I’ve always loved stone walls—with a special fascination for dry stone walls. My original plan was to install a dry stone wall along the side of the property. I thought it would provide extra gardening space and some interest. But, 140 feet is a long way, and the house is stone, so that started to feel like a lot of hardscape. So, I decided to do a rock border to keep the grass from creeping onto the sidewalk and stone “piers” for trees and shrubs.
Here in the great glacial plain of the Midwest, farmers are still finding stones in the fields. They collect them in big piles so they don’t damage the equipment. My friend, Betsy, has just such a pile on her land, and she has been kind enough to let me pick through the pile for the last few years to gather rocks for my border. I make a few trips every summer and work on about ten feet at a time.
Last summer, I removed an overgrown honeysuckle from the west side of the sunroom. It was too close to the house and really leggy. I installed a lilac, Albert Holden, toward the sidewalk to give some shade and privacy for the sunroom (eventually) and to provide a more level walkway through the gardens. (The honeysuckle was so huge I had to walk part way down the hill to get around it.) The stones for Albert’s pier took three trips to the farm, I think.
This year, I installed a tiny juniper a few yards to the north of the lilac. I thought it would be nice contrast against the brick of the fireplace. Another trip out to Betsy’s farm for stones and my July 4th project was complete!
This week, the weather broke, and I was able to get outside and work on the border again. (That’s not the kind of work I like to do when it’s 95 degrees with a dewpoint of 75.) I worked on the section between the two piers and was nervous about how the stones would fit and whether I’d have a huge gap at one pier or the other. But, I was really pleased when every stone fit perfectly into place! I could hardly believe it! The heart-shaped rock really fit better on its side, but I like that when people walk by they notice the heart shape, so I’m glad I stuck it in that way.
There’s one section to go and that’s the project for Labor Day weekend. My plan is to use the flag stone that I took out from the east side of the house and make some steps to get from the sidewalk to the water. (That was going to be my first project of the year, but it got so hot so quickly, I kept putting it off.)
I’m using mostly hosta in the shady parts of the hill. I’ve used lupines and geraniums in one of the sunny sections and lavender and salvia in the other sunny section. So far, this is one garden that looks exactly the way my mind imagined it.