In general, I just don’t get rock gardens. They leave me baffled. Perhaps this is because I come from a region of deep soil but few rocks. (Or maybe it’s just jealousy – sour rocks?)

Flingers descending on the Shinn’s garden

Whichever. Even with all the rocks, I found the Ft. Collins garden of Carol and Randy Shinn to be sumptuous and exciting.

That’s a yummy patch of blue Erigeron sitting there among the rocks.

Much of this garden was not a traditional rock garden but rather a crevice garden, with flat stones pushed down vertically into the soil. To me this has a more dynamic look, suggesting stone thrusting upward with the collision of miniature tectonic plates.


Then there are the generous use of richly-colored rock garden plants, like the rose-colored Lychnis above.


These, however, are mixed with luscious cottage garden favorites. Oh, the Irises – the Irises!


Not to mention the Peonies.


And the Poppies.


Just because you have a lot of rocks doesn’t mean you have to buy into a whole austerity program.


I like the ground-covering ‘Biokovo’ Geraniums (Geranium x cantabrigiense) in the lower right corner with a nice little Salvia on the other side of the rock. And sure, the miniature conifers provide a nice contrast to all the bright colors.


OK, here people are heading into the Back Garden. Nice arbor!


The Back Garden is full of contrasts. There is more rock garden but also a shady corner for contemplative moments. Note the faucet water fountain to the left.


A brick path leads to a vegetable garden.


Sweet little succulents.


I love this tiny Clematis.


Here’s the vegetable garden. Those pea vines look very content.

Many thanks to the Shinns for opening their garden to the flingers, and showing us another side of rock gardens.



44 Comments on “A Rock Garden After My Own Heart”

  1. This is lovely. I can rarely put my shovel in the ground and not hit a rock. It makes me wonder how they ever farmed this land, though I know all the topsoil was removed before building here. I have to laugh at the per pound prices for rocks at the local nursery. Pay for rocks? No way.

  2. This is a beautiful garden and well designed. I have a rock garden mulched with pebbles. It started out as a normal garden with mulch, but try as hard as i could, the only thing that kept the cats from doing their business in it was to pebble and rock it. Now that I have all the neighbours love and yes I do too.

      • Thanks Jason, we are really glad they work too – believe me. I like cats and used to have a few as pets when I was younger. As I got older we kept dogs and currently have a Border Collie. Cats can be extremely dangerous when it comes to wildlife and they do like to roam and do their business in other people yards.

  3. This is a really lovely garden. Those rocks look great sticking up out of the ground like that. And the fountain is an ingenious way to make a boundary fence look good. I could feel at home in that garden, sitting on the bench in the shade! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  4. The plant material is exquisite . . . but the rock? I don’t get it either. (No sour rocks.) Boulder Creek is right up the highway from here. As the name suggests, there are plenty of boulders there from a mix of all the geology that crashes together (in very slow motion) there. My garden lacks the mix, but not the quantity. Rocks of one kind or another are common in much of California, even in the alluvial valleys.

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