on the rocks


The one-half inch ‘California Gold’ granite laid down last winter was an emotional decision made during the muddy season, and even then, though I told no one, putting down all that rock made me a little nervous. But it’s become such a huge blessing that now, nerves assuaged, I’m throwing in every other bit of rock I can find.


The gold granite is now veined through with the black river rocks I dig up every time a shovel pierces the soil, buckets and buckets of them, along with occasional bags of smaller gravel to knit the larger rocks together.

Eryngium varifolium, the Moroccan sea holly, against mix of river rock and granite

I hoped the rocked area would function as a giant French drain, and it has, as well as keeping mud from clinging to paws and shoes. And it has done that too. But another side benefit, of course, is planting into it. I just can’t stop planting into the rocks. The broad swath of rocks decreases daily into a path that must now be semi-carefully navigated. Are we not our own worst enemy as far as sticking to the plan? But the plants love this not-technically-a-rock-garden scenario.

The refinement of leaves against the rock never gets old — and when Marrubium supinum is covered in morning dew, it’s a wonder of natural design that merits a long pause on the first walk of the day
It’s just as exciting adding new plants into the rocks as into the main garden (Hebe parviflora var. angustifolia) — maybe more so!
And there’s so many plants suited for this type of planting. An alpine version of fireweed is hard to resist — Chamaenerion fleischeri from Dancing Oaks
some things never change — moth caterpillars still love Salvia argentea, but this is as good as I’ve ever been able to grow it
the stock tank nearest the garage is nearly concealed now by plantings, big boys like Rhodoma capensis and tetrapanax, which now harbor a little understory of smaller plants
Asarina procumbens
asarina sending out stems to encircle the stock tank
and weave around sempervivums

The rock is easily pulled aside to dig a hole, especially for the small size plants I’m using.


Currently there’s still plenty of walking room on the gravel….if I can just stop planting it up.

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5 Responses to on the rocks

  1. Gerhard Bock says:

    I love the look of plants growing out of gravel. When I saw your photos, I automatically thought of Jenny Stocker’s amazing gravel garden in Austin!

  2. Elaine says:

    I’m with you on planting into the gravel mulch. So many plants seem to thrive in it and it makes things look less regimented. There is a reason so many weeds love to seed themselves in it. As long as you have enough space to plant your foot anything more would be just a wasted opportunity.

  3. Kris P says:

    That was the perfect solution for the muddy areas you described when you moved in. I’ve long considered whether I should cover the bare areas of the large succulent bed next to our garage with gravel and your post may have shifted me further in that direction.

  4. Denise says:

    @Wow, Gerhard, what a great memory that brings up, visiting Jenny’s garden! Hard to beat that Texas limestone though!
    @Elaine, out of your mouth to my ear! Thanks for the unbridled support!
    @Kris, summer has been easy! We’ll see how the plants handle the winter rains without sculpting into berms and keeping things fairly flat.

  5. There are times I think of ripping out our small weedy, mossy, lawn and putting in gravel. Of course without the edging in place that would mean I too would be planting out into the gravel. So tempting.

    Your garden is looking so lovely…

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