In love with rocky ground

PROFESSIONAL GARDENERS and landscape artists in the city are discovering the delight rock gardens can bring into homes and small household gardens.

Though relatively inexpensive and easy to maintain, rock gardens have been slow to catch the fancy of urbanites. However, city-based architects point out that several middle class homes and a few institutions in the city do have internal rock gardens.

Rock gardens are ideal for houses set on irregular terrain, it is pointed out. The `irregularity' needed for placing rock gardens could be achieved by landscaping. The landscaped area could be used for creating a rock hillside effect by embedding rocks of different shapes and sizes. Weathered boulders and rocks sourced from riverbeds are ideal. The rock should be half buried in the mud. A rock garden could be organised even around a single rock. The former Zoo director, Raveendran, says the choice of plants is important while planning a garden with rocks and boulders as the key features. The plants should complement the rocks and must not hide or diminish their beauty.

Mr. Raveendran says that commonly, non-flowering types of plants are chosen for rock gardens. These include succulents and cacti varieties. ``Rock gardens should look untended and exude a careless beauty'', he says. The horticulturist suggests that hardy native ferns, philodendrons, climbers and sphatiphylum are ideal for rock garden settings. The manuring should be limited but sufficient for natural moss to set on the stones.

``It is high time that the city planners considered setting up rock gardens to beautify the Shangumugham and Veli areas in the city. Large rock gardens could be used for beautifying the Varkala beach area, which has natural laterite formations'', he says.

A few architects in the city aver that small internal gardens centred around a single rock could usher in nature indoors. A small fountain, a pool of water or a miniature waterfall adds to the charm of rock gardens. A prominent apparel showroom on the M.G. Road boasts a small but beautiful rock garden complete with a miniature waterfall.

An architect pointed out the poolside garden at the Technopark Club as an example of how few rocks and well laid out plants could enhance the beauty of the indoors.

By Anand G.