Five rock plants for June

Here’s a few recommendations for plants for a gravel bed or a stone trough. They are in flower with me now on June 1st – but will no doubt be earlier further south.

1) Ranunculus gramineusGiven my daily struggles with buttercups, I’m reluctant to regard them as anything but a weed. However, this is a beauty, with glaucous foliage and a nice stately habit and not in the least invasive. Although it is a plant from southern Europe, it’s hardy with me – although it has the worrying habit of completely dying back once it has flowered. It can be divided at that stage, and comes away again reliably. This description from The Botanical Magazine; Or, Flower-Garden Displayed  by William Curtis (1794) does it full justice:

This species of Ranunculus, an inhabitant of the dry pastures South of France and Italy, and a hardy herbaceous plant of ready growth, recommends itself by the earliness of its flowering and the delicate glaucous colour of its foliage. Parkinson figures it with double flowers, though he describes it with semi-double ones only; we have not observed either of these varieties in the gardens about London, they have most probably fallen victims to the rage for novelty, at the shrine of which many a fair and goodly flower is yearly sacrificed.It flowers towards the end of April, and is propagated by parting its roots in autumn.
2) Aster NatalensisThis blue daisy from the Drakensberg mountains of South Africa makes an excellent plant for the rockery. It does appreciate full sun, though – I have one specimen in part shade, and it does not flower so well. It’s evergreen and hardy and spreads very slowly outwards from its central core. I haven’t tried dividing it – I imagine it ought not to be too difficult.
3) Iris Setosa var arctica (or ‘dwarf form’)
A native of Siberia and Alaska,  this is a lovely small iris. It really likes damp soils, but it would quickly get swamped anywhere round my pond, so I grow it in the scree garden with a couple of handfuls of peat beneath it to absorb the rain and keep it wet. Surprisingly, for a Siberian plant, I find it can be damaged in winter – perhaps Scotland is not quite cold enough for it? There’s a lot of colour variability in the plants you can find for sale – some being a rather nasty washed-out lilac, so if you can find one in flower in a nursery, that’s the best way to be sure you are getting something you like.
4) Rhodohypoxis ‘Hebron Farm Biscuit’Who could resist a plant called ‘Biscuit’?  But quite apart from the name, this is my favourite rhodohypoxis. Simple and beautiful.  As the Anxious Gardener’s masterful post on Rhodohypoxis shows, there are many different varieties, but this is among the best.  It hates winter damp at its roots, so I grow it in deep gravel, with just a smidgeon of compost. Even so, I have lost it once or twice.

) Anonymous (Edit: mystery solved – it’s erinus alpinus)I was sold this plant as acinos alpinus – which it most certainly isn’t. Does anyone recognise it? Whatever it is, it seeds itself everywhere into cracks in walls and paving, where it flourishes rather better than in the scree, and looks great. Hardy, no maintenance. I’d love to know what it is. Anyone who wants a few seed heads, e-mail me.

10 thoughts on “Five rock plants for June

  1. I am always amazed at plants that can grow in rocks. I like the blue daisy. Also the biscuit plant but I would like it better as cookie. The mystery pink is pretty and I can imagine it growing among ruins.

    BTW you left all kinds of things out of the tags including William Curtis and biscuit or really all the common names and also maybe gravel garden.

    • Unlike some, I confine myself to five or so accurate tags, recommended by WordPress as having no impact on global warming, excessive energy consumption or anything else.

        • Energy consumption? Is there an energy-amount-per-tag rate to consider? And yes, you are quite right Kininvie, Oregon has lots of mountains, including the Cascade range.–I can see snowy Mt. Jefferson (over 10,000 ft high) from my lane. I suppose there is gravel up there since my native plant encyclopedia includes rockery type plants, but unlike you I would have to artificially create such an environment in my garden. I simply prefer woodland plants…like for example ferns, among many others.

  2. Very beautiful, Mr K – all of them. I used to have a very pretty little Sisyrinchium biscutella (sadly left behind in my last garden). This is, as you will have noticed, missing a vital ‘i’ but I always thought it quite biscuity – so it almost counts. You’re so right – there ought to be more biscuit plants in the world. I very much like the buttercup and the iris – perhaps in Siberia the permafrost keeps the rhizome of the latter dry, if you see what I mean? An idle thought. Can’t help with your final choice – though she too is a beaut. D

  3. A great blog! I love that self-seeded plant if I can have few seeds, I also love your blue poppy! — if you would share some fresh seeds.

    In my blog you will see I like to grow from seeds! I collect the seeds as gift to my gardening friends and charity found raising. If you like something I have, I am glad to give them to you as well!

    • Hello Jane and welcome. Alas the blue poppy is an infertile hybrid, so has to be split and does not produce seeds. But you can try seeds of m.betonicifolia, or m.lingholm. They are available on the web.

    • Yes, it’s a very small rock plant. Very hardy, but does not enjoy damp. If you follow the link in my post to Dave’s collection, you will see what a great variety of these plants you can get.

  4. I believe the lovely pink flower may be Phlox ‘Parksville Beach’. I am a new subscriber from Bel Air, Maryland USA. Sought you out when trying to find out how long a single Candleabra Primula will live. Have many seedlings, and wonder if I need to cultivate them ALL. I have a shade garden here in Bel Air. I am enjoying all of your postings. Becky

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