My Garden Rocks

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Gathering moss

It really does! Alright, I admit that’s probably a subjective view. In fact, I’ve rarely seen a garden that doesn’t ‘rock’ in my eyes.

Seriously though, rocks have a place in even the tiniest garden. I think it’s all about textures. Textures, variations and their contrasts. Think soft leafy ferns juxtaposed with rocks or stones. What could be more pleasing? The softness of the plants offsets and complements the hard surface of rocks.

 

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Rock planter with ferns

 

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Outback rock cairn among my soft no-mow grass (Zoysia) 

 

On a recent walk I was captivated by some huge boulders used to landscape a high rise apartment building garden. It’s a difficult site for planting, situated at the Tweed River mouth as it is, and buffeted by  south-easterly winds which gather salt as they skim across the waves. Plants must be hardy to survive those conditions.

 

 

I couldn’t be sure these boulders were naturally formed though. The artificial stones now being used in landscaping projects are so convincingly real that they even gather moss. No rolling stones here.

Whether artificial or naturally formed, these boulders were impressive. One can no longer rely on some knowledge of natural geology or rocks indigenous to the area to determine authenticity either. Landscaping supplies, including boulders like the ones above, come from diverse sources these days and are used for both aesthetic and functional purposes.

Not far from where the boulders are, rocks have been imported to shore up the river banks. These are of a different variety, less for aesthetic purposes than for functional ones.

The Water Dragons don’t mind. They, along with other creatures, have made a home among them and their antics are a source of amusement for walkers along the embankment wall.

Being still as statues seems to be their defence; they are almost impossible to discern from their rocky perches. But the flick of an eyelid over black beady eyes, or tilt of a dragon-like head gives them away. Once discovered, they scoot on hind legs with lightning speed to the safety of a crevice.

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Eastern Water Dragon (Itellagama lesueurii)                       

I could almost have called this post ‘contrasts’ because that’s the notion I’ve wanted to explore. Contrast serves both a functional and aesthetic purpose in a garden. The ‘hard’ proving a foil for ‘the soft’ and vice versa. The light a contrast for the dark and so on. Of course there are always ‘shades’ between.  It’s the shades between sharply contrasting elements that I have learned to appreciate; in my garden and in life. They couldn’t exist without the extremes that allow their existence.

 

Life is about the gray areas. Things are seldom black and white, even when we wish they were and think they should be, and I like exploring this nuanced terrain.

Emily Giffin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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28 responses to “My Garden Rocks

  1. WOW that photo of the water dragon is stunning. I didn’t know such things existed in close proximity to people. you are so right about rocks being imported. not far from here they imported rock from Norway to shore up a harbour wall. You would love the geology in the NW of Scotland as it is so diverse with old lava flows and basalt columns near to each other.

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  2. i love Scotland and have been lucky enough to both kayak and cycle a large amount of territory there. I love the space and in summer the days are really long especially in the north with only about 3 hours of darkness.

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    • Lucky you. I expected the cycling but kayaking was a surprise. In the lochs or open coastline. Too rough surely? I’ve been watching a series set in Scotland – so scenic. The long daylight hours are a bonus.

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      • Mostly Coastal from around the Isle of Bute area up to the Summer isles. As you say , it can be dangerous and you have to be very careful. Memories of kayaking amongst dolphins off Skye and kayaking to the back of Fingles cave on Staffa are some highlights in my life

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  3. I do enjoy your musings. I have plenty of rock (granite) and ferns and moss in my garden. Looks very natural, like walking along a country lane (albeit a very short lane). And I do like your dragons – a fitting image on our National Day (St George) here in the UK.

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  4. Clever opening lines to go with that most unusual first photograph! About gardens, I never thought of objects being placed there for contrast, highlighting certain colors and emphasizing the importance of balance. I shall pay more attention as I walk through the neighborhood. Our own garden is pretty small, with not much variety. Also the live-in gardener doesn’t consult me about ideas or projects. I mostly compliment.

    I am a bit puzzled, even put-off at times, by the appearance of very large rocks at odd places on lawns in some newer developments. Smaller things, varied and interesting, might work well among plantings, but out there in the open the great slabs or jagged borders seem to be shouting something that I don’t care to hear.

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    • Thanks for your kind words Albert. I agree. Many landscaping projects both big and small, are spoiled by the inappropriate placement of rocks and boulders. I knew a landscape architect who harboured a pet hate for it. She called them dinosaur droppings because they were dropped anywhere with no regard for aesthetics. I liked your perception of these boulder placement errors as ‘shouting’ something you don’t care to hear. It made me chuckle because that’s exactly how they appear to me as well. It’s all about balance and proportion I think.

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  5. I live in an area of our state that has always been agricultural and there are lots of stone walls from when the farmers were tilling the soil and casting the stones off to the side to be used as a type of fencing. And I love the smooth stones we find on the beaches here. Our town beach is actually named Moonstone Beach. (That still, little dragon is priceless!)

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    • I’m imagining dry stone walls Clare. One of the things that give the countryside such character. Moonstone beach is a beautiful name and conjures up all sorts of magical images. I wonder if any of those smooth stones you’ve picked up on the beach have been moonstones.
      The water dragons abound here on the coast. Funny little creatures they are. I used to have a tame one which would take minced beef from my hand. A sudden move and he was up on his hind legs and away as quick as a flash.

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      • Robyn, I was just thinking of the comment about your being flattered by my love of your musings. I really do think your posts are filled with so many valuable thoughts and the photos of the plants and nature are gorgeous. And I truly believe you need to take these posts and put them into a book. Have you ever thought about it?

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      • Clare, I can’t believe I have been rattling on for two years now. There is an Australian author and academic, quite eccentric, who writes gardening anecdotes from a literary perspective that I admire. She has several books now about gardens she’s created. Her name is Kate Llewellyn. So there does seem to be a market for that sort of ‘non-expert’ thing. I do appreciate your encouragement and will look into it. 🙏

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