Garden Photo of the Day

Janet’s Rock Garden

A wall full of flowers

close up of stone wall with plants growing over the front

Eric Sternfels sent in today’s photos. We’ve visited Eric’s garden before (Summer in Eric’s Garden) but today he’s taking us along on a tour of a friend’s garden:

Here is a group of photos from the home of Janet in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia. Janet’s an officer of the North American Rock Garden Society – Delaware Valley Chapter.

small garden bed and stone retaining wall covered in plants and flowers

Rock gardening is all about growing little plants that thrive in the good drainage found in the cracks and crevices between rocks. This stone retaining wall is a carpet of color with all the wonderful little plants growing on it.

close up of stone wall with plants growing over the front

Looking down the wall from the other direction. Amazing what an abundance of plants and beauty grows in a space that would seem inhospitable.

close up of plants growing out of and on top of stone wall

Closer look at some of the beauties growing on and trailing down the wall. Not just any stone wall can be planted up like this, they have to be built with spaces for the plants to go

close up of pink flowers growing in stone wall

Lewisia cotyledon (Zone 5 – 8) is native to western North America, and thrives in the good drainage of the stone wall.

small succulent growing in stone wall with pink foliage plant growing above

A little succulent tucked into a space between the stones, while an ornamental oregano (Origanum sp., Zone 5 – 9) blooms above it.

garden trowel stuck in rock garden

A garden trowel gives a sense of scale to this rocks and the countless tiny plants growing on and around them. There is a whole miniature landscape here.

close up of small plant covered in bright purple flowers

Aubrieta (Zone 4 – 9) greets spring with masses of rich purple flowers.

close up various spring flowers in the garden

Spring bloomers from primroses (Primula species and hybrids, Zone 3 – 8) to fritillaria (Fritillaria meleagris, Zone 3 – 8) give an early show.

close up of succulents growing out of stone wall

Hens-and-chicks (Semperivium sp., Zone 4 – 8) making a thriving colony between the stones. These little hardy succulents are easy to keep happy as long as they have good drainage.


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    musabasjoosue 01/10/2024

    So much interest packed into a small space. What a labor of love! Thanks for sharing it, Eric!

  2. Oxdriftgardener 01/10/2024

    Fabulous! The wall itself is a masterpiece and the colours and textures of the plantings put it over the moon!

  3. User avater
    treasuresmom 01/10/2024

    That rock garden is amazing! Thanks for sharing, Eric.

  4. User avater
    simplesue 01/10/2024

    I love this rock garden! If it was in my neighborhood I'd take a walk by it all the time just to see it grow and go through seasonal changes! It's a work of art!

    1. nwphilagardener 01/12/2024

      I agree. And together with Janet's other beds around the relatively small urban parcel of land, there are many things blooming all the time.... even in winter.

  5. User avater
    cynthia2020 01/10/2024

    Eric - thanks to you and Janet for sharing this gorgeous garden and for showing both wide views and the precious fine details, too!

  6. Tingshu99 01/10/2024

    Wow, it looks like from the fairy tale. A magic wall of beautiful plants and flowers. Very impressive and unique. Never saw such a beautiful garden before.

  7. shegardens 01/11/2024


  8. btucker9675 01/11/2024

    Everything about this rock wall is fabulous - the wall itself and the amazing number of beautiful plants. Made my day!

  9. [email protected] 01/11/2024

    Not so fast! I need to know what plants I am looking at. What is the lavender colored plant spilling down the wall? Is it campanula? What is the name of the ground cover succulents below it at the corner. What is the name of the plant growing above the Aubrieta? What is the plant that is on top of the slope that is cartreuse in color? A really exceptional planting. I could look at it all day.

    1. nwphilagardener 01/12/2024

      There are definitely two lavender Campanulas in the wall. Serbian and Dalmatian Bellflower. And the chartreuse mound that appears above one of them is a dwarf Spirea 'Gold Mound'. Above the aubretia is an Epimedium 'Hot Lips' . Some of these plants are growing on mounds of Tufa stone, while the wall is made of local Wissahickon Schist I hope I can get Janet to weigh in if I've erred in this reply.

      1. [email protected] 01/12/2024

        Thanks! Whoever you are! I do like to keep track of the varietal names, and it is getting harder! My memory isn't what it once was and the plant world has mushroomed exponentially in this last 20 or so years. We have so many wonderful, new plants available now.

      2. Janet_N_Philly 01/14/2024

        This is Janet, the garden owner. To add to Eric's answer, the prominent bellflower spilling down the wall (in the foreground of the first photo) is Campanula portenschlagiana 'Reshold't Variety'. The succulent below it is a Sedum whose name was lost, but I'm guessing it's a Sedum album variety. Eric is correct that the plant above the Aubrieta is Epimedium 'Hot Lips'. Finally, is the chartreuse plant you're asking about the shrub in the first photo just left of the dark green mounded evergreen? That's Spiraea japonica 'Golden Elf'. It's a great plant, though not as tiny as advertised. The one in the photo gets hacked back to 6-8" every few years.

  10. nwphilagardener 01/12/2024

    Having submitted these photos to GPOD on gardener Janet's behalf, I should mention that the wall is made with locally quarried Wissahickon Schist. She and an artisan stone mason worked together during the wall's construction, laying bare-rooted plants into a well-draining medium behind it. Continuing to find places for alpine rock garden plants, many plants are divided and shared to continue to make room for new ones. I think there's opportunity to generate a new set for GPOD next year.

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