To the right of the main entrance to Rockome Gardens were the Sunken Gardens, the oldest part of the park. The gardens are three to five feet below the level of the surrounding area. In 1937, tenant farmer Ed Seitz cleared out a former hog wallow here and built two long concrete walls along the north and south and his wife Mabel planted the flowers. Landowner Arthur Martin was impressed with the results and encouraged and helped the Seitz's to expand the garden area and add rock-encrusted planters and paths, and Rockome Gardens was born.
Elvan Yoder, who bought the property in 1958, added placards with Amish aphorisms to the Sunken Gardens. These alternate between folksy proverbs and sentimental verses about gardening:
"If you growl all day...it's only natural that you will feel dog tired at night"
"A kiss of the sun for pardon
A song of a bird for mirth,
One is nearer God's heart in a garden,
Than anywhere else on earth."
"There are two kinds of voters. Those who support your candidate and a lot of stupid, ignorant prejudiced fools."
The old concrete walls and stone planters are falling apart in some places, but the Sunken Gardens are generally well preserved and give an idea of the style of the pre-theme-park Rockome Gardens.
Most of the walls at Rockome are decorated only with crushed rock, but in the corner of the Sunken Gardens are some walls decorated with colorful broken pottery. These walls must be more recent because they are embedded with broken souvenirs from Rockome Gardens! A curious bit of self-reflective rock garden tourism.