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Rock plants are normally open to the light of the sky, although not to the full power of the sun. Many sites are in partial shade because of buildings or tall trees. These places are not good ideas for rock garden sites. No special skill is needed for placing the rocks or any statuary, as these will not deter the growth. The shade is needed to keep the temperature and keep moisture in the soil.

If the natural soil in the area is clay or sand, or is very hard, it needs to be removed to a depth of one foot, and replace it with the usual rock garden soil recipe, included extra vegetable fiber and leaf mold. The creation of a rock garden is to imitate conditions in rocky woods, in a miniature form.

As the summer rains may not be enough for the survival of your manufactured garden, it is a good idea to thoroughly soak the garden twice a month during July and August. Watering and weeding are all important after care procedures. Depending on the type of rock garden, it will determine what type of plants you will use.

Plants that need full sun or are alkali will not thrive in a rock garden, so we must bring out plants from the woodland flora. You need to have native plants that are already suited for this purpose. By using flowers in the wild, you already know how they thrive, as they indicate if they need shade. Ferns, not over a foot in stature, will work very well. Flowers will occur mostly in the spring season, but the leaves will occur throughout the season.

It is wonderful to add contrast and variety to have this woodland garden adjoin the true rock garden, and a new plant which dies in one area may thrive in the other. Or this planting may be built anywhere in the woods where rocks can be placed under trees, and nature will take a large part of the burden of the after care. There is no winter protection, for frost heaving is impossible.

This is, then, the simplest kind of rock planting, but the difficulty comes in making special choice of the plants. You can dig many of these woodland plants from the woods of our northern states, but it is cheaper and easier as a rule to buy from dealers in native plants. From our southern forests or the Rockies the list would be quite different. Suggested plants to use near woodland and water areas are:

  • Anemone apennina, Apennine Anemone
  • Blanda, Greek Anemone
  • Nemorosa, European Wood Anemone
  • Quinquefolia, American Wood Anemone
  • Ranunculoides, Buttercup Anemone, etc.
  • Anemonella thalictrioides, Rue Anemone
  • Asarum canadense, Canadian Wildginger
  • Caudatum, Longtail Wildginger
  • Europaeum, European Wildginger, etc.
  • Asclepias quadrifolia, Fourleaf Milkweed
  • Asperula odorata, Sweet Woodruff
  • Chimaphila maculata, Striped Pipsissewa
  • Umbellata, Common Pipsissewa
  • Cimicifuga japonica, Japanese Bugbane
  • Simplex, Kamchatka Bugbane
  • Claytonia caroliniana, Carolina Springbeauty
  • Virginica, Springbeauty
  • Cornus canadensis, Bunchberry
  • Cypripedium californicum, California Ladyslipper
  • Candidum, White Ladyslipper
  • Montanum, Mountain Ladyslipper