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Garden with a Winner!™

January 20, 2019- Rock On!

Perhaps one of the most commonly made errors in developing a new garden or rearranging an existing one is the use of rock(s) in the design. For a time, one could see gigantic boulders placed, I suppose strategically, in many front gardens, typically with either some statuary or a lamppost associated with it. Don’t misunderstand me, there is nothing inappropriate or distasteful in having a large rock in the landscape, however, it must be positioned as it would have been in nature.

To my way of thinking, a rounded granite boulder is out of place entirely unless your landscape is reflective of glacial deposits on the Canadian Shield.

Of the more useful rock types to incorporate into a landscape are the limestone and other sedimentary layered rocks, they offer a myriad of uses. This category of rock is typically in layers and can be more on the horizontal lines than vertical, many with weathered pockets excellent for planting. This lateral nature also makes it easier to stack the stone in such a manner to raise the height of the planting space without the bed looking like a volcano in the middle of your yard.

It is important to look at the stone(s) before placing them into the landscape as each one will have a bottom and a top, a front and a back. Avoiding the rules of nature and placing a stone upside down or back to the front will certainly give an artificial look to the finished project.

Some rocks are foundational while others exhibit characteristics and qualities that make them outstanding, these are the specimens that you use as the focal points. It isn’t necessary to show the entire rock in the design either, have you seen that in nature and found it appealing? Many, if not most rocks are buried below the soil with only the weathered, character portion visible, this is what you want to create in your design. Often simply one very well placed rock will convey exactly what you would like, take for example the classic Japanese gardens. Rock shopping or collecting is much like vehicle selection, we all have individual wants, needs, desires, so there is no fool proof methodology. Many retail garden centres and landscape lots will have large bins of rocks for you to look at. Don’t be shy and rumble your way through until you find just the right one, this may afford you some strange looks in process.

Wild collecting rocks is much more time consuming yet, if you have a property outside the city or access to land with permission, it can be lot of fun. Furthermore, the size of your l will cause limitations on how many rocks you collect. Make the day into a rock on picnic, a bottle of your favourite wine or beverages, snacks and treats and enjoy searching for the perfect rock to start your new garden.