Gardens - Rock Gardens

A sprawling rock garden

Kahleen Dore
Photography by
Laura Arsiè

A talented gardener manicures her sprawling property overlooking Ontario's Niagara Escarpment.

You know the saying about life giving you lemons? What if it gives you rocks? You make a rockery, of course. And that really is how this naturalistic garden in Caledon, Ontario, got going and growing. “It started out 20 years ago as a pile of boulders and rubble that came from the excavation for our house,” says the homeowner. “I started digging out the rubble, and the stones I couldn’t move became the anchor for the garden.” (Or her husband, resident rock remover, came in with a crowbar.)

Garden stats
2,000 square metres (on a 3-hectare property)
Zone: 5
Orientatition: All
Age of garden: 20 years
Conditions: Escarpment woodland filled with rocks and roots amended with mulch and topsoil; mix of sun and shade
Growing season: May to October
Focus: Rockeries, a natural look; a mix of native and introduced plants
Maintenance tip: Once the ground is frozen in fall, mulch flowerbeds with shredded leaves. Though labour intensive in fall, in the spring this means less digging and gives a very natural aesthetic


On the rocks
Simple rockeries emerged first. As she worked, the homeowner simply added soil between the boulders and popped in plants, although many just showed up naturally. “Sometimes wild flowers just wander in,” she says.
“I’ve adopted many a ‘drop-in’ Jack- in-the-pulpit, trillium or mullein; a collection of small native trees, such as Eastern leatherwood; and various types of ‘visiting’ ferns abound.”

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