I have rocks scattered around the garden for the most banal of reasons – I need them to step on.Yesterday afternoon I was out in the alpines, cutting down stalks and seedheads, and noticed the rocks as a structural element once again. They are lovely peeping out between lush branches of myrhh or half covered with campanula, but they really come into their own when the fickle vegetation subsides under a frost.
They also mitigate our harsh climate, parceling out the change from 10 degrees to 40 over the course of a January afternoon into smaller, gentler increments.
Some of the rocks are spectacular specimens all on their own. . .
. . . and some are simply a sturdy, not unattractive place to put your foot while weeding.
I found this beautiful pale upright while digging a carrot bed. It has taken a few years of wind and weather to expose its true colors.
And this one, again, is just a stepping stone. Can you imagine my wooden clogs on that seedum carpet? No, you cannot.
Heath and heather require top-notch drainage. In this climate it’s not even the cold that kills these plants, it is wet roots and layers of clay. I dig a fairly deep hole (2′ for a 4″ pot) and fill it with large rocks and sand before planting a member of this family in a peaty hollow at the surface. My oldest plants have survived 15 winters here and thrived.
This rock isn’t really visible in the summer, hedged in by daylilies and Bouncing Bet. In this season it’s sculpture.
Winter is coming – the best time of year for collecting more rocks. I can hardly wait!