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Garden Ramblings, Issue #022
June 15, 2006
June 2006

Monthly Musings on the Garden Scene

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In this issue:

- Letter from the Editor
- Plant of the Month
- How To Build a Rock Garden
- Guest Article
- Special Offers
- Useful Resources



Welcome to the June issue of Garden Ramblings your monthly window on what's going on in the world of gardening.

The "Plant of the Month" is the Aquilegia or Columbine which is in full bloom just now in gardens and in the wild.

The theme this month is Rock Gardens. If you've ever wondered about building a rock garden but were not sure where to start, here's some suggestions for you.

The Guest article is for people who have problem rocky areas in their yards. "Design The Desert Landscape Of Your Dreams" by Johnny Smith has some interesting ideas.

With the longest day nearly upon us the merchants are now feturing Pre-Season Sales. As always the best of their offerings are contained in their newsletters.

The resources section this month follows the theme of rock gardens with a selection of sites with information on construction and lists of suitable plants with lots and lots of pictures.



If you want to keep up with all the news in the gardening world, you can read my blog Garden Supplies News.

Enjoy the issue.




Plant of the Month

Name: Aquilegia or Columbine. Common names: Culverwort, Granny's bonnet, Granny's nightcap.

Description: Hardy herbaceous perennial with a tripartite leaf form. The funnel-shaped flowers have a prominent spur to each of the five petals. The flowering period is from May to July.

Origin: Native to Europe, Canada and the United States.

Cultivation: Aquilegias can be divided into two groups, the alpine species which are ideal for the rock garden, and the border species which will thrive in a sunny or partially shaded position preferably in a moist but free-draining soil. Propagate by division between October and March or grow from seed. In practice they tend to increase rapidly by self-sown seed.

Pests and diseases: Generally trouble free but can be affected by leaf miners, aphids, rust and a virus disease which causes yellow mottling of the leaves.


Folklore: The genus name Aquilegia is derived from the Latin word for eagle since the base of the flower resembles an eagle's claws. The popular name Columbine comes from the Latin "columba" meaning dove because the flower was said to resemble a flight of these birds. It is also due to this association that that the flower has become a symbol of the Holy Spirit and appears often in the paintings by the great masters. On the other hand in the Middle Ages it was perceived to be a magic plant and featured in sorcery.


How To Build A Rock Garden

Some of the most attractive garden plants grow wild in the mountainous regions of the world where they are found in habitats ranging from high rock face niches to areas of loose scree. Alpines and rock garden plants provide a wealth of beautiful species that will add extra interest to any garden.

A rock garden will try to imitate the conditions found in mountain regions and so will consist of rocks separated by areas of free draining soil. A rockery should be built in a position where it will receive full sun throughout the day. The ideal situation is a south-west facing site.

If your backyard has any rocky outcrops that you have previously regarded as a problem area, this could be converted into a rock garden. You may have installed a fish pond and been left with an unwanted mound of earth. Here again you could add some rocks and grow alpine plants. But, for the best results, choose a site and build your rock garden from scratch.

Since good drainage is essential, never construct a rock garden where the soil is wet. The reason for this is that heavy rocks will tend to compact the soil and damage its structure which will restrict the flow of water and make for poor drainage.

Once you have chosen the site for your new rock garden you must remove all perennial weeds since these will be almost impossible to eradicate once the garden is established. Ideally you should treat the site with weedkiller several months before you start construction to ensure that the area is completely weed free.

To ensure good drainage the base of your rock garden should consist of a six inch thick layer of rubble, broken bricks, stones and gravel. Spread over this a layer of turf laid grass side down to prevent the topsoil clogging the rubble layer below. If turves are not available you can use polythene sheeting with holes puntured at regular intervals to allow water to drain through. Cover with good quality topsoil and then dig out hollows in which to place the rocks.

Your rock garden is now ready for planting and so you can finalise your choice of alpine and low-growing plants. Place the pots on the surface of the soil to check that you are happy with the layout. Once you are satisfied with the design, use a trowel to complete the planting. To add the finishing touch, top-dress the soil around the plants with a layer of grit or fine gravel.

If you would like to try growing some alpines but do not feel like constructing a full-scale rock garden, use a container. Traditionally old kitchen sinks have been used but any form of container will do so long as a free-draining compost is used.

Whether you choose a small container or a full-scale rock garden, growing alpine plants will add a delightful extra dimension to your garden.

There has not been room in this article to consider the different plants that you can choose for your rock garden but I have included some information in the Useful resources section below.


Design The Desert Landscape Of Your Dreams
By Johnny Smith

The following information in this article should be exactly what you are looking for and I hope it helps you.

If you live where plant growth in your backyard is rare and green grass is hard to find, then do not worry, there is help for your desert landscape. When your back yard is full of boulders and sand, it is hard to imagine a peaceful getaway. You can add a few things to make your yard softer and more comfortable for you and guests.

* Design your landscape

Think about the look that you want to create. Read through magazines and look at lots of pictures to get ideas of what you want for your backyard. Coming up with the design could be the hardest part of the whole landscaping process. Keep in mind how much space you have and the amount of time and money you want to put into your project.

*Bring the desert into the landscape

Instead of having plain rocks and boulders in your yard, add some fun colored rocks with different shapes and styles. You can add original desert plants around the rocks to soften them up.

*Gardens in the desert

It is possible to have a garden in your desert. You can add flowers as long as they are suitable for the climate and location. And some texture with plants and flowers will give your desert landscape a whole new look. Remember to keep the lower-growing plants in the front and the taller ones to the back.

*The view from indoors

You want to place your garden of beauty where it can be enjoyed from the windows in your house. This way all you have to do is look out and see your paradise waiting for you. This is good also for guests to appreciate your new landscape even from indoors.

*Bringing water to your desert landscape

If you live in a climate that is hot and dry, then you may want to think about adding a water feature to your landscape. This is not only fun and creative, but may also offer relief from the heat for you. You can add water gardens or ponds to your landscape. You can also go bigger and design the perfect pool for you and your family. This will definitely bring more people over for entertaining.

Do not forget the lights at night. One great idea for your landscape is lighting. This is important to show off your new and improved landscape at night. The lights on the rocks will create different shadows and bring your new design alive at night.

With a few fun and creative ideas, you can enjoy your desert landscape with a whole new and improved feel, comfort and style. I'm hoping that you found all of this interesting and helpful. The internet is full of helpful tips and tricks and I appreciate you coming and reading.

You can visit our landscaping site for more information about landscaping aboveground swimming pools.

Article Source:


Special Offers

As always it's the newsletter readers that receive the best offers so, if you've taken my advice and subscribed, you will have already seen most of these.

Irises seem to be the flavour of the month. Gurneys are featuring their collection. "All our irises are on pre-season sale right now. Pick your favorites and beat the crowds to 20% Off savings!"

"The Ultimate Iris Show" is how Brecks describe their offering. "Our 2006 Ultimate Iris Collections will keep you on the edge of your seat (whether it's from your patio, deck or living room window). We've taken everything you love about Breck's iris - the beauty, the ease, the performance - and raised them to a higher standard of excellence. And we've done it especially for preferred customers like you, at up to HALF-PRICE savings!"

Dutch Gardens offer "A Springtime of Color and Fragrance" with their Quail Daffodil bulbs. They have irises as well, but don't miss their Photo Contest where you could win a $500 Dutch Gardens Gift Certificate.

Gardener's Supply Company have a reminder that Father's Day is June 18 and feature some suggested gifts all which come with 10% off (except for the present of last resort - the Gift Card).


Useful Resources

This is the official site of The North American Rock Garden Society. Here you will find everything you need to know about rock gardens. Although you have to become a member to enjoy the full benefits, there is plenty of information available for free.



The Colorado State University Cooperative Extension has a useful list of rock garden plants.

The Rock Garden Plants Database is a useful reference site with plenty of photos.


The Alpine Garden - Rock Gardening on the Net has a fancy flash home page and a hugh collection of photos.




Now for something complpetely different. What started off as an illegal construction in the jungle has now grown to an incredible creation covering some 25 acres.


Please feel free to pass on this newsletter to your gardening friends. Do let me have your feedback and suggestions to: [email protected]

That's all until next month but in the meantime you can always look at my Blog Garden Supplies News

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