Creating a garden is not always as easy as it looks like; expecially when you intend to create a special garden.
A rockery is a speciality garden and to make it right you’ll have to go through a lot of trial and error but the end result (end result? a rockery is a never ending story) makes it worthwhile.
To avoid starting up problems/errors a few general guidelines:
1) Soil must have good drainage.
2) Create slopes which, in cases of flood rain, let the overload of water drain away.
3) Arrange rocks in such a way that sensitive plants are protected against wind, rain and sun
4) When choosing plants you must have a good idea of what you want; large plants, small plants, colours. Advise: do not buy and plant all at once. Better is to start with a few focal points and - as in the ongoing process ideas can change – buy and add with intervals the ‘filling up’.
5) Choose plants which are suitable for the local environment. Some plants can also kept in pots which you can cover up with rocks. Handy in case you move to another location and also a necessity for some plants in certain local environments. Maybe it’s even advisable to keep all the plants in pots so you can shuffle them around for a month or so in order to get a better idea of the look of your rockery from diverse angles. The disadvantage of plants in pots is that you will have to re-pot them every 2 to 3 years and that they won’t grow that fast as in the open.
6) Composition of the garden is essential. Always try to find a balance between shapes, colours and flowering seasons. A rockery should be attractive the whole year.
7) The art of making a rockery is that you are able to create a personal one with an own sphere. To achieve this you should visit and look into as many rockeries as possible and talk with the makers. This is a big help for you can learn of the trials and errors of others and you get a better insight in your own idea with all possibilities and especially the impossibilities. It surely will avoid a lot of misery although you will never be able to avoid all. And sometimes it’s good to go against every logical thinking. In this orientating process your original idea will mature into a unique rockery, whatever the size of it.
See also Landscaping a rockery PART 2