Rock Gardens / Mediterranean Gardens

ROCK GARDENS contribute a natural, rugged beauty to the landscape, and contain plants from mountainous, alpine regions. Steep hillside and gravelly sites with poor soil, but sufficient drainage, are often very suited to this style. A natural slope or terrace is ideal, but even small troughs can feature alpine rock gardens. Boulders and rocks are liberally incorporated, ideally set similarly to how they would be in their natural environment. Depending on the plants chosen, rock gardens can be dry gardens, or may need more supplemental water. Colorful, mounded or cascading perennials are combined with low shrubs and dwarf conifers to create a harmonious planting. Most rock garden plants have low to moderate water needs once established. Good drainage is essential. Weed control is very important, particularly until plants are established and have filled in. 

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Beautiful rock garden detail, owner’s garden, in early June

Beautiful rock garden detail, owner’s garden, in early June

 

BOULDERS / ROCKS: It is best to use rocks of one geological type. An effective rock garden should have several large rocks, some weighing 200 pounds or more. Set the rock into the ground so at least one-third is buried. Place rocks in a natural way, following the grain of the rock. Position rocks to control soil erosion between rocks, and to allow soil pockets of various sizes for plants. Use smaller, similar rock or pea gravel as mulch.

Residential Rock Garden Retreat

This residential backyard consisted of a curved concrete path and gravelly, sandy soil prior to planting. The owners desired a garden without lawn, therefore a drought-tolerant rock garden planting with Mediterranean elements was selected. Raised or bermed beds and borders frame a secondary gravel path south of the existing sidewalk.

 BEFORE PHOTO
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A blank slate with a curving concrete path

A blank slate with a curving concrete path

 AFTER PHOTOS
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Flourishing plantings accompany the curving concrete path along the residence, in late June, four years after planting

Flourishing plantings accompany the curving concrete path along the residence, in late June, four years after planting

A wider view of the same scene

A wider view of the same scene

Bermed plantings hug the raked gravel path, in late June

Bermed plantings hug the raked gravel path, in late June

 

MEDITERRANEAN-STYLE GARDENS come in all shapes and forms, and may be terraced hillsides, cozy courtyard gardens or grand estates. This is a perfect type of garden for dry, rocky soil in full sun. Interesting, scented foliage and masses of brilliant, persistent flower color in summer evoke memories of Provence and Italy. Mediterranean-style gardens generally consist primarily of plants accustomed to hot, dry conditions, and therefore need less supplemental water than most other gardens, once established. Italianate garden features and colorful containers complement this garden style. Fountains or other water features contribute refreshing life and pleasing sound to the garden.

Mediterranean Garden:

This Mediterranean-style courtyard in The Dalles, Oregon contained an existing swimming pool prior to landscape installation.  After completion of extensive home renovations, a tiered stucco wall frames the west side of the finished courtyard, and blends with the new home.  Coordinated plantings strengthen the Mediterranean feel.

 BEFORE PHOTOS
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Before view, facing west

Before view, facing west

Home renovations have nearly been completed, December

Home renovations have nearly been completed, December

 

 AFTER PHOTOS
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Less than a year later, fall-blooming Asters and Ornamental Grasses brighten the new courtyard landscape, in October

Less than a year later, fall-blooming Asters and Ornamental Grasses brighten the new courtyard landscape, in October

North-facing view of the renovated home and colorful border, late October

North-facing view of the renovated home and colorful border, late October

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