Create micro climates
Here is another view of the structure. Notice that we designed it for easy access and close up viewing from all sides. The irregular shape of the tufa rock garden creates many micro-climates with varying amounts of sun and shade as well as exposure to the elements. There are some overhangs where plants such as Primula marginata can be tucked and protected from winter moisture.
Plant the crevices
We worked plants into the crevices between the rocks, selecting plants from either limestone regions or areas with low fertility, alkaline soils. I found it helpful to use my Japanese hori hori gardening knife to create the planting voids and help insert plants. Where soils seemed unstable, we wedged small pieces of tufa between rocks to hold plants and soil in place.
In the crevices on the more protected and cooler north and east sides we planted Primula allionii 'Airemist', P. auricula hybrids, P. marginata, Campanula cochlearifolia, Leontopodium sp., Saxifraga cartilagenea, S. x burnatii, Asplenium scolopendrium, Androsace sarmentosa 'Chumbyi', Telesonix jamesii, and Heuchera pulchella.
In the more exposed and warmer southern and western facing crevices, we planted Veronica oltensis, Cheilanthes argentea, Gypsophila aretoides, Linaria alpina, Aethionema glaucinum, Draba condensata, Antennaria alpina, Pinus aristata, and Penstemon davidsonii v menzisii.
Topdress with Grit
Finally, we topdressed the garden with screened tufa gravel for a cohesive look. The tufa rock garden has the warm, sun drenched color of some of the beautiful limestone buildings in Europe. The dimensions of the completed garden is 9 feet long by 6 feet wide by 3 1/2 feet high.
How to drill and plant in tufa
Learn more about tufa and its unique properties in our Tufa Blog.