Thursday, June 17, 2010

the recycled garden - rocks, stones, and bricks

When we bought our house in 1992, the yard was a wasteland.  Literally.  It was awful.  If it hadn't been for the great neighborhood, and the big family room with 2 sets of french doors, a fireplace and a 1953 Brunswick regulation pool table that came with the place, we would have passed.  The yard needed a lot of work.  There were no plants except for several large oak trees and a camphor tree in the front.  There was no grass, just sandy dirt and a big burn pile in the back.

One of the first things we wanted to do was create beds.  A dear neighbor gave us a whole pallet of bricks.  She and her soon-to-be-ex had purchased them, but didn't use them before they had to divide property and sell their house. Pam just wanted them out of her yard.  We dug trenches and laid the bricks to edge beds, setting the tops level with the ground so that mowing would be easy.
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Thank you, Pam, for the bricks. Neighbors Bob and Donna had a stone waterfall feature built onto their pool and had leftover stone. We bought their leftovers and used them to enhance our koi pond. Aaron and Denise built a terrace and had a bunch of pieces of pink brick leftover.  These were cut bricks with all different sizes and shapes and they were going to be discarded, but Wayne had an idea.  He took all of the pieces and made some "mosaics" with them.  
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We're on the lookout for more free hardscape.  Every trip we take, I bring back rocks.  On a plane back from visiting our son, David, I had a bunch of rocks from the desert in Las Vegas in my bag.  Checking it in, the airline desk clerk asked me, "what do you have in there, rocks?"  "Yes, rocks."  Now, my answer might have delayed our leaving Las Vegas and had me go through the dreaded detailed security check, or not...I don't see rocks on the prohibited list.  

Eventually, we want to whittle down the lawn space and have less grass to mow.  The lawn actually looks pretty good right now.  The rainy season is just beginning.  We never use chemical weed control or fertilizer on our lawn.  There are cypress swamps and lakes and ponds to think about around us, and we don't want that crap running off into those delicate ecosystems.  

I'm constantly bringing gardening books home from our library.  Here is a list of books that inspire us, and in Andy Goldsworthy's case, awe us (not strictly gardening, but definitely artistic inspiration). 

The art and craft of stonescaping: setting and stacking stone by David Reed.
Garden stone: creative ideas and practical projects, and inspiration for purely decorative uses by Barbara Pleasant.
Infinite spaces: the art and wisdom of the Japanese garden based on the Sakuteiki by Tachibana no Toshitsuna.
Natural stonescapes: the art and craft of stone placement by Richard Dube and Frederick Campbell.
Stone, rock & gravel gardens by Kathryn Bradley-Hole (gotta love that name).
and my favorite nature artist:
Wood, and also Stone by Andy Goldsworthy (his work is amazing).

If you have a great idea for using recycled rocks and stones in your garden, I'd love to see them!

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