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New Garden Rockery Guidance

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Hello there! 

I’m struggling to work out how I can create a seamless rockery next to my  small wildlife pond.  

My garden is totally slabbed apart from x2 (15 inch) strips of poor clay soil.  The garden faces south -west and is fairly well sheltered by 6ft fences and a newly planted hawthorn hedge - just for the birds!  All my gardening is done in containers… not looking for a lawn, but I am about to plant ‘Mind your own business’ in between the paving slabs. 

The small wildlife pond  (only 12 months old but has smooth newts and frogs)  has a few rocks around it, a log pile and wild area one one side of it, (ferns / grasses etc)  but I’m looking to build a rockery on the other side of it. 

I’d appreciate any thoughts/ ideas on how to make it look as though there’s always been a rockery there?  Many Thanks! 

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Hi There Standby Nan!

Firstly welcome to the forum and great question. I don't often get asked about rockeries which I have a secret love of. Reminds me of my grandad's old garden. 

It looks like you've been working hard to turn your paved slabs into an oasis for wildlife which many new gardeners could take some inspiration from!

How to create a realistic rockery: The main aim is to help the rockery blend in with its surrounding. Which I would argue is the trickiest part. It's easy just to stack up the rocks in one corner and then plant a few random succulents, aplines or saxifraga in there.

Looking at your pics I'd take the rockery right up to the flags. Be bold and intentful. Most rockeries fail as they are roo 'bitty' or small to make an impact. If you want to link the pond to the rockery which would make sense then bringing it up to the paving would help give it impact.

Other top rockery tips: You should still follow my planting techniques that I use in herbaceous borders. With any garden the keys to success with plants/design are:

  • Repetition - repeat colours or textures throughout. Stick to a few rather than hundreds
  • Plant in multiples of 3, 5 or 7 - avoid one offs unless a specimen
  • Go big in small gardens - its better to do one thing well than three things poorly

Have a look at the image below I took at Kew gardens of their rockery. What do we notice? Repetition and layers. The same plants used on mass. Even in a small garden you can repeat plants to give that look. Layers and some height always helps especially with a small suitable shrub near the back that can add some height for you. Having one of these as a specimen could be a good idea.

Here's my planting guide to help you as well Standby Nana. Enjoy!

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Hello Lee! 

First of all huge apologies - I thought I’d sent this reply days ago, when you replied to my question.

Secondly, thank you for your advice … I’m on the case!  I’m not sure I’m going to finish it before the beginning of term though… so I’ll just have to take it one lump of rock at a time! 

Thanks again

Standby Nana 

 

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