On the Rocks – A Blog about Rock Gardens & Alpine Perennials

Posted by Wallish on Jun 7 2018

There was a day when I mocked my good friend Allison about her alpine rock garden…and then I discovered that I had a rock garden in the yard of our new home, but it was covered with quack grass. I cleaned it up, got rid of the weeds, and now it is one of my favorite gardens in my yard, and I even made it BIGGER! My rock garden makes me smile. It is the first to show signs of life and the first to show off its shades of pink and purple while the other gardens are just waking up. It is low maintenance and starts blooming long before I have a chance to give it any attention. Here are the reasons why rock gardens and alpine perennials work SO well together.

Why Alpines?

  • Alpine plants have their roots – excuse the pun – in mountain meadow landscapes.
  • Alpines are able to grow and thrive in harsh conditions, which mountainsides offer: cold & windy & very short growing seasons.
  • To have enough time to reproduce, they emerge from dormancy very early in the spring and they bloom quickly so they can produce seeds.
  • Alpines have shorter heights, with average size ranging from 2” to 10” tall.
  • They are really zone hardy for our area, many are zone 2, so that works well for our zone 3/ 4 climate here in Edmonton.

Because alpines bloom early, consider adding some shorter perennials that aren’t specifically alpines like short perennial geraniums, that bloom little later in the summer and dot some continuously blooming annuals to pull color through all season long. Some great shorter annuals for this type of garden include:

  • alyssum
  • fibrous begonias for shady gardens
  • gazanias
  • livingstone daisies
  • lobelia for shady gardens
  • short petunias
  • marigolds
  • million bells (calibroachoa)
  • pansies
  • violas

Here is a chart of perennial plants that do well in rock gardens – we need to keep in mind that rock gardens tend to be a little drier. Not all the plants listed in this chart are genuine alpines but they do well in rock gardens and their heights are shorter.

Give these tough little a guys a chance when you are looking to fill a small spot in your garden – we have a section set out just for alpines & rock garden flowers on our perennial department. Because we love alpine perennials and rock gardens, we like to build a unique collection and we would be happy to walk you through it and show you how these would work in your garden.

Got questions? Fire us a quick email or call us on the phone at 780-467-3091.

Rock Garden Flowers

Full Sun
6 or more hours of sunshine
Part Sun
4-6 hours of sunshine
Shade
< 4 hours of sunshine
Alpine Plants (2-10” tall)
  • ajuga
  • alpine daisy
  • alpine eryngium
  • antennaria pussy toes
  • armeria
  • bergenia
  • campanula
  • cerastium
  • dianthus
  • Dicentra
  • dwarf chelone
  • dwarf heuchera
  • dwarf iris
  • dwarf lilies
  • dwarf veronica
  • dwarf yarrow
  • echium – red feathers
  • gypso repens
  • leontopodium
  • lewisia
  • ornamental thyme
  • primula
  • pulsatilla
  • saxifrage
  • sedum
  • sempervivum
  • shasta daisies
  • short daylilies
  • short grasses
  • tradescantia
  • vinca
  • viola
  • ajuga
  • antennaria pussy toes
  • bergenia
  • Dicentra
  • dodecatheon
  • dwarf chelone
  • dwarf chelone
  • dwarf heuchera
  • dwarf heuchera
  • leontopodium
  • primula
  • vinca
  • vinca
  • viola
  • ajuga
  • alpine columbine / aquilegia
  • bergenia
  • Dicentra
  • dwarf heuchera
  • dwarf heuchera
  • dwarf hostas
  • leontopodium
  • primula
  • vinca
  • vinca
  • viola