Rock or alpine gardens mimic the rocky, steep habitat of high mountains, where high solar radiation during the summer and long, brutal winters produce an interesting effect on plants called ‘krumholtz:’ a stunted form of plant due to the harshness of freezing winds and rain. Plants often show a 'cushion' effect: low growing mounds that are low enough to stay out of the biting winds.
In this environment, plants welcome the shelter of larger rocks. the plants grow low to the ground and often have woolly leaves to deflect sunlight during the short growing season.
To mimic this look in a garden environment, utilize local stone as your base point. Think of rocks as your mulch for the garden. Build up soil and larger rocks to create slope. If your garden is already on the rocky side, embrace your rocky terrain as an advantage.
Tuck in plants from this list:
Install some of the plants next to large and medium sized rocks, and plant others in finer rocky substrate such as decomposed granite. Utilize crevices in between stone pavers and fill with recommended plants.