Saturday, May 24

Sunshine, Pathways, Locks & Stones (pt. 2)

In my previous post, I got a little carried away with showing off the garden in Saturday's rare sunshine. But eventually, I did take advantage of the cool, sunny day and even got some hard labor accomplished... so I'll continue my chronicle of Saturday's work here in part 2.

Project #1: A Floor for the Grape Arbor

I tend to work with materials on hand whenever I can, both to save on money and to cut down on waste. So when I first concocted my scheme of creating a little floor/patio of sorts beneath the grape arbor, I figured that I would break up the concrete next to the veggie garden bed at the same time. That way, I could simply reuse the concrete chunks beneath the grape arbor.

Luckily, before that could happen, I remembered the pretty cut stones that make up part of the pathway to the compost bins behind the garage. Most of the newer sidewalks in my suburb are poured cement, but the older ones are cut stone. So my guess is that these were remnants from a sidewalk refurbishing project.

The stones were mossy and slippery in their shady spot, and what's worse is that they were completely hidden from view. So I pulled the largest ones out and eventually arranged them in an asymmetrical pattern that I like, with pockets inside and around the edges for specific plants. Since it will be rarely used (just to check and harvest grapes, and weed around the plants) and I want a rustic/old look, I didn't bother setting the stone in anything other than the native dirt.

Once the rest of the posts are up, the floor is finished, the groundcovers are introduced, the ferns and epimedium are replanted, and the fence is stained... this will look like a whole different area, worthy of the pretty stones. And the cement that was to have been used here will just be crushed into smaller pieces and mixed in with the rest of the driveway gravel behind the garage to replace these stones. A win-win, as far as I'm concerned!

Project #2: Making a Path To/Through the Blue Locks

I could swear that I've shown these blue industrial shelves before, but I can't find the post... so the quick explanation is that they are trashpicking finds that I am using as a fun, recycled pathway material in the backyard.

**Edited to add: Thanks to Annie in Austin for finding my old post for me! If you're so inclined, you can read about the origins of this project in a post from last November, here.**

The first step was to clear and level the ground, and then I was able to lay out the pathway. The shelves are sturdy metal, but the blue enamel paint is chipping off in a couple of places, so I brought them inside this past winter and probably will continue to do so in the future.

I'll be building a simple 1-by cedar frame that each shelf will slip over when it gets placed in the garden. Inside the frame will be either paver base or decorative pebbles.--I'm not sure which, but am leaning toward the former. The frames will help me remember where each shelf will go, and they will also help keep the filler contained.

I can't do much more with the shelves right now until the frames are built, but at least I can start planting around them. Various culinary thymes, a few more salvias, and lots of veggies--red cabbage, carrots, beets, etc.--are going to be placed around here. And in those two, um, "circular metal planters" I am going to plant a couple of my treasured, rarer varieties of sedum. (Can anyone ID what those circles used to be? 1000 Cool Points for the first correct guess!)

Project #3: Lining the Locks with Stone

The first two blue shelves in the pathway I just laid span two of the three "dry locks" that Brian and I dug out last fall. At the bottom of the smaller picture below, you can see the shelf spanning the middle lock. The deepest lock is about knee-deep, the shallowest is about ankle-deep, and the middle one bridges the two. They are all connected by thin "channels," hence me thinking of them as "locks" instead of "ponds."

This is my take on the whole dry streambed xeriscape design, and is also reflective of my love of the water in general. So the locks are all planted with various blue- and purple-leaf plants.

Deep Lock has the darkest plants, including the deep-hued 'Metallica Crispa' ajuga. Middle Lock has silene maritima in its shallower end and sedum sieboldii in the deep part. Shallow Lock graduates from 'Blue Spruce' sedum in the "channel," to sedum pachyclados, to the tiny (and adorable) blue sedum hispanicum near the "shore."

Last year, I started using retaining wall block to line/mark the smallest of the locks, but it became quickly apparent that manufactured block was not going to cut it, aesthetically. I am lucky to have a source for free rocks (work lets me take them from the property around my office, as long as I haul them away on my own time) and so I have been working to line all three of the locks with pretty rocks to help stabilize their walls.

Here you see some of the rocks that I appropriated from work last week--the cool black rock in the middle was tapped for a slightly higher profile spot--and once I get them all laid out in a good arrangement, I'll work at digging parts of them into the ground and filling in around them with dirt to make them look more natural in their settings.

So a lot of work was started during this beautiful May Saturday... but I'll admit that none of it was actually finished just yet. There's still a lot to do, so hopefully we have a few more beautifully cool and sunny days in which to work.

When those days do come, my Gardening Assistant will have a lot more supervising to do. She'd better be ready to get her fuzzy butt in gear... and, preferably, off of my sedum! :)


Lisa at Greenbow said...

My goodness Kim you have quite the challenge going here. It will be very nice when complete. I am so envious that you have rocks at your disposal. I would be in heaven with that arrangement.

Coco is much like Luna. She lies on anything that is near where we are working or sitting. Just gotta keep an eye on them. It must be cooler to lie on top of vegetation.

Annie in Austin said...

Hi Kim,

Were those round things some kind of sewer pipe flange? Or maybe it's just a similar shape.
I think the post you're looking for is from last November. You'd originally talked about some kind of grate at a garden show, then found these.
Boy, cut stone sidewalks! Now there's an advantage of an old neighborhood! Very cool reuse of metal, stone and rocks, indeed, but now I have the chorus to "Erie Canal" stuck in my head.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Unknown said...

Greenbow Lisa, they're so funny, aren't they?! Coco usually lays on the grass but she has lately been branching out. This patch of sedum, which was to be relocated to the front yard until I noticed how much the pooch enjoys it, and a similar sized patch of dianthus further back, are her new "spots."

I think that since they're low patches of the same plant species, she probably figures they're fair game. As long as she doesn't lay on any taller perennials and break them off, that's fine with me!

Annie, very good guess--I can certainly "see" that in their shape/size. But not quite right. Thank you for pointing me to the right post, by the way. I realized last night, after a good 25 minutes of searching, that my post titles are a little too obscure--I need to keep future reference in mind when I am typing them, I think.

I'll have to YouTube that song so I can hear what you have stuck in your head... but that's another good tie-in. I do like to walk along the Towpath Trail to the old Ohio-Erie Canal on my lunch breaks. :)

Gina said...

Wow, Kim! you've got tons of projects going on. I can't wait to see how everything turns out. Plus, I am still waiting on the grandma story and also curious how your front yard is coming along. Didnt you get rid of all the grass last summer?

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing tire rims? I can't wait to see the finished project. I love the idea of a river of plants. I'm so impressed that you can conceptualize a plan and carry it out. I'm sitting here staring at photos of all the herbs I have gathered waiting to be planted. I guess I have to get out there early tomorrow morning and start mixing up containers and see what sticks.

And free rocks? You're so lucky! Though I had to laugh at the on your own time line. I don't know what you do, but I can't imagine an office job that would allow for rock gathering on the clock.

growingagardenindavis said...

I was thinking some wheel part, too, although I'm mechanically challenged and don't know names. Wow..those cut stones are great...and how great that you had the idea to switch things around before you got the other stuff in place! I hope we get to see the final result later this summer. The shelves/locks are looking good..I remember you posting about them and it's all starting to come together!

MUHEDIK said...

Your blog and plantscollection is very interesting and so beautyful. Thank You!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I am so jealous of your free rock supply! There's nothing quite like natural stone. Your lock idea is so creative. As for the planters, they also look like wheel wells to me.

Anonymous said...

Hubcaps? They look like something to do with tires...

Your dog does indeed seem to be in supervising-mode. I know that's a familiar one around here for sure. I hope that you continue to have more good days to work outdoors - we've had a gorgeous weekend here (and cool mornings, which we won't feel again for a long, long time!). Hope you are enjoying a nice long weekend.

Unknown said...

You all are so close, I'm going to give everyone who guessed the "cool points!" They are brake rotors, which I told my Dad I was taking after the last time we redid my brakes at his house. I think I'm going to plant my 'Cape Blanco' sedum in one of them, and I picked up a cute little saxifrage at work today to plant in the other.

Gina, I didn't yet get rid of all of the grass, but I'm working on it! I have some extra retaining wall block that I'm going to put up next to the sidewalk, and then will backfill to take care of the rest of the grass. And YES, I DO need to post the grandma tulips story. Gosh, maybe later tonight?

Heather, I have lots of conceptualized plans... lol... but the carrying it out part is what usually gets me! (And that's how I plant containers, too. I think you're right on there. ;)

By the way, wouldn't it be WONDERFUL if we could all find jobs that allowed us to gather rocks on the clock?!!!! That would be sweet!

Leslie, I'm glad for that, too. Usually, I would have had things in place and then thought, "Oh, why didn't I..." *grin* I will definitely show the final results later this summer, although it will take a while to get everything to look "done."

MUHEDIK, thank you for stopping by AND for leaving such a nice comment!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter, I think that you were the closest. And you're right, there's nothing quite like natural stone... although I have to work to balance my love for that and my pocketbook. :)

Pam, it's a very recognizable observational look, isn't it? :) I have been working at the garden center for the past two days, but have noticed that everyone around here has been sitting out on their porches more. Maybe some good will come out of this economic downturn after all.

Frances, said...

Hi Kim, your stone leftovers are exquisite, you have arranged them in an intelligent jigsaw pattern. And your free rocks are looking rather heavy! Are you using your legs, not your back when lifting? ;-> The locks with the grates are ingenious as well. Can't wait to see the finished product!

Frances at Faire Garden

EAL said...

We just made a pathway with some cut stone--there seems to be tons of it around. The only thing is, eventually it seems to sink into the ground. I could swear there used to be another pathway where we made this new one.

The blue lock idea is fascinating.

Gail said...


I love your shelf locks...very clever reuse and it fits your garden philosophy so well....It does indeed tmeets all four of your goals (about me).


Shady Gardener said...

Great work, Kim! I was so glad you showed all the projects, rocks and otherwise, that you're working on! :-)

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

You're quite busy in thegarden I see. So am I and the under-gardener too. Soon I will show what we've been up to.

Love your garden projects and that you recycle stuff, I do too as it is easy on the budget and good for our planet.

Those cut stones you've used as flooring for the grape arbour look good already, just imagine them with plants growing all around them.

How nice that you can take those rocks home with you for free from work. I have to buy them and they are very expensive over here.

Well, keep up the good work Kim under the watchful eye of your Gardening Assistant!

joey said...

Quite an ambitious project, Kim. Good luck and happy planting!

Anonymous said...

ah, but the sedum is so cool on the belly! ... good thing sedum can take a little bit of that kind of treatment :)


Anonymous said...

First off, that is a really smart idea using the shelves, also that is a beautiful dog! Im actually working on my gaden too now I'm really loving tinkering around in my vege patch at the moment - not just because I find the process of dirt digging very therapeutic but also because all of the seedlings that I planted a couple of months ago are at picking point - and so we have green beens, bok choy, lettuce, rocket and cauliflower a plenty. I didn't have a vege garden at my home in Sydney. Although I always loved the idea of it, I spent more time cultivating my flowering plants, like geraniums and jasmine than anything else. And so my little farm patch was a bit of an experiment which so far, seems to be working well. My plan is to add more patches over the next little while - with the hope that we'll be able to eat from our garden most of the time...

Post a Comment

One of my favorite things about blogging is the interaction--posts are often simply the beginning of an interesting conversation! So thanks for taking the time to join the discussion, and please know that I enjoy reading each and every comment left here. I try to answer as many as I can.