Meet Rocky

When you start a new garden with a blank slate, bare ground, all from scratch, all of the experience from a lifetime of lessons learned can be called upon.

When you start a new garden that you will only be able to toil in the soil one or two days a month, special considerations must be made in the maintenance department when choosing the plantings and layout. This set of circumstances was presented to me in December of 2010 when a second home found its way into the Fairegarden empire. Unbridled excitement at having new ground in which to plant was quickly reigned in as the saved newspapers were laid and many many many bags of mulch were applied to create the outline of the front garden. A weekend of work had yielded but a small patch of cultivation ready bed. This was going to take much longer than first anticipated. But there is only one thing to do when confronted with such a truth. Chip, chip away at it.

Slowly the shape of the finished bed was determined, allowing grassy areas for pathways and access to the back, and overflow parking for the many cars of the entire clan, who would meet in the new place on occasion. The decision to go all native was made. The native plantings would be better prepared to handle the near total neglect. They would be chosen for four season attractiveness and interaction with each other, and the pollinators would be pleased. All good. Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Red’, Panicum ssp., Rudbeckia fulgida and Echinacea ssp. shown above. (A more complete listing will be made in a future post of the plants chosen for the new gardens, but of course that is subject to changes made.)

The work continued with each visit, but there was a thorn in this happy tale. A very large rose of sharon shrub was growing smack dab in the middle of the bed. Oh, we’ll just cut that down and dig it out, thought the garden designer, me. Much cutting with hand saw, then electric saw, then chopping with an axe, then burning, then the heavy black plastic covering under scorching sunshine, then more axe work did not faze the stump. Okay, more thinking cap time was applied.

The idea was hatched to cut the offending stump below ground level, cover with cardboard then mulch and place a large boulder on top of it.

To the rock yard we went, a most fascinating place for those who are madly in love with stone and rocks of all sizes, shapes and hues. Looking carefully at each pile, with the final resting space envisioned, a selection was made.

Quarried from nearby Madison County, North Carolina, with moss still attached, Rocky spoke to me, “Choose me, choose me!”. Delivery arrangements were set up and the large flat bed truck was soon backed into the driveway, ready to lift up and dump Rocky, named by The Financier*, into place over atop the obstinate rose of sharon stump.

Back and forth the driver went, with the heavy tires running to and fro over the newly planted blue eyed grass just brought over from Fairegarden Tennessee. Not to worry, that is why grasses are a good idea near driveways, they will bounce back after being driven upon. I hope.

Up, up the hydraulics lifted the truck bed, but Rocky stubbornly resisted sliding effortlessly into place. As the peak height was reached, he finally began to move and landed with a thud onto the earth. Weighing in at fourteen hundred pounds, there will be no wiggling him into the exact x marks the spot, about a foot to the left. He is in his final resting place and the garden bed will be extended to accommodate him with cardboard and mulch around his perimeter that extends into the grass.

There are some ideas swirling about plantings to enhance his rugged handsomeness, natives, of course. But for now, we welcome Rocky into the fold and will try to make him feel comfortable and loved.


*On the ride home from the rock yard, after the selection had been paid for and delivery was imminent, I said, “We need to name the rock.” The Financier immediately blurted out, “Rocky.” When my laughter subsided and it was mentioned that that was not the sort of name I had in mind, it seemed Rocky was indeed the perfect name. So it is.


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27 Responses to Meet Rocky

  1. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    When I read the title of this post I thought I was going to meet your pet squirrel. Ha… This is so much better. I am happy to meet Rocky. He is a most handsome addition to your new garden.

    HA Lisa, I wondered if anyone would look for that! Congratulations! This Rocky is a handsome brute, to be sure. There are also about a million of the other type of Rockys at this house, too, thanks to the colony of black walnut trees in the neighborhood.

  2. Carol says:

    Rocky looks like a great addition to your garden.

    Hi Carol, thanks. In this setting, Rocky looks right at home.

  3. Marguerite says:

    Oh Frances! as you conquer new gardening worlds…you give new meaning to the concept “Pet Rock”. Welcome Rocky, to FaireGarden! YOu have arrived in Eden!

    Hi Marguerite, thanks, I like that, conquering new gardening worlds. Rocky does already seem right at home in his new setting. He brings a smile every time I look out at the garden there.

  4. Layanee says:

    He is a nice looking brute. Moss, lichens and nooks. I will look forward to seeing the garden envelop him.

    Hi Layanee, thanks. He is a brute, but a friendly one. It will be fun to plant around him. He was chosen so he could also function as a place to sit and contemplate life, the universe and everything.

  5. michaele says:

    Sigh…a rock yard…be still my heart! So many handsome hunks to choose from…kind of like a Chippendales show for gardeners! Looks like you picked out a suitable candidate that should be very effective in its new starring role as Rose of Sharon killer. What a lemonade out of lemons solution for an annoying problem…a great rock and making a planting bed larger.

    HA Michaele, we are of the same mind! I did swoon upon entering the rock yard, so many, all wonderful. It was best to not overthink the selection or I would still be there trying to decide. Rocky landed in a spot just a little off the mark, but close enough to get the job done. A pathway must be left for access to the back and Rocky is right on the edge of that. It will be okay.

  6. Sharon Rose Mc says:

    So do I read correctly that Rocky landed a tad off from his intended final resting place and that yet more measures will be needed for the Rose of Sharon stump?

    Uh oh! I hope you are not offended by the disparaging remarks made about this particular, not all!, rose of sharon shrubs, Ms. Sharon Rose! Once the cardboard and mulch were laid over the stump, its exact location is a little iffy. We do have plenty more pizza boxes, er horticultural cardboard, if needed.

  7. Julie says:

    Rocky–what a handsome fella for your lovely native garden!

    Hi Julie, thanks. Rocky does already seem quite at home there.

  8. Barbara H. says:

    Laughed out loud at Michaele’s comparison to a Chippendales show – that was a good one. I also had just read an online article about the move of a 340 ton rock 100 plus miles for an art installation, so your rocky adventure gave a little more perspective on the really big move. Rocky is indeed a handsome fellow and I’m sure he will enjoy being the star of the show.

    Thanks, Barbara, and yes, that was an apt metaphor! At less than a ton, Rocky is small potatoes compared to that, but we do love him.

  9. My Kids Mom says:

    While we drove all around the western US last summer, I pointed at rocks that would look good in my yard. I even offered to tie one of the kids to the roof so I could fit one in the car to bring it home. I have a feeling that the purchasing of a rock would not pass the budget test here.

    Rocks are amazing, aren’t they, Jill. The rocks at this yard were surprisingly inexpensive, which is why we were able to get as large a rock as Rocky. The delivery was also reasonable, we thought. The total cost was way below budget. I will go back to the rock yard for smaller Rockettes that will fit into the back of the gas-guzzler, they are cheap!

  10. What a great addition to your garden! I love to visit rock yards. They are almost as addicting as nurseries!

    Hi Karin, thanks. I could spend some quality time at the rock yard, and will, when not with the Financier breathing down my neck, along. The guys there will load the rocks into my car, I can back into place and push the rock out into place, maybe slide it down a board. Maybe.

  11. So now you got a fancy store bought rock from Madison County. I’m kind of laughing. There’s a reason rocks are cheap in these parts. You’re really paying more for the lifting and moving than the rock. Where there is a will there is a way and Rocky could be placed on X marks the spot if you really want.

    HA Christopher, I knew you would get a laugh out of the fancy store bought rock! Rocky is a big boy, more dense and therefore more heavy that some other types they had at the rock yard, directly across from 12 Bones, BTW. I agree, it is the heavy machinery that we were paying for. We were both surprised at the cost, much less that we had anticipated. I could have gotten a bigger rock! I am happy enough with the place Rocky landed. For now. I might be asking for more info about that will there is a way comment.

  12. Gail says:

    Dear Frances, I love Rocky! He’s a good looking, distinguished boulder and that lichen shows his age. Good choice and a perfect addition to your native garden. Btw, the garden looks terrific. xoxogail

    Hi Gail, thanks. Rocky does blend in well with the house and the garden. I have some planting plans for him that should be flattering, too.

  13. Catherine says:

    I love Rocky and wish I had his brother in my backyard by my pond. I dream about a nice big rock like that, but how to get it where I want without a crane is impossible. He picked the perfect spot to land!

    Hi Catherine, thanks. Having a big boulder in the garden has always been a dream of mine. I knew it had to be close to the street so a truck could just dump it there. Other machinery is just too expensive, including a crane! But man, how cool would that be?

  14. commonweeder says:

    Rocky is handsome indeed. I love the idea of a rock yard – where all rocks could congregate. Instead I have fields where rocks turn up all too often. Fortunately we have tamed some and brought them into the Lawn Beds. Maybe I should think about putting another big one in the Circle Bed which was created to keep the mower from breaking on barely submerged rocks. You have given me a really good idea today. Many thanks!

    Hi Pat, thanks. Lucky you finding and corralling your rocks! Since this is a 1400 lb rock, he ain’t movin’ nowhere!

  15. So, did he actually land on top of the stump like he was supposed to?

    Hi Kathy, yes, sort of. Within a foot, I think, since once the stump was covered up the exact location is a guesstimate anyway. We are calling it good, enough!

  16. Cindy, MCOK says:

    Rocky is a handsome if taciturn guy … stone-faced, stone cold, stony silence … hmmm, am I missing any? 😉

    Hi Cindy, thanks. I believe you have covered it all! Except maybe for old as the hills…

  17. Frances I love Rocky. When I bought the lot we built our house I noticed a very large rock that had been part of the landscape. I asked it it was on the lot….when they answered yes, I bought the lot and the rock was incorporated into the landscape after we rescued it from one of the workers who tried to take it off my hands (to sell it of course)….

    Hi Donna, thanks. How wonderful, and smart of you to make sure that rock came with your new property. Glad you rescued it, too.

  18. Lola says:

    Love that Rocky. Sure wish his siblings were close. Your garden is coming along beautifully.

    Hi Lola, thanks. There is something powerful and full of magic about these rocks, isn’t there?

  19. Rocky is most handsome! I’m actually plotting to go rock-shopping myself, but that’s to give our soon-to-be goats something fun to climb on. Maybe I’ll have to pick one out for the garden too though. I like the idea of smooshing that unwelcome stump with this rock, it should prove to be very effective. I do hope the blue-eyed grass is none the worse for the wear though!

    Hi CV, thanks. How fun for your lucky goats, to have personally selected rocks to help make them feel at home. I once saw goats whose owner made them a tree house with a spiral staircase to climb up there, too cute! Between the several layers of cardboard and the rock, the stump should happily rot away, and Rocky should settle downward, too. A twofer! The grasses will be fine, I am sure. The heavy truck simply helped plant them a little deeper.

  20. What a fun post! I have missed out on some posts, so I need to click on your links to find out the story of this new property. Rocky looks like he will make a nice addition to the garden. I hope your blue eyed grass is doing OK. I want to find some of that. One of the places I get plants said they hope to get some this year.

    Hi Sue, thanks. It is no wonder you couldn’t find the post explaining the new property, I could barely find it myself and knew the date we bought it! Here it is: Starting With Wildflowers. The blue eyed grass will be fine, it is nearly indestructible and the truck just helped its roots set *settled* a bit better. If you can’t find it locally, Sunlight Gardens is a great online nursery with lots of natives and good prices. I can vouch for them.

  21. sunny says:

    Rocky looks great, always good to see stone being incorporated into a garden. And I’m sure that wont be the last rock you end up bring in there.

    Hi Sunny, thanks so much. As someone who knows all about rocks, I believe you have nailed it! I am already thinking about adding more little brothers and sisters of Rocky. Ones that can be lifted by a strong human, not me, of course.

  22. Rose says:

    Rocky certainly is a handsome fellow! He’ll be the perfect sentinel for this new garden that is coming along so nicely . I inherited a couple of large boulders here–the littlest grandkids find them the perfect spot to climb, so I have to be careful what I plant around them:)
    I’m still chuckling over your “horticultural cardboard”:)

    Hi Rose, thanks. Lucky you, rocks are a great inheritance, and they never go out of style, either. Grasses are good plantin companions, or grass-likes, they can take smooshing. Glad you liked my little funny.

  23. I love Rocky! Having a large rock in the landscape is wonderful….we thought about one for our front area where I was having plant issues. My concern was how to get it in the spot. My decision was to dig out the bad soil and replace it….easier than trying to move a large rock that might roll to the wrong spot. (and with our slope that was a big possibility.)

    Hi Janet, thanks. Getting a large boulder in place, even right by the street, can be tricky, and slope does matter. Choosing a rock that is not round can help.

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  26. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I am certainly pleased to meet Rocky. He is a handsome dude. I hope he squashes the smitherines out of the rose stub.

    Thanks Lisa. So far Rocky is doing the job with panache!

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