Rock Gardens

While “Rock Gardens” is the modern name, another term used in connection with natural rock gardening is “rockeries”. The biggest problem is to determine the plants that are likely to succeed under the conditions that can be provided. There are no plants that can be counted as rock plants in every part of the country; therefore, plants must be selected for the particular locality where they are to be grown. The background or setting for the rock garden varies greatly because of the topography and character of the country. In a rough, rocky country rock garden sites are sometimes found almost ready-made, but in other sections they must be created from materials collected for the purpose. In the latter case care is necessary in order to produce a result that does not look forced or out of place. When building a house on a rocky hillside it may often be possible to reserve an adjacent area that may be made into a most attractive garden with but little modification. Even old quarries can be and are converted into attractive gardens. Where, however, such features have to be built, it takes a good student of nature to reproduce naturalistic rock ledges and other stone outcroppings. Boulders (rounded, water worn stones) may be scattered over a gentle slope, whereas on a steeper slope the stones must be placed close together, at some points even resting on one another. Even rock walls may be part of a rock garden.

Rock Walls Quarried or angular field stones often may be appropriately used to hold artificial banks. Stones with weathered faces are usually more attractive than those with newly cut or broken faces. Where there is a gentle slope, a row of stones may be placed at the bottom, with spaces between them two or three times as wide as the stones; other stones may be placed behind these spaces with the bottom as high as the tops of the front stones and back far enough to hold the soil at the desired slope. Where the bank is steep the space between the stones, often only 2″ or 3″, may be filled with soil and the next stone laid over this opening, resting on both the lower stones and set as far back as the desired slope of the wall will permit. Stones should not be uniform in size, and those more irregular in outline than is desired for building purposes make a more attractive wall. If the stone has a relatively flat upper surface, the surface should be so placed that water falling on it will drain back into the wall and not off.

Rose Gardening Tasks for Early Spring

Rose Gardening Tasks for Early Spring
Rose Gardening Tasks forEarly Spring

When should you start preparing your rose garden for the onset of spring and summer? Well, if you live in an area where you can start seeing the promise of spring in late March or early April, then you’re an “early spring” rose gardener. However, if you live where March and April still brings icy rain and snow, then just keep waiting out old man winter until your turn at spring arrives and then follow the tips in this article.

Early spring is a time of great activity in the rose garden as you prepare for the beautiful buds that will be sprouting almost any day. Here’s a summary of what needs to be done in order to prepare your roses for the tough growing season that lies ahead.

If you covered your roses with dirt or mulch, your first step is to gently remove the protective materials so you can introduce your dormant bushes to the warming spring sun and rains that lie ahead.

Before beginning your spring pruning activities, cut back any dead and damaged canes that did not survive the winter. Be sure to clear away any debris and residue from around the bushes as well.

Prepare the soil to nurture your plants by adding some organic compounds. You can either buy pre-packaged organics from your favorite garden supplier, or you can mix up your own recipe using composted manure or mushroom compost, or any of the usual meal blends which can include alfalfa, cottonseed, fish or blood meal. See below for some suggestions.

Work your soil with a spade or hoe if it has become too compacted during the winter or if you notice standing water after watering your plants. Roses require well-drained soil to thrive.

After soil preparation is done you can plant any new additions to your garden including container grown roses.

Next it is time to begin your fungicide spraying regiment either immediately or, if you prefer to wait, approximately 14 days after you complete your pruning. Opinions on the best time differ. The choice is yours.

Remember to rotate through different fungicides during the year to prevent any fungi from becoming immune to any one product.

Don’t use any pesticides unless you see evidence of damage, but remember to keep a sharp eye out for aphids which are as much a sign of spring as April showers are. Hit them with a blast of water to remove them, or apply insecticide in a mister to the affected areas.

Imagine how hungry you’d be if you just woke up from a long winter hibernation! Well, your Roses are hungry too. The best way to coax them from dormancy to budding is to feed them now and every other week through the remainder of the growing season. Water well after feeding! Feed with a fertilizer balanced for Nitrogen (N), Phosphates (P2O5) and Potash (K2O). Nitrogen stimulates the growth of leaves and canes and increases the size of the bush. Phosphate stimulates the growth of roots, canes and
stems and speeds up flowering. Potash stimulates the production of top quality blooms and improves the drought and disease resistance of the plant. A good balanced fertilizer with these elements is 10-10-10.

Another popular spring fertilizer is Osmocote which is a controlled release fertilizer that releases nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium depending on soil temperature. The 18-6-12 (8 to 9 month term) formulation is recommended for this area. Osmocote is also available with trace elements added in a product with the name of Sierra 17-6-10 Plus Minors Controlled Release Fertilizer

There! Your rose garden is ready for spring, but remember your work is far from over. If spring is near then summer can’t be far behind. Read our summer article at to learn how
to prepare your roses for the coming summer heat.