Rockery garden plants have three common characteristics;
Rockery plants need soil which is both water and air permeable. Rockery plants do not thrive in water logged conditions, e.g. in clay rich soils -If you are to grow rockery plants in clay soils then you must ensure that it is well drained This can only be achieved by using compost With that said you will then attract wildlife and get plenty of photo opportunities.
There are basically two groups of rockery plants;
Plants for dry positions with plenty of sun
Plants for shady positions with moist soils and high humidity.
These two groups can be combined together in large rockeries. Large rocks, artificially designed hollows and sunken paths will provide shay spots that can be planted with varieties that prefer cool positions. A rockery with water will be very humid while beds edged with bushes or trees are not ideal for rockery plants because of the shade and dry conditions.
Wildlife In A Rockery
Many creatures colonise a perfectly balanced rockery. The ecological equilibrium will be determined by the conditions of the position, and by the presence of suitable plants and rocks. Rockeries, garden ponds and drystone can all develop into balanced biotypes that can support wildlife. Creatures such as slow worms or lizards, frogs and toads will colonize damp hollows and beside pools of water. Birds may build their nests on cushion plants and spaces between rocks or stones. Shrews look for shelter and food in the rockery and build their homes there.
Planning a rockery
Careful planning is necessary if you want rockery garden to captivate the eyes off passers by. You will need to design the landscape, prepare the soil and select the right position.
You can use the soil that is excavated when a house is being built or landscape modelling. Soil that is left after digging out a pond is ideal for creating a rockery.
Choice of position
You must select an ideal position to prepare the soil. You must scrutinise all areas in your garden, paying particular attention to sloping positions as they are an ideal terrain for rockery design. Level areas close to a garden or patio are also suitable for rockery plants.
Soil preparation is essential if you are going to have a beautiful rockery. Determine the soil structure by using your hand. Sand soil sifts easily through the fingers, loamy soil stick while the clay soils are normally very hard and lumpy.
You can use a tester kit to determine the numeral content of the soil or alternatively you can send your garden soil to a specialist who can test it for you, although this may cost you.
Soil that has high lime content is most suitable for rockery plants. The lime factor determines the pH factor of the soils. Remove all weeds from the soil before you plant the rockery plants and ensure that the soil is well drained.
If the soil is too compacted then there is a great need to install a drainage layer. The garden compost and a small quantity of hoof and horn help to improve the quality of the soil.