The Rock Garden, established in 1983, traces its origin to the late Marjorie and George Walsh of Daystar Nursery who fulfilled a long standing interest by the Arboretum to have a collection of plants frequently associated with harsher environments and poor soils. Many of the original plants came from the Walsh’s personal collection.
This collection demonstrates the diversity, beauty, hardiness and utility of plant species that have evolved and adapted to tolerate thin mineral soils, periods of prolonged dryness, and direct sun light.
Virtually every season presents something interesting to observe at the Rock Garden. Soon after the snow melts, flowers begin appearing. Early flowering is an adaptation to set seed in an environment where the growing season is short. You will also notice brightly colored and abundant flowers, designed to attract pollinators where conditions such as high winds or even clouds might make it difficult for pollinators to locate the flowers. Flowers found here are often aromatic, another strategy for attracting pollinators. Succulent leaves, thick and often filled with fluid, provide a source of water plants growing in environments where water is scarce. A wax coating on leaves reduces water evaporation. Many plants adapted to living in windy conditions hug the ground to avoid being uprooted, damaged by winter ice and further reduce moisture loss.