Saturday, October 3, 2020

The Rock Whisperer

 If it weren’t for the rocks in its bed, the stream would have no song.

~Carl Perkins



 I am told there is a rock whisperer here on the island. I believe it. I have seen examples of his work. His rock walls are a beautiful sight to behold, built to perfection, like they came out of a mold or something. Stunning.

 Well, I make no claims of being a rock whisperer, that’s for sure, but I do see beauty in rocks.  Rocks are unending in variation in color, shape, size, intricate patterns and composition. I am fascinated when I really take the time to quietly examine rocks.

 Some gardeners view rocks with rancor, as if the presence of rocks somehow spoils the garden. They toss them into an ever-growing heap somewhere out of sight, never to be seen again or enjoyed, never to be utilized.

 One or more previous keepers of this yard had such an opinion of rocks. Waaayyy back in the furthest, darkest corner of the property I found the gathering of the rocks.


 It was about 4 feet wide by 10 feet long until a massive maple trunk ended it. Then it grew taller, as more rocks had been tossed on top. And it went deeeep. A privacy screen of lilac and forsythia was there too. Trunks, weeds, dead branches, dried leaves and the rocks all snarled into a congested, unattractive muddle.


  I don’t know which came first the rocks or the shrubs but both were vying for space. Since it is the darkest corner of the yard, the forsythia and lilac didn’t bloom. They need sun, after all. So, picture a dark corner with overgrown yet leggy shrubbery and piles of rocks. Not a pretty sight. True enough, it is where I located my composting operations, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be gardenly.

 Where others saw a place for discarded rocks, I see a deeply shaded corner space that would grow 4 lovely Fatsia japonica for the privacy screen, anchored by a green skirt of billowy ferns and heleborus underneath. 

The variegated Fatsia “Camouflage” variety will be perfect here. Its light green variegation on the leaf will brighten the dark area. It is a shade plant that will grow  about 8 feet tall under the maple’s canopy and wide enough to provide the privacy between neighboring yards. The ferns too will love this shady space. It is fairly dry, being under a huge maple, so I will choose ferns that like their roots a little on the drier side. It would not make sense to plant fern species here that need constantly moist soil. Right plant, right place makes a gardener’s life easier.

 Rocks have their purpose and I like to find attractive ways to use them. Their uses depend on their size. So, I cleared out a lot of the rocks and sorted them somewhat by size. Afterall, I can think of lots of interesting things to do with rocks. I bet you can too.







This narrow row hugging the steps (above) stops water runoff from washing away a lot of soil on a steep slope.


 In bloom in my garden today: helianthus Lemon Queen, salvia, coreopsis, sedum, lobelia, rose, nepeta, kirengeshoma, penstemon, hesperaloe, asclepias, hardy geranium, fuchsia, aster, oregano, calendula, verbena bonariensis, thyme, hydrangea

 Authors photos


sharibecht said...

I love that path with the rocks and the log slice steppers! Genius! I too enjoy rocks. I think that is one of the things that drew me to the landscape of the SW US. Before we moved, we came for a quick visit and stayed at a placed called "The Boulders" that had such unique fascinating old rock formations.

Love your new header photo with the cairn! :)

Joan said...

Hi Shari!
I am glad you like the rocks and wood combination. I just love using natural elements in the garden when I can, especially when they are just lying around waiting to be used.
The Boulders sounds like a beautiful place. Stay tuned...there is a post coming featuring some boulders in my yard. I love them too and sometimes just stop to stare at them.
Thanks for reading!!