I'll never look at a rock the same way again.
A few weeks ago, I posted a blog about growing rocks on my property. I pondered the idea of selling them, or getting the government to pay me for not growing them. But that was before my high school chum, Annette, started my western garden. The rocks have found a home.
Annette is a whiz at designing and implementing garden plans. When she visited me in the spring, she took some pictures of the area I wanted to beautify, then made some sketches and came up with an idea. She starts with one idea, but it grows and multiplies as she digs. That, and the fact that we only work on it when she's here, make the garden a work in progress.
She has a gift. I wish I shared it. But it's all I can do to dig a few holes. Annette did 95% of the work, starting last spring and continuing when she was here in August for our 50th high school reunion. We wanted the area to be a desert garden, but admittedly, we've taken a few liberties. That's why I call it my western garden instead. The plants in it require little maintenance, which suits my lifestyle.
Phase One included a rough outline of a dry stream bed and three small yucca plants. The sales lady at Lowe's tried to be humorous with that purchase. "Yucca, yucca, yucca," she said, when I told her we had three of them. Annette outlined the yuccas and the dry stream bed with rocks found around my house. We put a small spill pot in place, too.
Phase Two took place this trip, when she "planted" huge rocks and smaller ones in the bed, found prettier rocks to outline it, and filled in with store-bought pond pebbles. I use the term, "planted," because that's what she calls it. She likes for them to look as if they are growing out of the ground, not just lying on top of it. We also planted rocks in various positions throughout the garden, and put Mexican heather, yellow purslane and red portulaca (moss rose) throughout for some annual color. The red and yellow flowers look so natural tumbling out of the spill pot.
On a return trip to a local garden shop, we found some light-green monkey grass, the kind that doesn't take over your garden, two cone flower plants and two sedums. I actually planted the monkey grass myself!
We went next door and dug up some prickly-pear cactus, with my neighbor's permission. Despite wearing gloves, we each got "prickled," and those tiny barbs can really sting. We tried to get samples with roots, but we're not sure how well they'll take to their new home. If they die, no problem, there are plenty more where those came from.
There's still work to be done, including propping some old wooden fence rails up and marking a path up to my former hot tub deck. I hope to find a few western garden ornaments when we pass through Texas and Arizona on our Route 66 road trip next spring. We're also planning to add more monkey grass among the rocks outlining the stream bed, and some type of low-growing ground cover to fill in some areas.
Most of the rocks came from my property. Some are pretty slabs of limestone left over from the construction of the retaining wall behind my house. We wore ourselves out hauling those rocks until I enlisted one of my tenants' help.
I've never been much of a gardener, but after this experience, I see possibilities everywhere. I had already planted a rosemary bush on either side of my retaining wall steps. Now I want to add more rosemary, then plant money grass along the top edge of the wall. I can envision caladiums behind the boulders under a tree at one end of the wall.
Annette suggested a bench at the top of my western garden. I can envision that, too. I could sip my morning coffee and watch the butterflies land in my garden. And the rocks I encounter during my walks to the barn have taken on a new meaning.
Thanks, Annette, for adding color to my haven of woods and