Posted on: July 25, 2010

by Deborah in the UP

Sometimes landscaping just… happens.

The area in the front of the house was cleared of trees and excavated as the septic field, basically as a very large circle (see top picture). Nothing should be done over a septic field, so it was just left.

Since the house was built into the side of a hill, a LOT of dirt and rocks were removed to do that. All that removed dirt … and rocks… was piled off to the side … piles and piles of it… (see bottom picture) I spent a good portion of the second summer moving all that dirt back around the other side of the house, wheel barrow by wheel barrow, across 2×10 planks, to fill in around the basement. Good exercise.. LOL. Some of the dirt, in fact a good portion, went into filling the slope where the new wood shed was built, so the floor was reasonably level for stacking wood. As I shoveled into the wheel barrow, I set aside the really large rocks, figuring there would be some use for them down the line. Little did I know how many rocks I would accumulate!

The yard started with my birdbath in the center, just for a place to put it. But the center of that circle was also the perfect place to build a fire pit, and fires certainly wouldn‘t hurt the septic field. We liked our evening fires. Fire just seems to draw you in, creating a peace in the soul, and this pit saw much use. The birdbath was moved off to just outside the circle and into the woods. The largest rocks that I had set off to the side, were placed in a circle, creating the safety ring for the fire. Oh, it was added to, taken from, when better rocks were found, but for the most part it stayed as it began. The rest were gravitating to edge the yard, with a horseshoe around the birdbath. This also gave me somewhere to start, a focus, for adding more.

As I dug and moved dirt, mostly sand, I included moving rocks to my new projects on a daily basis, as part of the days work. When a rock garden closer to the porch began to develop, I started looking elsewhere for bigger, nicer looking rocks. There was an old quarry on the other side of our lowest 80 which was perfect for my hunt! The trouble came in moving them. This was MY project, and I received zero help in that department. I learned a great deal about leverage and fulcrums that summer, as I maneuvered small boulders into the back of the jeep for the quick journey to the developing yard.

As the base rocks were in place, I began planting: perennial herbs on one side and in front, leaving room behind and between them for the annual herbs of basil, dill and cilantro. I had a cinder block of chives that had moved with me wherever I went, for almost 20 years. Here was it’s final home. …or so I thought. I removed the chives and spread them along a 4×4’ area, then planted creeping thyme right at the edge of the rocks. The thyme grew and draped and covered the rocks so beautifully…. Behind the chives and up into the next layer of rocks, was the sage, and next to that was the oregano. The herbs took and thrived, creating a beautiful collage of flowers and scents, not to mention the availability to me of fresh cooking herbs!

But my sense of color wasn’t done…I needed flowers. Picking a point at the base of the garden and angling up to the edge of the porch where I had placed a rain barrel for watering these new plants, I dug in carefully selected flat stones to form a stairway. This was the barrier between flowers and herbs. Into the flower side I had planted some nasturtiums that eventually cascaded down the steps. The flower beds held a rainbow of colors in iris, plus coral bells, Shasta daisies and daylilies.

The fine tuning of the herbs and flowers took several years, as I added, moved, changed a few combinations. But eventually it became my pride and joy, with colors and scents to greet us all season long.

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