Monday, March 12

Trash Day Dreams

Inspired by one of Mr. Brownthumb's amusing posts, I headed out into my yard this evening to pick up the trash that blew into my garden and was trapped there by the winter snows. It's too soon to really tidy the garden, as temperatures are falling back into the 20s this weekend. I might as well allow the clusters of fallen leaves and remains of last year's plants to insulate the sprouts at this point, since the snowcover is no longer around to provide protection.

I did notice that one of my hellebores is beginning to bloom, and I'm doubly excited because I made a wonderful discovery when I leaned down to inspect the white flower at close range. I thought I had lost its neighboring hellebore over the summer, but I spied distinctive little green fingers reaching their dark, sawtoothed edges out of the ground! It must just be testing my patience.

As I worked in the back, I noticed that my little creeping sedum, 'Chubby Fingers,' was beginning to green up again. It did turn a frosty green in the cold, but was nowhere near as interesting as Kylee's ghostly, blanched sedum. (Kylee, by the way, is herself a Blackswamp Girl--she lives maybe 10 minutes away from my parents' house. Small world!)

I know that many people like it, but I detest this retaining wall block in the same way that I detest all things plastic and particleboard. If I had the money for it, this would be a stacked stone wall--maybe giant chunks of sandstone, like those once used as edging by Rick over at Whispering Crane Institute.

Alas, I didn't buy a winning MegaMillions ticket last week, so I'm stuck with the stacked block. But the spilling sedum is giving me some ideas for making it much more livable. The bed it "holds up" is definitely stable enough for me to remove the top two layers of stone temporarily this spring. I will space the blocks much more irregularly, and plant some of my sedum sieboldii along with more of this 'Chubby Fingers' in the gaps between.

In any garden, I like it when it appears that nature is taking over in spite of man's best efforts. It's comforting somehow, and helping the plants invade the faux stone wall just seems like it's the right thing to do. Besides, there is plenty of cement in my tiny city garden already... and never too much green!


chuck b. said...

I think your plan to break up the stacked wall will work really well. Maybe try stacking some of them on their sides, and/or let a few jut out slightly too.

Letting the mind wander, I wonder if you could cleave couple in halves or thirds with a swing of a sledge hammer...or would they be smashed to useless bits? Maybe incorporating one or two of the same, or similar, style but different color..?

Sigh....brainstorming garden problems is so much more fun than brainstorming at work.

Kylee Baumle said...

I know what you mean about wanting natural stone for your walls. I would SO love to have that, too. If I find out about a good deal on some, I'll let you know!

I tried making mine irregular, but it just didn't come out right for me. It just looked like I didn't know what I was doing, but you're much more artistic than I am, and I have no doubt that yours will look fabulous!

Unknown said...

chuck, I think you need a special saw to cut them... but this is one of the two remaining parts of this wall that I mostly dismantled when I moved in, and I know that I pulled out a few partial blocks like those that you are talking about. Great idea.

You gave me another idea, too. I have unearthed many small, flat stones while digging around in my yard. I'm going to take several of them and slide each one underneath one half of a brick so that it doesn't set quite straight. You won't even see them once the sedum spreads over...

Kylee, anything in particular that you tried to make it seem irregular that didn't look quite right to you? Any advice for avoiding pitfalls is appreciated!

By the way, Mom and Dad got some nice flagstones from the quarry in Gilboa two years ago. It still wasn't cheap, but it wasn't nearly as expensive as getting them at a nursery. You could call them to see if the price might be worth the drive?

MrBrownThumb said...

Hi Blackswamp_Girl,

You just inspired (or reminded) me to go check on my garden. Over a year ago I bought two sedums and I haven't seen them for the longest time. They were so small they were easy to forget.

BTW did you see my entry on Craigslist adding a farm+garden section? Well they added a materials section too and sometimes I see people giving away stone and paving material in the free section or the barter section.

One of my friends in another state just got a free greenhouse off of craigslist.

Kristen said...

I was at last night and noticed that there were several blogs from this area that I had listed on my blog that were not on their list. I found the submission email address and added yours to the list. Today I received an email that they were added. You are listed as Black Swamp Girl rather than A Study in Contrasts. I am letting you know in case you want to make the correction or be removed.

Anonymous said...

Look in the back of retail stone yards or Garden Centers for busted or partial pallets, most times you can cut a good deal if there are trying to clean up the area/lot.

Or wait till I but a truckload and chip in :)

Ki said...

Great that you have blooms on your hellebore. The past cold spell all but did ours in. We are left with a brown mess, yecch! I thought hellebores were tougher than that.

Carol Michel said...

I am jealous of your hellebores blooming. I have some nice buds, but no blooms, yet.

Gotta Garden said...

Isn't it pretty! Hellebores are so cheery bursting out when almost nothing else dares!

Okay, I have to tease a bit...I overabundance of green...and may I say that it covers things well...would just slide right over and totally hide some of your castlewall stones (as it has mine...although, in my wasn't my preference)'s very natural...and as I gaze about my garden, especially the's all I see. Shall I send you some?? I have boatloads to spare...oh, what is it, you ask?? ...ha....common chickweed...

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