As I get back into the garden again, I thought I'd explore the idea of a rock garden. This idea is growing in popularity and it's really a fun theme that requires very little maintenance once the set up is complete. The expensive component is the rock used. If you move to the desert, you may notice the lack of lawns and an increase of rock or pebble mulch. Rock doesn't have to be boring and if organized properly, this garden can be the star attraction of your home or frontyard. There are several ideas behind the general term, "Rock Garden". When I think attractive, I think of the above pic. Strong colored rocks mixed with agaves, aloes, grasses, cacti, several groundcovers like the ice plant, wildflowers, or succulents are excellent choices for this type of design. Strong rock design with structural plants create a really bold statement. Whatever you choose, remember to keep water similiar plants together. For example, you may not want to put cacti next to succulents as succulents require a bit more water. Similarly, keep all sunny plants together in one spot. Wildflowers look amazing in this kind of garden.
There's even a more sterile type of garden known as the Japanese Rock Garden. Talk about low maintenance! It's not the typical "rake your gravel" in the Arizona desert. Instead, think of it as a way to add grace through elegant design around rock formations. It's very zen and relaxes the body and mind. It's not for everyone, but it is a unique form of rock gardening that is also gaining popularity in the Old Pueblo. No plants to very little plants are used for this design. If a plant is used, it wouldn't be the focal point but off to the side away from the rock design.
Here in Tucson, we are very lucky to be able to choose from a great selection of structural plants. What do you think? Do you have a rock garden? Do you like this design? Would you have one in your own landscape?