Alpine Perennials – The Perfect Rock Garden Companion

alpine perennial garden

Add a Carpet of Color to Your Rock Garden With Alpine Perennials

Alpine perennials are those small tough plants that thrive in the harsh environments of a Rocky Mountain home. They perform in the lean, alkaline clay soils, high desert aridness, bitter winters, and the hungry wildlife of western gardens. Alpines grow naturally short with deep roots to preserve their energy even through a drought situation. Alpines are very self-sustainable, requiring little care plus they provide a tightly knit weed barrier in a garden.Alpine perennials

There is a satisfying correctness when Alpines are planted in rock gardens because they go together and seem made for each other. The plants stay small to show off the rock and the massive strength of the rock acts like a protector of the flowers.

Landscaping a problem sloping hill or bench where water drains off is do-able when using the slope for a rock garden. Planting Alpine perennials in that rock garden simulates a natural mountainous site so they both look exactly as if they happened naturally. Fortunately, rocks are readily available in our mountains. Collect rocks appealing to you but also choose rocks compatible to where you live for they are easier on the back and will look more natural. Larger rocks placed at the bottom of a slope will help hold the structure. Plant the medium rocks upward to the midsection and using the smaller rocks on top will give the garden a natural evolving look. Bury at least one-third of the rock underground to anchor it firmly while keeping the grain and strata of rock running in the same direction. Adding Alpines is the finishing touch.

alpine perennials
This attractive alpine rock garden showcases mounds of color courtesy alpine perennials.

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens

The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens in Vail, Colorado is the world’s highest elevation botanic garden. It showcases the wide diversity of alpine flora, and was planted with the mission of deepening understanding of and promoting conservation of alpine plants and fragile mountain environments. Funded entirely by private donations, it is worth a visit if you are ever visiting in Vail, Colorado.

An important design element for rock gardens is to use a variety of shapes, textures and all seasons of color. Choose plants that fit the size of the rocks. Too large may hide the rocks and change the rock garden into a bed or border. Plants too small, the flowers may disappear. The main point of a rock garden is for the rocks to give it character.

If you can’t visit in person, load up this short video during your next deep-breathing yoga session.

More about Nedra Secrist