Take the 2-minute tour ×
Gardening & Landscaping Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for gardeners and landscapers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I am planning to make a rockery down the end of my garden. The position is directly underneath two tall Leylandii. The soil there is poor and any moisture very quickly sucked out by the Leylandii.

The spot receives no direct sunlight - it is north facing (UK), and in the corner between two fence panels.

What plants can you recommend that would be suitable for a rockery in this position?

share|improve this question
    
You are describing classic base-of-leylandii conditions - one of the many reasons they have gone out of fashion! I assume removal is out of the question (otherwise you'd be asking a different question) but is vigorous annual pruning to improve light a possibility? This might open up the options outlined by @bamboo. –  winwaed Aug 14 '12 at 13:04
    
@winwaed: Thanks for the comment. I've pruned back the lower branches as much as I can to give the area more light. Removal is possible, but not desired- the leylandii give much wanted screening from neighbours. –  Nicholas Aug 14 '12 at 13:18
    
I fail to see why everyone is so negative. Monterey Cypress, one of Leylandii's parents, co-exists naturally with rock plants. The key is building a root zone environment in which the rock plants can compete effectively with the tree's roots. Building a scree bed near the tree is one sensible approach. Unfortunately, I am not a good enough rock gardener to recommend plants, but there must some rock gardeners around who can point out good shade loving cliff plants. Otherwise, check out the classic, Rock Gardening by H. Lincoln Foster. –  Eric Nitardy Aug 14 '12 at 17:29
    
@Eric: Thanks for the comment. Do you (or others) think that any grasses might be suitable for planting under my leylandii? –  Nicholas Aug 15 '12 at 9:09
    
Well, if anyone finds any rock plants that grow in deep shade in the UK, I'd be interested to hear about them - all I can come up with is Campanula muralis, which is invasive, plus the ones I already mentioned. As for grasses, no, they need sun - sedges and rushes will cope with shade, but need damp soil. –  Bamboo Aug 15 '12 at 10:31
show 3 more comments

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Sorry, Nicholas, but the answer is not good - rockery plants, if you mean a proper rockery rather than just a bed with a few rocks dotted about, are usually alpines. Alpines grow in dry, rocky/scree, open situations, with full exposure to sunlight, and none of them will do well in a shaded area. That then means you're stuck with plants which only do well in dry shade - so one or two ferns, maybe some Lamium varieties, Vinca, Hypericum calycinum, none of which are 'rockery' plants as we know them. The latter three are, or can be, invasive, so if you were going to use those, you'd not particularly want them where you can't reduce or weed them out.

There is also the question of how close to the leylandii you wanted this rockery to be - the soil level which currently exists around the base of the trunks should be kept the same, so any piling up of soil/rocks will need to be done further away from those.

If three feet away is not an option either, loose lay a few slabs and stand pots on them and plant into those with whatever you want - summer bedding in summer (lobelia, fuchsia, busy lizzy, begonia, pansy all tolerate shade well) or use much larger pots and put the plants mentoned in the update section in those instead. Means you have to water regularly though.

UPDATE: Anything you plant should be a minimum of 3 feet away from the base of the trees - have a look at Mahonia aquifolium, Ruscus, Prunus Otto Luyken, Lamium maculatum White Nancy or Beacon Silver, the latter two for ground cover. All will need watering till established though, particularly the shrubs mentioned.

share|improve this answer
    
Thanks for the answer. Ideally I'd like to cover the unattractive area under the leylandii with a rockery and add plants that would survive under the conditions. Placing the rockery further away from the base of the leylandii really isn't an option for me - it would intrue too far into the main area of the garden. Perhaps the solution is simply to forgo the rockery and just use those plants that you suggested. –  Nicholas Aug 14 '12 at 13:23
    
Er, sorry Nicholas, my added bit of info has appeared before the UPDATE part, should be below it.. hope it makes sense. –  Bamboo Aug 14 '12 at 15:02
    
Thanks very much indeed for the added information and suggestions. Planting in pots is an interesting alternative. –  Nicholas Aug 15 '12 at 9:06
add comment

Leylandii are well known to discourage things growing around their bases. Think of the good news: no weeds!

Why not plant something in-front of the "dead zone" surrounding the base of the leylandii and that grows a couple of feet high, hiding the dead area? Some nice annual flowers, perhaps? Or some of the larger heathers? If you choose some distinctive heather colours, these could contrast well with the leylandii.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.