During the pandemic, everyone began to especially appreciate their suburban areas. Even those who have never been fond of gardening and landscaping began to decorate them. Including our stars.
It turned out that if desired, nothing is impossible even for a novice summer resident. And, following the instructions, you can organize a luxurious rockery on your site, simply put, a rock garden that combines the beauty of an ordinary flower garden and stones.
“Many people confuse rockeries and alpine slides. In fact, they are not too wrong. After all, rockery is the common name for rocky gardens, as a rule, it is a flat composition, and what an alpine hill is is already clear from the name. Rockery is also distinguished by the selection of stones – when laying it, not only rocks are used, but also rounded river boulders or large pebbles. But nothing prevents you from combining these two types in the country: rockery and a hill, says landscape designer Victoria Klemeshova. – It is more difficult to make a rock garden with your own hands, but it has a more pronounced relief, height and stands out on the site not only in summer, but also in winter. The arrangement of rockeries or rock gardens is good because it does not require compliance with strict geometric shapes or uniform, generally accepted design schemes. It’s an exciting creative process. But some rules of creation are still worth knowing.
We select stones
It is desirable that the alpine slide does not consist of boulders and run-in stones (with the exception of rock gardens near water bodies), but of rough and broken ones. For example, it can be tuff, sandstone, limestone, granite or shale. In one composition, it is desirable to combine no more than two rocks, otherwise the rock garden will look unnatural. Stones need to be chosen in different sizes: at the base of the slide, larger ones are usually used, and at the top – combinations of small stones or the most original, unusual stone. It is better to take stones of several shades – they look more impressive in the composition than the monotonous “granite” color.
What plants to plant?
If you follow strict rules, then, of course, you need to plant plants of alpine origin: miniature conifers, shrubs, ground cover, bulbous and herbaceous perennials. But you can treat the choice more democratically.
Look for plants that are squat (height up to 60 cm), unpretentious and, of course, decorative. On the northern slope it is better to plant shade-tolerant plants: tenacious, periwinkle, fern, bergenia and others. On the southern slope, respectively, light-loving plants grow better: lavender, barberry, adonis, iris, acena, ornamental onion and others. Perfectly fit into the “mountain ensemble” evergreens, such as mountain pine, Canadian spruce, juniper and others.
It is desirable that the plants of your rock garden retain their decorative effect throughout the season, otherwise the withered leaves will spoil the whole composition, and it is unlikely that it will be possible to hide them behind the flowering “neighbors”. For this reason, it is good to use long-lived perennials in the design of an alpine slide. For example, saxifrages are compact and slow growing, forming cushions or mats pressed into the surrounding rocks. They will decorate the garden for a long time.
Building a rock garden
First you need to choose a place for your future rock garden. Having decided, draw a diagram where you first plan the location of stones and planting plants. In short, the technology for creating an alpine slide consists of the following steps. It is necessary to mark the contour, remove the sod. Then fill up the drainage layer. Then prepare fertile soil and fill it up. And move on to the main stage – the erection of the core of the hill. Construction begins with laying the most beautiful and largest boulders around the perimeter of the future rock garden. Stones should lie as stable as possible. To do this, they need to be placed on the ground with the largest side and, if necessary, put smaller support stones under them or add gravel or soil. At the top of the hill, you can put one large or two medium stones. When constructing an alpine slide, do not forget to leave enough space for planting plants. At the end of construction, it is important to water the slide abundantly and leave it for a couple of weeks to shrink. Then we plant the plants. Planting plants should start from the top, gradually going down. Pour the finished hill again with water, washing the earth off the stones. And the last, very important touch. You can sprinkle the hill with pebbles, gravel or rubble where necessary for strengthening, install decor – garden figures, solar-powered lanterns and other beauty.
Care involves weeding, removing dried inflorescences and rare watering. As in any other place on the site, weeds may appear on the alpine hill. It is important to regularly weed them out so that they do not destroy cultivated plants. Weeds can be annual or perennial. The most dangerous are annuals, such as wood lice, bluegrass, and perennials: dandelion, field bindweed, common gout and others. Remove weeds carefully, trying not to disturb the integrity of the slide itself and to preserve the roots of cultivated plants as much as possible. Fertilize the alpine hill with phosphate and potash fertilizers, but not often – only to prepare for winter. To protect against frost in winter, plants are covered with shavings, spruce branches or burlap, coniferous trees are pulled together so that their branches do not break off under the weight of snow. When it falls, you need to constantly maintain a snow cover on the hill to help the plants overwinter without problems.
7 rules for choosing a place
1. It is desirable that the rock garden is located in a sunny place. Of course, you can organize it in a shaded area, but then the choice of flora will be limited – you will have to plant only shade-tolerant plants.
2. Try to equip the slide where there are no strong gusts of wind.
3. It is good if the composition is placed so that it can be seen from different sides. Over time, you, like all your guests, will appreciate this plus.
4. The arrangement of an alpine slide near a house or other buildings is undesirable, since the flower garden can sag and be damaged from melting snow or a drop.
5. A rock garden against the background of a fence is also far from the best idea, but if you can’t find another place, then, for example, bushes planted along the fence will help to ennoble the background of the slide. And you can draw fashionable graffiti on the fence, which will support the design of plants on the hill with their pattern.
6. If the site has uneven terrain created by nature, then this is the best option for a rock garden.
7. The most suitable places to create a slide are the front area, a recreation area (near the gazebo, barbecue, pool, pond), backyard, as well as any rocky retaining walls.
Ekaterina Volkova: “Let’s evaluate our slide in 5 years”
The actress got a plot of 25 acres three years ago, and during this time she turned it into a blooming garden. And last year a rock garden appeared at the dacha. “I came up with a slide to close the view from the porch to the house opposite. The hill was covered with pine bark mulch – and the decor is beautiful, and retains moisture, and saves from weeds. The bath and pool area was fenced off with thujas, fir was planted near the horizontal bar, juniper, mountain pine, again thuja were added to the flower garden, and everything sparkled with other colors. How interesting it is to invent your own garden! And this is just the beginning, I imagine what will happen here in five years.
So much time, they say, is needed for the hill to shine with all its colors and show all its capabilities, ”said Ekaterina. Berries, vegetables, fruit trees, and, of course, many flowers grow on the actress’s plot. Favorites among them are roses. “Last year my mother and I planted forty roses. And now I just enjoy their sight and smell!” Volkov is not going to stop there. “This winter I want to plant eustoma seedlings. It looks like a rose, but even more delicate, which is why it is often used in wedding bouquets.”