Creative project – rebuilding the rockery

The sad state of the rockery when we moved in.

So our first view of the so-called rockery wasn’t very inspiring. But I was 8 months pregnant at the time, and not at all interested in doing anything physical.

Fast forward two years, and the first flush of spring had me elbow deep in the soil and loving every minute.  I decided it was time to change that dull corner into something with a little more pop.  But it isn’t our garden, and I had no intention of pouring money into it.  Still, I was sure with a little creative relocation of some of the plants from the rest of the garden, we could come up with something lovely and low-cost.

Step one was to pull out all the rocks.  We dived in and boy did we get a surprise.  I thought we had about 15 rocks to work with, but there were many, many more buried deep in the soil.  We ended up with nearly 40 rocks to play with.

All those rocks were buried under years of neglect.

The yellowy mass on top of the soil that you can see in the photo is a root mass from the foxtail palm next door.  Those roots would have sucked all the moisture from the soil.  It’s no wonder everything was dead!  But the palm is now gone, so new plants have a chance.

I didn’t need to buy fertiliser, as we have a compost heap in the far corner, which produced several litres of lovely rich, dark compost.  I dug that through the soil for a couple of days, watered it down and let it sit.

Unfortunately I forgot to take photos when we were replacing the rocks!  But it took us a couple of hours to place them in a way that small pockets of soil were created.  This is the secret to a successful rock garden.  The soil is covered mostly by rocks and foliage, and the roots dig down deep under the rocks so they are always cool and damp.  If you build a rockery right, it will last through the toughest summer.

Once we had the rocks in to our liking, we started to plant out.  I ended up spending $40 on 6 plants.  The rest were scavenged from other parts of the garden.

Placing plants

This shot shows most of the plants already in.  The daylillies (the green strappy things, for the non-gardeners) will be magnificent next year – they love the heat and the sun.  The pink heath at the back left will end up about 60cm high and cover that corner in a draping pink mass in a year or two.  There are a couple of plants with grey-green foliage for contrast (the Eremophila, the Dianthus and the wormwood) And right at the front, a big, showy orange Gerbera.

One final session of work to clear the border on the left side, and the bed was done.

The finished product.

It will take time for the plants to grow and fill the spaces, to create a pleasing pattern of rock and foliage.  But even at this early stage, you can see the shape of the garden to come.

Light and shade, hard and soft, green and brown. A rockery is a study in contrasts.

Gardening, like writing, is a process of putting work and inspiration in to create something lasting.  I’ll be talking more about this next week as a guest poster at Iggy and Gabi’s DIY MFA.

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5 thoughts on “Creative project – rebuilding the rockery

  1. What Natasha said! I have two purple Lantanas next to the pond and if I don’t trim them back every two weeks our walkway disappears. It will take no time at all for your garden to fill in. However, even in its infancy I think it is absolutely stunning and I hope you share pictures once the plants meet up with maturity.

    I’m looking forward to guest post next week!

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