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California Gardenscapes


Montane Rock Garden

Landscape Typology: Mountains above 5,000 feet

Natural Places in San Diego:
Palomar Mountain State Park, Garnet Peak,
Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

Description: Under a rustic Catalina Ironwood (Lyonothamnus floribundus), a thicket of Black Sage and Coast Encelia was cleared to form a rock berm. Soil was added to increase the slope and elevation and boulders used to terrace the mound and create planting niches. A circular birdbath was relocated near the high point of the mound, symbolic of a mountain lake. Plants that are adapted to montain rock outcroppings were planted such as red monkeyflower (Mimulus puniceus), foothill penstemon (Penstemon heterophyllus) and yellow lupine (Lupinus densiflorus aureus). This created a red, purple and yellow flash of color I termed the ‘disco ball’ planting. These plants love to get their root under the cool, moist undersides of stones. The moist low area behind the mound was planted with annuals to create a green and colorful backdrop. Redwood Gorilla Hair Mulch was added around the boulders to prevent erosion and maintain moisture.

Helpful Tips:
Redwood mulch is the best bedding for natives because it breaks down slowly and adds negligible organic matter to the soil. Most natives thrive in arid, fungal-based ecologies with inorganic, mineral soils so refrain from amending the soil. Boulders are fabulous place-making elements that create niches for plants that require excellent drainage.

Montane Rock Garden


Banner Photo:Mojave prickly poppy | Rachel Cobb