Guides: Gravel and Rock Garden
Native to Mexico and Central America, Echeverias are regarded by many as one of the most beautiful succulents. Evergreen, they form attractive rosettes of fleshy leaves and often resemble plum-petaled roses, waterlilies or ruffled lettuce. There are dozens of species, and hundreds of cultivars offering a wide array of colors, sizes or leaf shapes.
Attractive, Sea Holly plants (Eryngium) are striking ornamental perennials grown for their arresting, thistle-like, silvery or blue tinted flower heads adorned with a ruff of showy bracts. Blooming in summer and sometimes into fall, they are useful in rock gardens, coastal gardens and in borders where their steel blue flowers and foliage complement the vibrantly colored summer flowers.
While all Japanese Maples are beautiful and provide a fabulous architectural presence, in the garden or in containers, some enjoy particularly outstanding features such as dramatic foliage, long-lasting striking leaf color, unusual leaf shape or striking winter bark. The eye can never pass lightly over the dazzling color presented by their flaming foliage across seasons or the graceful outlines of their brilliant coral twigs and branches.
Appealing to most gardeners, Dicentra (Bleeding Heart) are rhizomatous or tuberous perennials with heart-shaped flowers dangling in arching panicles or racemes above attractively divided leaves. Shade tolerant, they bloom over a long season, extending from late spring to early fall, in cooler climates. In hotter climates, flowering will usually stop in the heat of the summer, but may start again when the weather cools in late summer or early fall. Beautiful in leaf as soon as they sprout, they quickly add their charming blooms and make elegant additions to the garden when combined with other shade-loving perennials.
There are 20 different Snowdrop species and several hundreds of hybrids. Yes, several hundreds (!). The craze known as Galanthophilia has swept through the ranks of gardening enthusiasts in the past few years. While all snowdrops look the same to the uninitiated - dainty, nodding white flowers, with a dab of green, held on a thin arching stalk at the end of a thicker stem - they reveal their differences when you take a closer look.
Robust and hardy, Ipheion (Spring Starflower) are small bulbous perennials with lovely star-shaped, sweet violet scented flowers borne on long slender scapes in mid to late spring. Blooming for up to 8 weeks, the dainty blossoms rise atop a cushion of narrow, pale, delicate and grass-like leaves. Regarded to be one of the easiest bulbs to grow
Among the most spectacular summer flowers, Fuchsias are outstanding garden plants with their continuous display of ravishing, dancing blossoms, dangling in clusters like prize jewels. Often blooming from late spring until the first frosts, they are available in a wide range of colors, from luscious pinks and purples to whites and even peach.
Rock gardens offer the perfect home for an extensive array of plants including evergreens, deciduous shrubs, perennials, annuals, and flowering bulbs. A surprisingly large number of perennial bulbs do well in rock gardens, such as snowdrops (Galanthus), crocuses (Crocus), wild tulips (Tulipa), miniature daffodils (Narcissus) and plenty others charming bulbs. The following list of perennial bulbs thrive in rock garden conditions and you will be delighted to see them every spring or fall.
When the crocuses pop up, winter is on the way out! Very few early-flowering bulbous, tuberous and cormous plants are as extensively planted as the Crocus. Indispensable for each and every garden, they join snowdrops, winter aconites and glory-of-the-snow as the very first heralds of spring.
There are thousands of cultivars and about 110 species found in the wild in Central and South America. Among them, the smaller hardy or half-hardy Fuchsias are great candidates for the rock garden. The best Fuchsias for such planting are the low-growing Fuchsias with outward facing flowers.
One of the most beloved of the spring woodland wildflowers, Trilliums (Wake Robin) are remarkable rhizomatous perennials with unbranched stems, noted for the perfect symmetry of their leaves, petals and sepals which all come in groups of three, hence the genus name. Their blooms can be either showy or discrete, their foliage handsomely mottled. Jewels of the shade garden, they are fully hardy and will blossom and blend beautifully with other woodland plants.
Native to the southern United States, Mexico, the Caribbean and northern South America, Agaves are evergreen succulents with handsome rosettes of usually thick, rigid, fleshy leaves with marginal teeth and often a sharp terminal spine. They exist in a wide range of sizes, colors and offer an amazing array of leaf shapes.
Native to sub-Saharan Africa, Madagascar, and Arabia, Aloes are evergreen succulents with usually spiny leaves arranged in neat rosettes, and spectacular, candle-like inflorescences bearing clusters of brilliant yellow, orange or red, tubular flowers. They exist in a wide range of sizes, colors and offer an amazing array of leaf shapes.
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