• Newsletter icon
  • Facebook icon
  • Twitter icon
  • Pinterest icon
  • Blog icon
  • YouTube icon
  • DBG Instagram

Rock Gardening in the Rockies


Rock gardeningRock gardening and xeriscaping can offer solutions to the bland stereotypes associated with water savvy landscaping. And with Colorado’s natural drought cycles, we should all be considering ways to encourage water conservation. Rock gardens are more than the name implies. Instead of being a garden of solely stone, they are in fact a tool for bringing a vignette of nature’s beauty and diversity to the home garden.  Few garden styles attempt to emulate the rocky outcrops, mountain sides and buttes found throughout the world’s wild areas whether it be a rocky seaside outcrop or a rock outcrop on a 14,000 foot peak in the Rockies.

Drawing on the largest plant palette available to humankind, there are rock garden plants for a wide variety of areas - those that never receive supplemental irrigation, to those that are fine with weekly irrigation and even those that crave water.  No matter what the water situation, there are rock garden plants for every garden.

Many of the traditional and newer rock garden plants available in the trade come from the world’s steppe and continental areas, adapted to long hot dry summers, and cold dry winters.  Many of these plants relish any extremes Colorado’s weather throws at them - whether it is the 70+ days of 90 degrees or more last summer or the 7 degrees in April this year.  The rock gardens at Denver Botanic Gardens and at my home look good despite these challenges.

Rest assured no matter what weather extremes come in the future, rock gardening can be a great solution and offer a garden style that looks good year around.

If you’re interested in jazzing up your landscape with some innovative and beautiful rock gardening suggestions, join Mike for his class, Rock Gardening in the Rockies, on May 16 and 23rd.   The class will look at the history of rock gardens, see living examples of rock gardens at the Gardens, talk about design aspects and do a trough planting demonstration.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGuest Blogger: Mike Kintgen

Mike is a Colorado native with a degree in horticulture from Colorado State University.  He has worked at Chicago Botanic Gardens, Rhododendron Species Foundation and has been involved with Denver Botanic Gardens since he was 12 years old.   Rock Gardening has been a special interest of his for 20 years and he is the current president of the local rock garden society.



Jason Williams

Hello Mike, I'm getting ready to create my rock garden in my backyard, what is good substrate? example squeege, breeze, crushed granite? Thank you for any help.
Len Lehman

Hi Mike: Len Lehman here - newly elected president of the Alleghany Chapter of NARgs and where you will hopefully be speaking next year on Oct. 11th! Just a quick question as I know Karen Schmidt will be working with you on logistics for the program on 11th. we sponsor a nice small rock garden at the Aviary in Pittsburgh(hope we can show it to you!) and the Avairy personal would like to see us make it more hummingbird friendly. Do you have any suggestions as to what Western penstemons might be good doers here in the east? Looking forward to your visit! PS We would like to purchase some plants of the Rocky Mt. alpines to purchase at your talk. Any chance of getting a preview of slide list so we can order a few for our members?
Mike Kintgen

Hi Len, Thank you for your questions, please email if you have a chance at kintgenm@botanicgardens.org. That way we can communicate more efficiently. All the best and look forward to meeting you

Post a Comment

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.