Accessibility is a key factor when building a rockery. The ability to tend each plant is vital. The top of my garden is approximately two feet above the driveway. My plan from the outset included steps. Initially precut stepping stones figured into the construction. But as the project took shape I realized the precise shape of a form fitted step may look awkward among naturally shaped rocks. As I stood outside looking at the site I thought of a room tastefully decorated with antiques and visualized two or three ultra modern pieces placed among the ornately carved furniture. Something is wrong with this picture. An effective theme for any home or garden must contain continuity. To ensure a desirable result I visited several stores and found a wonderful solution. Mica stones. They are flat, thick, sturdy and come in an amazing array of tones. Several were purchased and the construction was underway.
Positioning the steps is very similar to setting stones in the rockery. The major difference is levelling the stone. The first step was installed but this takes time and patience, as the bottom is not flat. Working with the soil is a continuous battle until the stone does not move. Take your stout stick for ramming soil and compact the soil around the rock. To keep the soil from shifting plant plenty of bulbs and seeds and perennials as their roots will hold the soil in place and your steps will remain level. Jump on the step several times to assure firm footing. Choose large varieties as some of the stone will be buried in soil and allow for plants to creep over the steps. The picture below displays the mica stone inserted into the soil. The largest one is at the bottom, a tiny stone is placed vertically and another large stone is set at the top. Enough room is left to plant bulbs, seeds and smaller varieties of perennials.
As growth occurs the steps begin to look at home in the rockery. As you can see from the picture below the steps add interest to the garden but first and foremost they are functional. This photo was taken shortly after planting. I visualized the end result and realized the steps would blend in harmoniously with the various rocks.
The following graphic depicts the steps as they look with a lot of greenery. The plants grew quickly and filled the area within a month. The rapid growth is largely due to the humidity we experienced in July. Everything was shooting up in leaps and bounds and I watered faithfully to promote healthy specimens. The peat moss is a wonderful additive and so crucial for the rockery. These plants are in full sun and on a slope. The peat retains the moisture and assists in keeping the plants thriving during these difficult times.