Erick Johnson, host of GardenSMART, is sold on rock garden plants and wants to know how to get started. Bob Stewart, part owner of Arrowhead Alpines ,feels a great place to start is with a trough garden. They're small and easy to build. By starting at this level, you can see if you like it.
It's a rock garden in miniature. The same principles that apply to a trough garden also apply to a larger rock garden. Bob takes us through the whole process from raw materials to the finished product. This can easily be done at home.
Bob starts with a hypertufa trough (use the link below for directions on how to make a trough). It is made from Portland cement, peat moss and Perlite and formed over a box. The rocks in this container are not hypertufa, but instead real tufa.
Tufa is a recent rock formation, actually a limestone rock formation. Tufa is the prime choice for rock gardens and troughs, but difficult to find. Rhyolite can also be utilized. It comes out of a topaz mine in Utah. With it, you will see little sparkly topaz in the sunlight. Also nice in a rock garden are chunks of drift stone from Mexico or California.
Avoid fieldstone cobbles; they never look right in a rock garden. Pick some nice rocks and scale them. Make any size trough but the same design principles apply. It should have material that softens the edge; it should have material creeping into the crevices between the rocks. It is really a nice garden adventure.
Bob has a little dwarf Elm tree that's in scale, along with other rock plants. There's an extremely rare European rock plant. Bob's 11-year-old son who put in, maybe, 2 hours putting this together did this container 2 years ago.
They don't take a lot of time but look great. Place them on a patio, set alongside a driveway or next to a sidewalk. They're easy to use, they're moveable and they're fun.
It's Fall, which often means clean up time in our yards and gardens. And that can often increase our exposure to poison ivy and poison oak. How do we best identify these culprits? Here is an informative article about identifying and reducing the exposure and misery from poison ivy and poison oak.
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