Image showing metal path to bridge in the rock garden

Rock Garden

Search for tiny treasures nestled amongst the rocks and spot miniature bulbs with delicate, flawless flowers

A stunning collection of cacti and succulents

Discover minuscule plants that were originally collected by passionate plant-hunters on the tops of Earth’s mountain ranges. Admire architectural cacti and succulents from South America. Learn how seemingly unusual characteristics are actually amazing adaptations that help these plants grow successfully in harsh or different environments.

Check to see if the wonderful Ceiba speciosa is flowering – guess why it has quirky common names including palo borracho or ’drunken stick’, monkey no climb or silk floss tree. Here also find the iconic Aloe barberae dotted around the garden, and the mysteriously named Dragon’s Blood tree (Dracaena draco).

The sunny, sheltered, free-draining conditions in the rock gardens support a diverse range of succulents, bulbs, perennials and trees. Look carefully and you can find something different, exquisite and interesting here at any time of the year. Some of the more common of these plants, if commercially available, would grow successfully in your Auckland home garden too. 


Echeveria secunda

 Echeveria secunda


Rock Gardens are traditionally planted and arranged to best showcase interesting miniature and dwarf plants. They are thoughtfully planted according to the particular cultural requirements of the species and provide year-round seasonal highlights.

At Auckland Botanic Gardens the Rock Garden has a sunny, north-eastern facing aspect, with raised beds retained by basalt boulders that provide unique microclimates suitable for a diversity of smaller alpines, perennials, bulbs and trees with varied growing requirements. This leads to a dry rocky slope featuring many architecturally striking plants from South, Central and North America. Succulents predominate, particularly Aloe, Agave and Yucca species.

Agave guadalajarana

Agave guadalajarana

Gardening Tips for Rock Gardens
Sternbergia lutea

Sternbergia lutea 

  • Good drainage is essential for most bulbs, perennials and succulents in Auckland gardens.
  • Heavy soils can be prevented from waterlogging by incorporating a generous layer of gritty material such as coarse sand.
  • Microclimates may need to be modified to suit a plant e.g. with additional rocks, adding compost or free-draining media such as pumice sand.
  • Placing gritty material around bulbs when planting can assist them to survive wet conditions during dormancy.

Auckland Botanic Garden curates valuable plants from this collection that may no longer be commercially available. We also maintain plants of conservation significance.


Horticulturalists at Auckland Botanic Gardens are trialing and assessing plants in this collection for their specific cultural requirements including drought-resistance and evaluating their suitability for living roofs.

For more information or recommendations please contact us.


Not accessible – paths are narrow and steep.