Wonderful rock gardens and unfamiliar plants

I had a conversation yesterday with a fellow Flinger (a local first-timer) where she asked, why would I come to an gardening area so different than mine?

Well, it’s basically to see plants and gardens in different venues, I said, and certainly today’s gardens were like that.  The rock garden aesthetic as shown in some of these gardens was SO different than anything I’d seen before, it had me thinking that maybe there’s a sub-culture of rock garden design.  But combining roses, irises, and peonies, with rock garden plants in other beds.  Hmm.  That’s definitely different, and the small-scale enjoyment of the rock garden — I’m not sure I’ve experienced anything quite like that in North America.  Alpine gardens in Northern European botanical gardens focus on alpines, and have a similar feel, but these rock garden plants are coming from Mediterranean climates.  A very hairy-stemmed Stachys was quite extraordinary, although I’ve appeared not to have taken a photo of it.

Here’s a sampling of vignettes from the gardens today.