"The stems are faithful to the root That worketh out of view, And to the rock the root adheres In every fibre true."

A rock-garden, even in a simple way, is a great joy, and there is no reason why we should not try to possess one even in a town or in the suburbs. Writers in the best horticultural papersare sometimes a little discouraging; they tell us that the rock-garden near a house is out of place, and that it should never be made near trees, nor buildings, nor any other objects, but stand apart in stony isolation; they also tell us by no means to make a rockery ourselves, any more than we should try to mend a broken limb without the doctor: we are to call in an experienced garden-artist blessed with good taste, a knowledge of rocks, and the requirements of Alpine plants.

No doubt, the owners of large grounds and long purses will do well to take this advice, but people must cut their coats according to their cloth, and no one who does not mind taking a little trouble need despair. It is not so very difficult a matter to build a home for, and to get together, a pretty collection of Alpine and other rock-plants. One's pains are well repaid, for no class of growing things is more interesting; besides this, we shall be in the fashion.

In our own garden, which I have said before is not a large one (close to other people's houses, and much too full of trees), we have contrived to make two rock-gardens, one in shade and one in sunshine. Neither of them is far from our own house, and one is much too near some Fir trees; but the plants do not seem to mind either of these things in the very least.

The first thing we have to consider in establishing a rockery (after settling where to place it) is the rock, and "rock," as we all know, is geology for every kind of earth and stone. Limestone is about the best rock we can choose; there are so many plants that love to live in it, and it is easier to procure than granite. Need it be said that we must not dream of using clinker? Stone is a little difficult to get, and dear to buy and cart about, but we lighted upon a cunning plan in getting ours. We looked up a neighbouring builder, and for a trifle and the cartage he let us have a number of disused steps and sinks and stones that came out of old houses, and to him were so much lumber; they were just the thing for us, and were already nicely weathered.

I think we knew the right way to build a rockery, for we had read many papers on the subject in The Garden, and also possessed miss Jekyll's delightful book on " Wall and Water Gardens," the pictures in which are very helpful; and though we could not do all the best things that might be done, for want of room, we succeeded fairly well, but we had to superintend and do all except the heavy work ourselves. No gardener of the ordinary jobbing or suburban type can be trusted to make a rockery.

The natural soil of our garden made drainage requisite, so we began with that; then we laid in a store of loam, a little leaf-mould, and a great deal of coarse sand. Rock-plants look as if they grew on the surface, lying on it like water-flies upon a stream. This appearance is deceitful; they have particularly long roots, which strike down any distance in search of food. No one, therefore, need expect to have a successful rockery who first dumps his stones down in a heap, and then piles the earth on the top of them. Each stone or piece of rock must be planted firmly, ends pointing downwards, as in building a flint wall, so that roots can run down easily through the soil between them; and it is best to work after a plan, arranging the "rock" in a sort of orderly disorder like a stratification, with here and there a "fault." So anxious were we to make our rockery look natural, that we referred to one of Mr. Geikie's geology books, and chose our style of stratification from that.

A Rockery

A Rockery

It was a long time before we managed to place the stones exactly to our minds, but we did succeed at last, after one or two trials and a few alterations. Then came a period of waiting till things had settled down. We gave temporary lodgings among the rocks to tufts of London Pride, the pretty pink Saxifrage, that so well deserves its name and is so invaluable a plant in any difficult garden, as it will grow anywhere and remains in bloom so many months. Creeping Jenny was another stop-gap, quite as hardy as London Pride, and flowering almost directly after you plant it, if it is given a little water and some sunshine; Lung-wort and common Campanulas we put in too, with odds and ends of all the weedy things that inhabit every garden and consider themselves, as it were, joint owners of it. We robbed the Herb-border, too, of bits of gold and silver Thyme, that so much loves growing on a bank and is so fragrant; these latter were allowed to stay, and we would have had Balm too, had space permitted.

Later on came a visit to Mr. Barr's nursery-ground, from whence we drove home the richer by a number of little sandy pots, in each pot a treasure. Whenever I visit this flowery region in search of Daffodils, I never can find time to admire the Daffodils because of being so taken up with rock plants. They are grown so beautifully here; with nothing but flat fields to work upon, a stretch of rocks has been imported into them so skilfully as to wear a very natural look, and one cannot walk among them without taking an object-lesson on the beauty of bold effects. After falling in love with wide expanses of trailing, creeping, rooting, and clinging Alpine and native rock-plants, one can visit the open frames where small pieces of them are growing in pots. Nothing could be more convenient or pleasanter than the choosing of these and the bearing of them away in safety to individual hearts and homes. Grown in pots, the most delicate things can be moved in safety.

The great danger among so much that attracts is that of being tempted to buy more sorts and kinds of plants than can have justice done them in a small garden; much wiser is it to choose but a few of the best, and let those have space to grow and spread. A cranny can always be found for any rarity, but no "scrappy" rockery, any more than a "scrappy" garden, will ever make for beauty.