3 DESERT ROCK GARDENING

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DESERT ROCK GARDENING: 

DESERT ROCK GARDENING Michael Chamberland Tucson Botanical Gardens

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Desert plants live among rocks.

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Some seem to grow from bare rock itself…

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A variety of rock sizes, down to gravel, characterize a natural appearance.

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Rocks are more than ornamental additions to a desert garden.

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Rocks, including gravel, hold down the soil against erosion.

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Rocks work as a mulch. Plants love to grow roots under rocks.

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Bury rocks several inches or more into the ground, to establish a natural appearance and to ensure the mulching effect.

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Rainwater runoff from rock surfaces can be directed to benefit plants.

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A strategically-placed rock can offer shade from hot late-day sun.

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The thermal mass of rocks can offer protection for cold-sensitive species.

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Building a rock garden – choose a sunny site away from messy trees.

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Build up the soil to create hills to add interest. Place the largest rocks.

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On the practical side, many of your rocks will function as stepping-stones. Establish a sufficient number of flat and stable rocks for that purpose.

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Plant shrubs, wildflowers, and non-succulents first. Get them established with sufficient watering before adding cacti and succulents.

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Plant cacti and succulents, and add medium-size to small rocks.

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Choose local rocks. Angular rocks tend to have the most character and versatility.

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Pick one type of rock and use it consistently. Avoid a jumble of different rocks. Match with a gravel of the same color.

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Combine rocks and plants which are on the same size scale.

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Scale can range from landscape-size to a small potted garden.

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Design with contrasting colors to create dramatic combinations.

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Design with contrasting colors to create dramatic combinations. )

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Fit plants into nooks and crevices (rocks can potentially be moved as plants grow)

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Rocks may create shadows for dramatic back-lighting effects.

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Play with texture and shapes.

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Large rocks are at a premium, for cost and difficulty of transport.

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Place similar rocks close together to create the illusion of a single larger rock.

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Every rock is different. Perfecting placement is an art.

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The mineral composition of landscape rocks has not been found to aversely effect the health of plants.

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Be creative, and remember, rocks can be transplanted too.

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Get busy with rock gardening! Copyright 2013 American Public Gardens Association. This presentation is intended for viewing only and should not be copied or re-distributed for further use.

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No part of this presentation may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission of the American Public Gardens Association. Copyright © 2013 by the American Public Gardens Association. All rights reserved. The American Public Gardens Association Vision: A world where public gardens are indispensable APGA 2013 Garden Evolution Conference _______________________________________________