Introduction to the Enabled Rock Garden

March 18, 2010

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Rock gardens look like a lot of work to most people. Moving rocks into place, planting it, and keeping it weeded can be time consuming. If you are disabled, it’s impossible. Rock gardens are possible if they are planned correctly. Read this article to learn more.

Gardening is my passion. I was really disgruntled when physical challenges meant that I needed to cut back or even give up my outdoor gardening. My large perennial beds required a great deal of weeding and general maintenance. This was rather difficult to accomplish from a lawn chair. It was time for some drastic changes.

During the past few years, I have been studying alpine plants. Cushion plants in particular have attracted my attention. These are normally small plants and need to be viewed up close to fully appreciate their beauty. I learned that many alpine gardeners grow cushion plants in troughs or containers. In Europe, alpine houses are used to over-winter the individually potted plants. Troughs are the best option for me since I can’t have an alpine house.

While recovering from a total knee replacement in the spring of 2009, I spent my time learning all I could about trough gardening and alpine plants in general. This research increased my fascination with these plants to the point that converting my existing perennial beds to rock gardens is an on-going project which will take about 3 years to complete. A great deal of research went into finding a way to renovate my gardens so they would be low maintenance and still satisfying to me.

First, I drew up plans for my intended renovated gardens and acquired permission from the townehouse management to continue with my plans. Then, I hired a teenager to do the physical labor of the renovations. A future article will feature the step-by-step process of renovating my backyard gardens.

Once I was able to drive again, I made a few trips to local garden centers to find some choice alpine plants. My choices included Dianthus, Sedums, Sempervivums, Penstemons, Andraces, Saxifrages, and Lewisias. A few other plant genera were trailed too.

Michigan just came through one of the coldest winters we’ve had for a few years. This proved to be a great year for trailing the above plant genera to see if they would thrive in a small raised bed, troughs raised above ground level, and even holes in cement blocks. Although I suffered some losses, I found most of my favorite genera thrived in their new homes. Gardening has been pure pleasure this year!

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