Between a Rock and a Hard Place

CIMG1502The revamped rockery has come on a bundle since it was replanted in February and even more since it was stripped, on a whim, of the resident ferns way back in August last year. I may look out over it every time I gaze out of the kitchen windows (which happens frequently) but I had not appreciated quite how much it has filled out in only a relatively short period of time and almost all of the new plants are flowering or have already done so. The only one struggling is Geranium cinereum ‘Ballerina’ which was only planted a few weeks ago, but seems to suffer from being at path level and more perhaps more open to attack by whatever likes to attack petite geraniums.

From the left, the entrenched ajuga pours happily over the steps, and Campanula major sprawls comfortably in front of Geranium sanguineum ‘Compact’, both just starting to come into flower.


Sedum album ‘Coral Carpet’ is covered in tiny white blobs – so will the carpet be white, or coral pink? Definitely pink, and similar shades of pink, are Saponaria ocymoides ‘Tumbling Ted’ and Erodium ‘Bishop’s Form’ in the foreground, whilst in the bottom right corner is the stump of ‘Ballerina’, still clinging on to her dancing career.

CIMG1504The tiny Rhododendron ‘Wren’ did not flower this year, but is still healthy underneath the silky leaves of the pretty Alchemilla alpina, and Lewisia ‘Little Plum’ seems happy enough tucked underneath an outcrop, having flowered a several weeks earlier.


Finally, Dianthus ‘Sherbert’ is ready to fizz, whilst the tongue-twistingly named Campanula poscharskyana ‘Lisduggan’ is sending out long stems with pale lilac bells, and the old faithful thrift (‘Armada’)and sedum (sexangulare) do their stuff at the right hand end. It may be that the rockery used to look as promising as this, but the self seeded ferns soon make themselves at home and much as I like to see them they would happily colonise the area again, given half a chance, so I will need to be vigilant and remove them before they become too established.


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22 Responses to Between a Rock and a Hard Place

    • Cathy says:

      I have earlier pictures of them without moss – about 2000 or so, the year 2000 that is, not 2000 mossy rocks 🙂

  1. That’s some rockery Cathy – it’s hardly surprising you look at it from the window. As we get a closer look you have special lovely little plants growing away happily. I hope your geranium settles in eventually.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Angie, and yet I neglected it for a few years and hadn’t really noticed the ferns had taken over 😉

  2. It really looks like a well-established garden, very full and healthy, and I second the comment about the moss.

    • Cathy says:

      The fact we have created it from ‘scratch’ makes it even more a labour of love, so really it is only about 13 years old but has undergone various transitions even in that time – but the last couple of years has seen it really burgeon, now I have more time to nurture it

  3. Cathy the rockery has come along well and is looking good, I like the mossy stones as well, does the moss ever get out of hand? unfortunately it does here, I’m curious about your sedum coral carpet as it looks like your foliage is green, I have one with bronze foliage, I didn’t know you could get rhododendrons small enough for rock gardens, it’s nice to have nice views of the garden from the house isn’t it, Frances

    • Cathy says:

      I must look up ‘Coral Carpet’, as I had just copied the original label – you think it is the leaves that should be pink? The moss easily comes off the rocks (and the path) if need be, probably because it is not consistently damp. I did wonder whether to remove the moss when I was replanting the rockery, but I am glad I decided not to! The garden slopes from side to side and back to front, so when we built the extension there was a natural change of height at the back and it made sense to utilise it for this rockery.

      • Cathy, my coral carpet has pink flowers but the foliage is bronze (brown), the label says it starts green and turns bronze but I’ve not yet seen any green just bronze I’ll take a photo and include in my next blog post, I was just curious as all the foliage of yours looks bright green, perhaps it has something to do with soil and/or weather conditions, Frances

  4. Annette says:

    There’s something utterly charming about rock gardens and I can spend hours in an alpine house like the one in Wisley, admiring all these dear little creatures with their delicate foliage and flowers. Time to shrink as good old Beverley Nichols used to say…so true 🙂

    • Cathy says:

      Had to Google Beverley Nichols, you being more knowledgable than me… 😉 They need to be in the right place though, don’t they, and not just for the sake of having one. I haven’t yet been to Wisley, but am visiting Elder Daughter in Surrey in a week or two and keep meaning to check how far she is from Wisley

  5. Tim says:

    Thank you for another glimpse of your wonderful garden, and I can only agree with the previous comments about the mossy rocks, they really look like they have been there forever. You’ve given me ideas about creating my own mossy outcrop, if only I could persuade the truly awful celandine to go away!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Tim – we were fortunate that the rocks were in the garden (in various places!) when we bought the property, but I don’t know where they originated from. Parts of the property are 200+ years old, so the rocks could have been brought from somewhere else at any time, or brought to the surface on adjacent farming land (or from an old Priory a mile or so away?). The celandine in our woodland edge border has disappeared till next year, before I got round to dealing with it! I will email you a copy of the article in Which? Gardening which I have mentioned.

  6. croftgarden says:

    Please don’t be too hard on the ferns they are splendid! Your dainty ballerina may be in need of drier feet and a little sunshine.

    • Cathy says:

      Oh no, I love them too, and the ones I took out last year as they had outgrown their welcome I moved to the woodland – I love the way they just appear on crevices and on the face of the rocks.I think you might be right about the location of the dancer – she was belatedly plonked in the only remaining gap and doesn’t deserve that lack of respect really, so I might put her in the edge of a border instead.

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