A passion of mine, and a tradition in the family, is the creation of rock gardens. One of the projects for this year is to complete a rock garden started to cut back and landscape a low bank overlooking the house, together with a scree garden beyond. Thanks to piles of stone left over from old building work, half buried in a remote corner of the plot, creating the garden has been less expensive than it might have been had I been forced into buying quarried stone. Anyway, reusing old material is far better than buying new given the environmental impact of quarrying.
The scree garden progresses, based on a shallower slope. It is inspired by the fantastic scree and rock garden at the St. Andrews Botanic Garden which has low growing plants creeping over scree and flat stones. The flat stones remain to be introduced and the foreground with its pile of cobbles is where the next extension of the garden will be made.
Inspiration comes from the wild too, including Orkney which has some fascinating wild rock gardens on the cliffs of Marwick Head. Small, hardy rock plants grow all over the cliffs, right up to the extreme edge, a precarious existence.
Plants, such as Thrift hang on to narrow ledges and even with overhanging rock above. The merest spot of soil or weathered tock is enough to support plant life.