An attractive arrangement of containers is an ideal way to enjoy many rock garden plants. This collection in our friend Carol's garden includes some frost sensitive succulents that can be moved to a sheltered location during winter months.
A grouping of containers of alpine and rock garden plants that can be placed outdoors in summer and into the cool greenhouse in winter. Although they only last a few seasons, we often use terra cotta containers because they are porous and drain water quickly which allows rock garden plants to breathe.
Another terra cotta container with a young Nordmann Fir (Abies nordmanniana) and the trailing gray foliage of a Catmint (Nepeta phyllochlamys). Many trees and shrubs grow slowly when confined in containers and grown in low fertility soils (think bonsai) which makes them ideal companion plants for alpines and rock garden plants.
Repeating with the same container color, size or shape can create an interesting effect.
We created an alternative to a hypertufa trough by planting this terracotta container with a variety of rock garden plants, including trailing Penstemon caesptiosus var. caespitosus and perennial Alyssum, as well as gray leaved Arizona Bladderpod (Lesquerella arizonica). Note that we placed the container on bricks to keep the drainage holes from becoming clogged over time.
The vivid flowers and slow growth rate of Cliff Penstemon (Penstemon rupicola) make it a rewarding container plant.
Small, slow-growing alpines can be overrun by larger plants when grow in the open garden. This yellow flowering Draba with a white granite grit topdress is a good example of an alpine specimen plant.
Canyon Liveforever (Dudley cymosa) with tan quartzite topdress.
This Autumn Gentian (Gentiana sino-ornata) filled the pot with color over many weeks in fall when few plants were in bloom.
Uncommon plants such as this Campanula zoysii can be grown in a container and placed at eye level for ongoing enjoyment. The rock topdress here is #3 turkey grit which is often available at farm supply stores.