Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Moving Rocks

What we learn with pleasure we never forget.
~Alfred Mercier

This triangular shaped bed contained an ornamental plum which was way too big of a tree choice to be planted in a space of this size. Before we moved in it had been pruned on two sides to keep it away from the house and gutters. That made it grow vertical sprouts over 2/3s of its canopy and normal outward branches on the side that didn’t get pruned. The unpruned side became heavy and was the leeward side so wind could potentially topple this tree. I decided early on it would have to come out.

The bed also contained Helleborus, Sedum, and Ajuga reptans. Being adjacent to a walkway the Ajuga had to be relocated. Anytime you plant near a sidewalk you will be happier if you don’t choose plants that have a far-reaching habit. Ajuga is great for carpeting large areas quickly but here it was in a pretty confined space. It spreads by reaching out in all directions with new stem growth that roots when it touches the soil. At a sidewalk it will quickly overrun it’s borders and you will have created more work for yourself because you will have to keep cutting it back.

As for the tree, I had a tree service come cut the tree down. It is fine to leave the stump in this case, as I can plant around it and it will rot in time. I am not a fan of chemical use but to leave a stump in place to rot over time, you may have to apply a chemical to the freshly cut stump to stop it from re-sprouting. It depends on what type of tree it is. Here I used a chemical herbicide on the cut end only. Minimal use.


Then I took out all the Helleborus and Ajuga in that bed. Being a shade loving plant, I relocated some of the Helleborus to a shadier spot, since the tree was providing shade in that bed. The majority of them I gave away to neighbors.

The bed was edged with large rocks on all three sides. It is a slightly raised bed toward the middle where the tree trunk was. The rock placement didn’t really do anything for the bed. I kept tripping on some because they lined the walkways on two sides and stepping on others near the water faucet, so I pulled them all out and set them aside in a pile. In so doing I was surprised to find they were lava rock and super lightweight.

As I was contemplating how to plant my now empty and raked bed with the stump in the middle, the word “outcropping” kept coming to mind.

So, that’s what I did.

I started by planting those lava rocks. Outcropping also creates little pockets that stabilize slopes and hold water better for your plants. Whenever you use rocks in the landscape, they should be buried up to 1/3 deep so they look natural. You “plant” your rocks, don’t just lay them on top.

Then I added in some plant divisions from my former garden, and a couple of new plants, one that I purchased and one that was a gift from our realtor and friend Gina . Best. Realtor. Ever!

Last but not least I topped it all off with a clay pot, which I balanced on top of the stump with soil and rocks. Can’t even see the stump now and it will rot over time.

What do you think? I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. Now I need to go shopping for a vine maple which I will plant behind the pot for some vertical interest, fall color and will provide annual leaf mulch. Even at a mature size, a vine maple is a good choice for this space and it won’t require pruning to keep in confined.

And if you are lucky enough to find a fantastic tree guy as I did, he won’t roll his eyes when you ask if it would be too much to ask him to cut some of the trunk into stepping stone size thickness for your use in other parts of the garden. Well it never hurts to ask, right?
Thanks Rich at Signature Tree Service !   You made my day!

 In Bloom in My Garden Today: Cuphea Vermillionaire, Lobelia laxifolia, Gillenia, Yarrow, Potentilla, Sedum, Oregano, Daisy, Rose, Thyme, Dianthus, Nepeta

Authors photos

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