Giving up on my rock garden..

AdamM321(MA z5/6)May 4, 2004

Hi,

I started a rock garden a few years ago. It borders the street and gets snow and sand and road salt piled up along the edge on one side.

I bought all new plants last year including a mini geranium, sempervium and sedum, pink thrift, phlox subulata, rockcress, snow in summer, an elfin thyme and a few more that I forget.

This spring, very few of my plants survived the winter and the ones that did look horrible. One phlox looks pretty good, one is pretty bad. The geranium came back but hasn't grown as vigorous as last year. A sedum Vera Jameson came back but it is a little further away from the street than the others. Everything else is dead.

Are there any plants that I haven't tried that will tolerate the sand/road salt along the edge? That are hardy in zone 5? I would really like something that is really dependable and grows vigourously without being invasive.

Thanks for any help you can offer..

:-)

Adam

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steve22802(7a VA)

Don't give up yet! I'd try:

Delosperma cooperi (Ice Plant)
Sedum spurium
Sedum rupestre
Armeria maritima (Sea Thrift)
Festuca sp. ÂElijah Blue (Elijah Blue Festuca Grass)
Artemisia absinthium x Powis Castle
Dianthus pulminarius x allwoodii (Helen Allwood Pinks)
Liriope spicata Lilyturf
I have most of these in my rock garden. Some of them are known to be salt tolerant as you can see at the web page listed below and I think most of them would be OK in zone 6.

Good luck!
- Steve

Here is a link that might be useful: Salt Tolerant plants

    Bookmark   May 4, 2004 at 12:05PM
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AdamM321(MA z5/6)

Steve,

thanks for taking the time to post that link. I did go to it and I copied/pasted to a file and saved that info. I haven't been able to do anything with that bed yet, but I do like a few of your suggestions that I hadn't thought of trying. The Ice Plant sounds interesting. I had the armeria, which is also on the salt tolerant list but it died. I had two and one was variegated. I hated to lose it, it was only a year old. I also tried blue fescue and I just dug out the dead clump. I have a Powis Castle in another location. I will have to try some there. I will try the Dianthus. Is that perennial? Liriope? Really? I thought those were fussy?

Thanks again Steve,
Adam

    Bookmark   May 31, 2004 at 5:05PM
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AdamM321(MA z5/6)

Steve,

thanks for taking the time to post that link. I did go to it and I copied/pasted to a file and saved that info. I haven't been able to do anything with that bed yet, but I do like a few of your suggestions that I hadn't thought of trying. The Ice Plant sounds interesting. I had the armeria, which is also on the salt tolerant list but it died. I had two and one was variegated. I hated to lose it, it was only a year old. I also tried blue fescue and I just dug out the dead clump. I have a Powis Castle in another location. I will have to try some there. I will try the Dianthus. Is that perennial? Liriope? Really? I thought those were fussy?

Thanks again Steve,
Adam

    Bookmark   May 31, 2004 at 5:06PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

I think you tried to put the rock garden in the wrong place. Why give up on it? Just move it to a more desirable place in your yard. Rock gardens are fun.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2004 at 7:15PM
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eden_in_me(5a Maine)

Is your rock garden flat or on some sort of a slope? Not sure if it makes a difference tho. My second & third rock gardens were built a few years ago on a short section of a rock wall (very large typical New England rock wall, about 3 feet high average, not stacked, just big rocks) between the road and the field to which I added a few large but manageable by a weak 59 year old woman rocks on top. On the road I have mostly creeping sedums and phlox, but throw in whatever small excess plants I have lef over when dividing to plant elsewhere. The sedum have done the best. There is a ditch between the road, making the rocks about 6-8 feet back from the road.

I also have planted creeping sedum on the flat 6 ft area of the shoulder of the road to a fence. Taller toward the back and lower in front. I put S. linnaer closest to the road because I have so much I don't mind losing any. Fills back in in the Spring.

At first I had put some sedum in a plastic sled on top of an old carpet I had put down to smother weeds. When I moved the sled I found that red carpet & the common green leaf yellow flower kind, looks like spurium foliage in shape, had self seeded and were growing right through the carpet.

Also self seeded Spirea goldflame (?) and Van Houtei shrubs are about 6 inches tall on the uncarpeted area I have more of the sedums in. Some of the taller Sedum do not do as well there.

I find that Dianthus deltoides generally do better for me than the other types.

Don't give up, just keep trying.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2004 at 5:41PM
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sunnyday2day(mid-MI. zone 5)

I have a friend who lives in a small town with almost no yard at all. She has a privacy fence between her house and the next door neighbor. Along the fence are her larger plantings (nothing is crowded but so natural looking and very visually pleasing. The other 'neighbor' is like a fraternal club of some kind. Around the perimeter of her house is her alpine gardens and they are spectacular! Her back yard is a parking lot for a funeral home so she has to take advantage of every square inch of soil she has so it's all up close to the house where many people have evergreens, etc. She was on a garden tour a couple years ago and her place was the best of all due to her wonderful little vignettes and miniatures to compliment these alpine and rock garden plants. The front of her house is all shade so that's where the hostas and her imaginative shade plants grow. She even gardens the hall I mentioned as well with the likes of Jack in the Pulpit and other deep woods plants. I would say try another area if the salt is a killer. You'd be surprised how much you can do!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2004 at 8:50PM
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AdamM321(MA z5/6)

Hi,

Thanks for all the posts recently. :-)

I have done nothing with that part of the yard since Steve posted his response back in early May. I think I have been avoiding that part of the yard and working on other areas. lol. It looks pretty awful with big gaps where the plants that died were. I do want to give it one more winter's try before giving up on it. I will have to do something with it soon to give everything a chance to grow well before the fall.

I can't move it to another area as it is the only full sun area and my yard is completely level, except for this little berm near the street/driveway corner.

I think I had a certain look in mind, with bright colors and creeping plants on top of the rocks. I guess I will have to give up on that and go another way.

The only things that survived the winter were phlox subulata which looked pretty awful, but looks better now, a creeping sedum, a sedum Vera Jameson that was set further back, an surprisingly a perennial geranium. I even had blue fescue die out.

I have bought an ice plant to try there. I looked for the Dianthus but haven't found any yet. The only other idea I have focused on, is moving all my sedums, Autumn Joy and Matrona to that edge, using the ice plant, and adding more grasses. It won't really look like a rock garden to me though. I do enjoy sedums though. Maybe I could just search for more varieties to try.

Thanks for the interest and the encouragement. Any more ideas are always welcome. I will let you know when I decide what to do.

Adam

    Bookmark   June 14, 2004 at 10:28AM
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Elane(z6 MD)

Adam,can you please post a picture of your problem spot? It could help to see what might work better with your rockgarden. They can realy make a statement when seen from the road. So many people hide them in their own backyards and they are never admired by anyone else. Please don't give up!
Elane

    Bookmark   June 26, 2004 at 10:28AM
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AdamM321(MA z5/6)

Hi Elane,

Thanks so much for the interest. I wish I could post a photo, but I don't have a digital camera. As a matter of fact we lost our one and only camera and have not replaced it yet.

We got out to that bed yesterday for the first time this season. It was a mess. Usually we are out there in early April, and put on a new layer of mulch. Not this year, and wow, we couldn't believe the weeds. So now it has a new layer of mulch. We dug out a few dead plants. I put a few annuals along the top of the rock edge, and added one ice plant that hasn't bloomed yet.

Nothing much to admire this year, for sure. But it looks presentable now any way. As far as the photo, the best I can do is describe it. It is just a level flat front yard with a very small slope down toward the street. You wouldn't even think there was a slope unless you were trying to garden and noticed the run off. That is why I put a rock edge to the bed. The rocks are only about 12 inches high, flat stones stacked 2 on top of each other, along a bed that is about 15 ft along the street. The bed is bordered on three sides by the street, the driveway and the walkway and one side is bordered by the lawn.

On the driveway/street corner, it is anchored by a small pennisetum grass with two phlox subulatas in front of it. On the opposite end next to the lawn there is a very pretty sedum Vera Jameson that is very dark almost chocolate color. Next to that is a creeping sedum that I don't know the name of but it is a lime green with yellow flowers. Next to that is the remaining plant which is a minature geranium with purple flowers. That is it. It was empty from the geranium to the corner with the grass and phloxes. So I put three silene plants and one ice plant there yesterday, none of which have blossoms on them yet.

Actually, since all the corner plants are fine I just need probably 4 or 5 plants to fill in the middle again. The corner plants are simply foliage for most of the season, with the exception of the phlox in Apr/May at one end and the sedum late in August at the other. The geranium is finished flowering.

So basically, I need 5 plants that will bloom in June, July and maybe August that are low growing and tolerate salt. That would keep my rock garden going. I was disappointed to notice that the ice plant is a zone 7? I think. So I am anticipating it may not get through the winter.

I was just thinking, since the salt is a problem, and I need color for June and July, maybe I should plan on just using annuals every year? That might solve my problem. Well Elane, your post helped me think through some of my options. If you have any plant suggestions, that would be great.

Thanks very much,
Adam

    Bookmark   June 27, 2004 at 5:53AM
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