Considering where we find ourselves, this planet Earth is something of a big ol' rolling rock garden flying around the sun at about 66,000 miles per hour. But closer to home, Reno and most towns around are actually nestled snugly and quite comfortably within seismically active rolling rock gardens, the long result of more or less random geologic forces and millions and millions of earth years.
Just think, the incredibly old alluvial fans upon which Reno is built consist mostly of basalt or granite stones rounded by time and gravity's slow creep toward the lowest line of the valley. Many of the stones you see began their slow journey thousands of feet above us. Many are still moving. The erratic impact of moving stone strikes us as beautiful. We take pleasure in the evidence of literally living in a garden of moving rocks.
In some parts, in some yards around the valley, people have tended gardens that reveal or reflect the rockiness we live on rather than to hide or remove it. This can be a suggestion toward what to imagine for your rock garden plans. It can be found -- and it makes sense -- from taking a look at what the earth is actually made of around here. Find it at the edges exactly between the valley and mountains, in places where it hasn't been touched by humans yet.
Bring that image back and see if you can apply it to your space in the yard. Of course, since it is a garden, you can explore the much larger arena of plants to plant, but be sure to choose plants that like rock gardens, ones that thrive in rock gardens. That's the trick.
We love rock gardens and we stock many plants that love to live in rock gardens. Come in and let us help. We specialize in smaller containers so planting is easy for your new or existing desert or alpine rock garden.
The desert aesthetic is so clean. When planning the rock garden, it can be fun to emulate the natural landscaping personalities of local stone, the way rock keeps space somewhat open and well defined, even in its seemingly chaotic rubble. The High Sierra rain shadow provides conditions for desert life. Eastern waves of high mountain ranges do the same. Repeated on each mountain side and each valley is the transition between Western alpine (often Pinion, Juniper and Mountain Mahogany) and the sloping sagebrush and Rabbitbrush valleys. All of it is rocky. The living contours offer a subtle blending of life forms, translating into a continuum of choices for your garden. From conifer to cactus and many in between.
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Traditionally, alpine rock gardens consist of a single type of stone. This is because usually the alpine rock gardener is attempting to recreate or represent those cozy, peaceful places on tops of mountains where the bed rock is exposed above the soil line. In contrast is the desert where different types of rocks collect. Of course, when you get down close and take a good look, the rocky alpine meadow is much more diverse than you might expect. Alpine rock gardeners often avoid using more than a single type of stone. Others add variations like adding spice to a dish. Still others will attempt to portray the definite transition between alpine and desert. We suggest you follow what looks good.
In the United States, rock gardens have been popular solutions to steep slopes and drier climates since the 19th century, but rock gardens have especially become popular in the west since rocks are so much a part of our lives here, abundant and readily available. But even though there might seem to be an overabundance of rocks to collect, that's not necessarily the case. Take gold and silver for example...
We recommend supporting the mining industry here in Nevada by buying rocks already gathered and sorted by professionals. Save your auto, too, by having them delivered by professionals. But if you're determined to find a few rocks on your own, then it's smart to be educated, as they say, and knowing how to find, collect and transport rocks and stones will save your back, and the beauty of their places of origin.
Well, not really, or at least not around here, but you have to pretend that they are when you see them on protected land and you want to pick them up and take them home. You just have to pretend that you can't take them or you'll die because we know they are protected by acts passed by Congress.
Gathering rocks in national parks, preserves, native and historical cultural sites, private lands and other protected areas is often forbidden by strict law and punishable by fines and even imprisonment. The rule is to know the rules when you go rock collecting, and one of the big rules is not to steal from such places. Collecting is allowed on other less protected lands. Often areas that allow rock collecting will be adjacent to protected areas, as in National Forest land or BLM land. Sometimes you need a permit, so always consult with the local authorities. This way you will protect yourself by knowing exactly what's allowed and where.
It is not automatically legal and ok to take plants from public lands. Often, permits are required, so always stop by any local county, or National Forest field office for specific rules and recommendations. Local stories abound reporting that many wild local plants, although amazingly hardy when established, do not transplant well due to the traumatic extraction resulting from such rocky soil. Only the smallest specimens of a very limited number of plant types can be successfully transplanted. Also, because of the influx of humans, more and more restrictions are needed to protect wild land. Again, any local National Forest office will have trained and knowledgeable personnel able to explain the limitations and the legal requirements for taking plants from public lands. State and county laws and procedures differ widely, too, so be sure to get the correct information and the proper permissions.
You might find these Web sites and pages interesting or helpful in your desert rock gardening plans. You can also follow these links to more information about local rock types, tips on rock gathering, etc.