpines' will find it hard work and the lack of light will always cause them to be drawn, leggy and weak.  Ferns, epimediums, hostas (once established), geranium sylvaticum 'Mayflower', to name a few, will be more suited to the conditions. Hellebores, too, will hugely extend the flowering season.  The first part, though, is to thoroughly clear it, weed it and turn as much of the soil as possible to allow for the free root run of the new plantings.  The addition of some compost would help.  Then, a few chunky logs and start planting. Use the logs to sit over the areas where the tree roots prevent you digging and also as 'walls' against which you can increase the compost depth to give you some planting room.


  • PalustrisPalustris Posts: 4,298

    Agree. Sorry was called away before I carried on with answering this.

  • Hey thank you for the advice. It's much appreciated.

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