In the garden, one thing follows another until it gets complicated. For example, my husband Lou gave me a beautiful copper fire bowl for my birthday two summers ago. We couldn’t use it on the deck because it gets too hot underneath for the wood. We couldn’t use it on the stone patio, because that’s roofed by the grape arbor—no smoked grapes for us.
So last year, in order to use our fire bowl, I ended up creating a new area paved with small river stones over sand—the cheapest possible covering—in front of the deck stairs.
But there was always a problem—the yard slopes down at that point. I needed a proper step down. Now that my garden will be on The Garden Conservancy Open Day on July 7, I have to finish that grade change.
Sergio Millan took on the step building process. I had bought wall blocks as seconds in a stone yard, and I had some pavers left over from the circle garden, so Sergio labored in the rain to build a proper step down.
I had already started a small rock garden in the middle of the stony patio space, and I wanted to expand it. When I saw the long expanse of the step Sergio was creating, I liked the idea that the rock garden would break the line of it, as if the natural rocks were bursting through the pavers, like water over a falls, sort of dancing down the slope—rock dancing?
So after Sergio finished gluing the pavers together, I searched the garden for just the right rocks to finish the look. My garden is full of basalt rocks, all sizes, mostly left over from the original stone walls. I’m constantly moving them around as stepping stones, or creating slightly elevated areas within beds.
Working with stone is so satisfying. I slow down, only thinking about right now—is this rock the right shape for what I need? I didn’t know how I was going to finish it, but I thought I’d recognize when it happened, and I did.
Finally, I finished it. The last piece to go in was a bit of pumice—I found it in another wall, but I have no memory of how it got there. Perhaps one of the kids brought it home from a camping trip in eastern Oregon.
I planted a tiny skinny Chamycyparis from the home of rare conifers, Iseli Nursery, at one end—it will grow a couple of inches a year—and the blue-gray small rosettes of Cape Blanco sedum at the other. Now the rock garden just needs tweaking—and of course, more plants. # # # #