We talked about alpine plants a few weeks ago – I’m sure keen readers will remember. In that piece, we touched on the idea of a rockery and so we thought that now would be a good opportunity to revisit this treasured garden design of the eighties, and give it a little millennial twist.

Today’s piece comes to you in the form of a Garden Style Company guide to installing your very own rock garden.

Why a rockery?
Rockeries add lots of interest and mean you can grow a really unusual and diverse rage of plants. They’re also brilliant for covering up any dodgy bits you might have lurking in your garden too.

Think of a rockery like a mini slice of a far-off land. Creating this very specific sort of environment in miniature means you can recreate the mountains of the alps in your own back yard.

Choose your site
It’s best to choose the perfect site to situate your new rockery with a little knowledge in mind. If you remember that alpine plants grow naturally with access to tons of natural light, and that they need really well-draining growing conditions, then this will help you to work out the best site and structure. Keep clear of trees or tall shrubs that could block the light.

Sourcing rocks from your local area will make your rockery look natural and in keeping with your surroundings. Alternatively, look for reclaimed rocks or try your garden centre. Work out how many you will need by deciding on a rough overall size first.

Once you’ve hauled your rock supply home, position them so that you create interest with a variety of angles. You also need a good range of differently sized rocks so you can fill in any major gaps. Finally, make sure everything is very securely positioned – the last thing you need is a massive rock falling on your foot as you tend your rockery plants.

Perfect plants for your rockery
Alpines are a little different from your bog-standard border plants. Alpines are tough little things that grow extensive, and very long roots both in order to find the nutrients and water they need, and to anchor themselves to the rock face. Make sure you position all your plants before you pop them in. Dig a hole for each plant a little wider than the root system. Gently tease out the roots from the root ball and prepare to be amazed at how long they are already. Pop each plant in then water generously and feed. Because alpines can be particularly drought-happy, remember not to include them in your watering schedule and do make sure they don’t become water-logged.

An alternative
You could create a mini rockery in a container or trough. You will need to make sure the container has excellent drainage then pack a generous layer of broken crockery, or small stones in the bottom; alpines do not like soggy roots.

Go on, get out there and start planning your own rockery!