Monday, May 14, 2012

A Thousand Pounds of Love

I don't know what else to call it. In Japanese it's called a karesansui or dry landscape garden but when someone, namely your eldest son, totes at least a thousand pounds of rocks and gravel to build you one, you can hardly call it anything other than love.

This started, you may recall, two or three weeks ago with a trip to the mountains to select rocks. I picked half a dozen candidates, we ended up using three, as more would have been too much crowding for the space. We'd had some difficulty locating the right gravel. He ended up at a local gravel and stone purveyor and brought 300 pounds of small gyra stone. We thought 300 pounds would be plenty. We were wrong.

We got rocks set, gyra poured over the larger gravel base and discovered we needed twice as much gyra stone as we'd bought. He made a mad dash for the stone purveyor a good distance away. He arrived four minutes after they closed. So he hunted around in the various home stores until he found pea gravel of a reasonable colour match, though larger, and bought a couple hundred pounds of pea gravel in bags.

As we poured it on it looked as if it was going to be a disaster, but bit by bit we worked the large 1" bore gravel to the outside edges and as a kind of "wake" behind the stones closest to the wall and outside curbing, and blended in the rest - and it turned out beautifully. Admittedly it is not going to be a zen garden that takes to raking patterns, we could not find stone fine enough to allow that, but that's probably for the best as it looks good without the burden of daily maintenance.

We installed lawn edging around the largest standing stone, and inside the perimeter put a bag of garden soil. I planted moss and then we covered the raw soil with a layer of crushed clay, to hold the moisture for the moss, hide the black earth and make the colours more consistent. Now I hope that island of soil is not right under where the water pours off the roof during heavy rains, or the downpour will make a mess of my pretty moss garden.

We both also discovered how difficult it is to photograph a garden like this effectively. The "good" spots are filled with shrubs, and neither of us felt like lying on the sidewalk to get the proper perspective, since I'd been hosing down the sidewalk and it was not only wet but muddy. Trust me, it's much nicer than one would expect from my poor pictures. And the moss has doubled in area covered overnight!

As people came and went we had many positive comments, people seemed really happy to see something done with the weedy gravel patch that had been uncovered when I pruned back the shrubs. We've had three or four warm days and there are tulips, daffodils and narcissus in little bunches all up and down the flower beds, and more green spears emerging every day.

We also planted what's called elephant ears locally but is really a member of the saxifrage family bergenia and a foamflower. I had foamflower in my garden in Summerland and loved it. Both bergenia and foamflower do well in the shade and should do well where they are planted. They will get a couple of hours of morning sun and be in the shade the rest of the day. The bergenia gets quite large and I'm now wondering, looking down from the balcony, if I didn't plant it a bit close to the sidewalk, but even if it grows over the sidewalk at that point it won't be in the way.

All in all a lovely day with my big boy - who lived up to his childhood nickname of "Sunshine" - and brought me flowers and 1000 pounds (rather than carats) of rock for Mother's Day.


Leslie said...

i love the look and you have a wonderful son. It is always nice to have a strong handsome guy available for such chores!

How is your husband doing by the way?


Unknown said...

wow! i love these types of gardens! Ryoan-ji is my favourite one in Kyoto: