rock garden, garden planned around natural rock formations or rocks artificially arranged to simulate natural (often mountainous) conditions. The concept of rock gardens is believed to have been introduced from China and Japan into the Western world in the 17th cent.; they have since gained wide popularity as an ideal method for the cultivation of mountain flora and for beautifying hilly, stony, or other awkward terrain. Rock plants usually have long roots that enable them to obtain moisture even when the surface is hot and dry. Low plants requiring well-drained conditions are suited to rock gardens: besides alpine plants, these include stonecrops and species of columbine, phlox, bluebell, and rockrose.
See E. B. Anderson, Rock Gardens (1964), and H. L. Foster, Rock Gardening (1968).