Traditional rock and alpine gardens are garden surprises. They pair rocks with collections of miniature plants from alpine regions, many of which are often rare, prized plants. The photos below show how delightful and charming traditional rock and alpine garden ideas can be.
A fine example of the widely appealing alpine and dwarf plant garden, this charming and diverse planting has each plant spaced and positioned so that it may be individually inspected. Alpine gardens, a rock garden subtype, contain collections of miniature plants from alpine regions, usually planted on a slope composed of rocky scree.
The traditional rock garden idea plays with scale by recreating a landscape in miniature. Rocks can seem like boulders or even mountains surrounded by a collection of low-growing plants, which may include annuals, perennials, shrubs, bulbs, or succulents. This garden displays a great deal of color in a small space by combining alyssum, aubretia, creeping phlox, and the tiny succulent Sedum spathulifolium.
In this traditional rock garden idea, carpets of emerald-green moss, brightly flowering aubretia and alyssum, and silvery, succulent sedum are tucked into pockets at different levels, allowing for an ever-changing view all the way up these rough-hewn rock steps. Without planting, the dark gray rocky outcropping could easily look bleak; when decorated with a rock garden, it takes on a softer, prettier, and more welcoming character.
Intriguing effects can be achieved by combining two styles of garden -- traditional rock garden and water garden -- in close conjunction. Here, a slope of rocky terraces supporting rock-garden plants ends with a water spout emptying into an ornamental pond. Water-loving Iris laevigata Variegata and the less-thirsty lady's mantle Alchemilla mollis can therefore be grown close to each other. The arrangement creates a lovely image as the vertical iris foliage reaches up toward the alchemilla leaves that spill over the rocky edge.
Take a look around your yard -- you may already have the start of a natural rock garden. In our final section, we'll explore natural rock garden ideas and photos.