Rock garden highlights

Wow, spring is going by fast. Another couple weeks and it will be full on summer. Let’s take a look at some highlights from the rock gardens. Starting in the back, with the newest rock garden.

Back rock garden, May 2024

This has come a long way since almost three years ago.

Back rock garden, August 2021

Time to appreciate the progress that has been made.

California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) 'Red Chief'
Sidalcea nelsoniana, Eschscholzia californica, and Eriophyllum lanatum

Yellow seems to be the theme this spring.

Aquilegia chrysantha
Arenaria montana 'Winter Lemon'

I’m was thrilled to see my Triteleia crocea blooming for the first time. Now to get seed. The chipmunks have been nipping the Lupinus bicolor plants at the base and then leaving the stems to dry in the sun – you can see shriveled leaves at the top right and bottom left. Very annoying. They also nipped a newly planted Aconitum columbianum that I didn’t think would get bothered because it is so toxic. Nope, they got that too. @%$#!!!.

Triteleia crocea, gosh I like this one a lot
Eriophyllum lanatum with Geranium oreganum in the background
I never noticed the darker yellow circle in the center before
Ranuculus gramineus
Ranunculus gramineus
Laburnum resprouted and now blooming after being cut to the ground in 2021.

I’ve not had good success starting eriogonums from seed. I get them to germinate, but then they disappear soon after that. Luckily, the cuttings taken in late winter seem to work moderately well.

Eriogonum umbellatum, a favorite native
Eriogonum sphaerocephalum var sublineare

Adorable new pads on this mini opuntia, with ephemeral, pink, claw-like leaves. These leaves will fall off as soon as the pad matures.

Opuntia with Ceanothus cuneatus var. ramulosus 'Rodeo Lagoon'
Lewisia cotyledon
Lewisia cotyledon, orange form
Allium anceps, native

This California buckeye (Aesculus californica) has been frustratingly slow, growing only a few millimeters per year. I fertilize the heck out of it, but it doesn’t budge.

I thought I would intimidate it into growing faster by planting a red buckeye (Aesculus pavia) right next to it. But, then I read that A. pavia requires constant moisture. Sigh. One of those plants that I buy thinking it likes one condition, but then find out it prefers another. So, it got moved closer to the creek.

Evergreen candytuft (Iberis sempervirens). I will always remember Paul Bonine at Xera Plants calling this the cottage cheese plant. Made me like it even more.

Moving now into the front rock garden. My dwarf tanbark oak (Notholithocarpus densiflorus var. echinoides) up and died suddenly a few weeks ago after making it through last summer and winter seemingly okay. Another late winter casualty? Hoping it wasn’t Phytophthora root rot as I planted another one in its place. Nemophila menziesii ‘Penny Black’ and Anthyllis vulneria in the background.

Anthyllis vulneria
Picea abies 'Acrocona Pusch'
Silene uniflora

Now, on to the side rock garden, Balsaltica. Not sure what is going on here, but a whole bunch of branches died on my little Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Hage’. I am completely flummoxed as this should have been very winter hardy. No insect damage that I could see either. I’ve since pruned the dead branches out, which didn’t leave much left, but maybe it will be salvageable as a more bonsai-form specimen. In the meantime, I will keep an eye out for another miniature conifer as a replacement.

Aeithionema graniflorum
Prolific, but cute with lots of color variations, Linaria alpina
Iberis taurica
Sedum spathulifolium
Sedum spathulifolium
Dianthus 'White Crown' and Allium falcifolium (native)
Allium falcifolium

One of my favorite native sedums, Sedum spathulifolium ssp. purdyi. You may remember I saw this on my California botanizing trip a few years ago (here). This one likes some protection from hot sun.

I’ll end with a photo of Viola tricolor ‘King Henry’. Time to get out and garden. The warm weather is calling me!

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Kris P

    I can only hope that my new succulent bed will fill out half as well as your rock garden in 3 years. The Picea and Anthyllis vulneria are very cool plants.

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      I imagine it will look pretty bedraggled by September, but I am enjoying the lushness while it lasts. The Anthyllis is a pretty plant, though a bit assertive. I usually end up yanking out the plants as they go to seed so that they don’t pop up everywhere. The cones on the Picea are the best part as the plant itself is a bit unkempt for my tastes – like early morning hair before it gets coiffed.

  2. Tracy

    Wow, what a difference! You’ve done a fantastic garden here. So many gorgeous speciments, I really love the Anthyllis vulneria.

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      The Anthyllis is very vibrant. A nice pop of color with a few variations ranging through orange. It’s almost done blooming now, so I need to yank the mature plants before they seed all over the place. It’s always informative to remind myself how much things have changed in just a few years.

  3. Oh, I love to see before and after comparisons! And all the plants look lovely, healthy, and happy. 🙂

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      I finally have enough pictures over time to show before and after. I still think of it as a new, unfinished rock garden, but wow, what a difference a few years makes.

  4. S.

    Isn’t it wonderful to have a spring this year? Everything looks great! That native Allium is interesting as is Anthyllis vulneria, what a cool looking plant even though I’m not that into red. The mini Iberis is super cute as well.

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      Yeah, I’ve been reveling in the fantastic weather and being out in the garden. It is such a mood booster. Not into red? What colors do you prefer in your garden?

      1. S.

        I prefer purples, blues, magenta, pale yellow and lime green. (ignoring my 6ft salvia hot lips and the red dahlias, begonias and tiny columbine I just bought 😆) I don’t dislike a good classic red, have no objection to oranges and pinks in the right situations. Red is hard for me because it has so many variations and undertones that sometimes don’t play well with others. When they’re off, omg, so awful. Some of the orange-y ones are just impossible. And also, some of them just disappear from a distance.

  5. Chavli

    Aren’t ‘Before’ and ‘After’ photos the best? I love how good the wet black rock looks with the green goodness above.
    I’d love to get my hands on orange Lewisia; I often end up with something pink or coral… not going to rip them out but still lusting after that illusive orange bloom.
    A fan of conifers, you had me with “Picea abies ‘Acrocona Pusch'”! Such striking colorful cones… beautiful.
    As the spring went on, I realized my beautiful tree-year old chief Josef pine was dead. It has been a cherished purchase and its loss was tough to take, but that’s gardening for you… making room for something new.

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      The orange lewisia was from the Rare Plant Research sale in Oregon City, last year. I just realized how many of them are shades of pink, and I just realized how rare it is to have an orange lewisia, not to mention orange as a color in the garden for this time of year. – most everything else is shades of white, pink, purple, or yellow with a few reds.

      All that black will get pretty hot in the summer, but it is the rock that is easiest and cheapest to get locally, and fits the feel the site. The summer heat loving plants are going to love it.

      Conifers are a favorite of mine, though I am always trying to find true miniatures that don’t grow so fast. The “cones” comment reminds me that I have a small Abies koreana ‘Gait’ that I need to move to a sunnier spot and to see if it developed any cones yet. How weird that your Chief Joseph died. That seems like it would be super hardy for us. I do appreciate the conifers with a golden touch more and more, particularly in late winter, early spring when there isn’t much else for color.

  6. danger garden

    WOW! There’s a lot to love in these gardens (Balsaltica, ha!), of course that little opuntia is just too cute! Like a puppy.

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      Yeah, I seem to have set patterns in the way I think and name things. I adore my little mini opuntias. They are good rock garden companions.

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