Great examples in the use and placement of rocks in the Hardscape. Certainly a huge investment for sure, but if done correctly and using the RIGHT plants, you can create a private theme that will bring joy to your garden hideaway which will create the illusion of escape and add great value to the home. Take a look at this UN-Swedish-like example below.
These features were in Göteborg Botanical Gardens. But here's some advice for folks actually living in warmer climates. Even when someone does a great job of placement with just the right shapes and sizes in a theme, the biggest mistakes I see in the use of rocks is folks not having the slightest clue of what plants to use so as not to hide or overwhelm those kool features you wanted to highlight in your hardscape in the first place. One plant I actually do like in many situations, but when neglected will totally bury your rockscape is the beautiful insect attracting flowering plant Lantana.
A prime example is the house at the very bottom of my Mum's street on the corner of Pepper Drive and Marlinda in El Cajon CA. That corner planter had some large granite boulders placed there if I remember, but as a result of neglect the Lantana has mounded up so high with alot of dead dry material underneath that the plant is a complete mass of material the size of a pickup truck. No sign that boulders were ever present. Take a look at the plants they used here at the Botanical Gardens which simply accent and compliment the rock features.
|Dwarf variety of a Varigated Yucca|
Another area of this Botanical Garden that incorporated unique slab or slate type of boulders with a block rectangular shape was under these Oak & Elm Trees for use as natural benches. Once again the choices of rock and just the right placement has a natural appeal as if it has always been there.
|Natural Rock Benches|
|Another angle and look at other slabs incorporated |
into the rest area.
|And yet another angle of the rock rest area|
Some words about boulders, rocks and gravel in the Hardscape. If you're going to do it, then do it right. Don't be satisfied with just some rocks of any kind placed in the garden. If possible go with boulders that will be central pieces and make sure they are the right type of rock geology feature which will fit your theme. Think of the plant community theme you want and definitely know something about the geology of the picturesque area they are native to. Picking the right boulders is an art in it self. It took me several years combing the canyons, washes and Alluvial Fans (Bajadas) around the Coachella Valley for just the right shapes, colours and stone quality before I finally finished my own garden steps in Anza. The example boulders above clearly illustrate that the designer had specifics in mind. You have to be the one that lives with your choices whether you PERSONALLY are involved or you even if you SUB-CONTRACT someone else. By all means do your own personal homework and have a say, it's your investment.
My way of homework for years was spending as much time in nature as possible and taking mental notes. If need be, take photographs of visuals and other scenery that inspires you on the inside. Illustrate scenes that impress you and your taste in what a kool hideaway looks like and think of ways of replicating that in your own urban landscape. I've not only done this with hardscapes involving various rocks, logs and such, but with specific plant features as well. Where do you think Bonsai inspiration came from ? There are countless Bonsai examples everywhere in the wild around the globe.
|Tumber & Associates Landscape Consultants, Ontario, Canada|
Tomorrow I'll have some examples of trees and shrubs which thrive here and could pass as their subtropical substitutes or counterparts for native plants elsewhere from warmer climates. Escaping from Temperate & Boreal Forest habitats is a habit of mine, even if it's creating a fantasy of sorts. Creating microclimate Illusions even in such areas as these is definitely possible as the Desert Life theme proves this year.