Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Next Thing

Here's a project that's been going on for months.  I decided to write up the entire saga in one big post rather than in bits and pieces for continuity's sake, otherwise, I go off on tangents this way and that on this blog and then there's all this explaining I have to do on what I'm talking about (sort of like right now...!) so with no further blathering on, here we go!

Since the middle of August, on and off, we have been working on placing stone again, which is hard work, but something I really enjoy.  Remember I said (way back when) that we had all those leftover stones out back from the Pachyberm project that we had to move so I can mow the lawn?

Look at these two goofballs in the picture above taken in September 2009.  They are actually SMILING about the prospect of having to clean up all this stone that was dumped on purpose, mind you, on their front lawn!   Oh, that was a glorious day, we were as happy as two people in a rock pile can be. 

When we had the geothermal furnace installed last September, we had six dump truck loads of big stone hauled in again.  I had the rock dropped off in six different locations in the yard which was silly, but made sense at the time.  From September 2009 to August 2010 we used up most of the big stuff for the Pachyberm and the east side of the Quarry garden, but we still had three piles with modest-sized rocks making mowing the lawn impossible.  Below, Joel is taking some rocks out this spring from one of the three piles that are remaining.
 What to do with this leftover rock?

Well, here was my goofy new idea; when we removed all the tufa from the west side of the house in July, I thought it would be a good idea to take the leftover rock and make a stone 'Thing' (for lack of a better description) in the area vacated by the tufa.  The limestone would  show up from the road much better than the tufa did from that distance and match the Pachyberm, too. 

Normally, Carl is on-board with most of my ideas; we usually think the same way when it comes to landscaping projects, but he wasn't in favor of this one.  I know I pledged to stop creating more work around here especially in terms of weeding and maintenance as we grow older.  But since we have the rocks and we need to move them anyway, I thought this would be a win-win situation.  The rocks wouldn't need weeding or maintenance (gosh, I love rocks) if we could install this new wall/berm/outcropping (ok, Thing) the way I envisioned it.

So, Carl sighed and said, "Oh, all right, if you insist," and moved the biggest leftover rock up from the back yard.  There it is, in the picture below, behind Reluctant Carl:
But I couldn't bring myself to use this big rock in the Thing Garden because it is so large and has so much character, I think it needs to be on it's own Somewhere Else, wherever that is. Carl sighed again.  Before we dive into any big landscaping chore, we usually stare at things from a bunch of different angles to see what we're up against.  So we plopped down on the big rock and weighed the pros and cons of this next folly.   

Ok, here's what it looked like when the tufa was still there:
 We could drive a lawnmower between the trees to get to the west lawn for mowing when the trees were younger, but since they have put on so much new growth, it was getting tighter every year.  I had removed several limbs on the backside of one of the trees so I could get through more easily and it was in this area I thought the new Stone Thing could be placed.  There's a slight downhill grade there, too, which might be interesting to work with.

So, after we took the tufa wall to its new home on the other side of the yard, we decided to limb up the tree the rest of the way and see if we could put rock in there....but after we did neither of us liked the look at all. 

 We decided the tree had to go.  I know, I know, it took us over 20 years to grow these trees from little 6" seedlings to this size, but they are just in there too thick and ruining each other.  Plus, though Picea pungens (Colorado Blue Spruce) is a gorgeous young tree, they tend to lose their beauty after they age, becoming more open and ratty-looking, especially if they are grown in shade.
We didn't want a stump to deal with, so instead of sawing the tree down, we hooked up the 574 and.........
 I pulled it down
hauled it away to Joel who took care of cutting it up for firewood and burning the brush.
We have a new rule around here about what to do with brush and tree trimmings and the rule is:
Deal with the brush right away.
What we used to do was pile it up in the Back Eight, but then we had a gargantuan pile of brush to burn and when we'd get around to burning it, like last Memorial Day, I had to let our township know or they would send a firetruck brigade out to save us.  So far, the rule has been working very well.

Anyway, back to the Thing; after we pulled the first tree down, we noticed how nice the cedars looked behind it.  There was still one more blue spruce to the right of the one we just pulled out and we decided to remove that one, too. 

First tree removed, now looking at the second one just barely seen on the right.  Notice the tunnel-like area where the hose is lying?  That tunnel leads to the bridge and is my lawn mower access between the back yard and the west side of the house.
Here's a view coming from over the bridge, now I can get my lawnmower through. But then we took a look at the next blue spruce tree and decided we may as well take it down too so the lovely cedars would be exposed.  Once again, a consequence of planting trees too closely decades ago.
 Carl, limbing up the next spruce.
Limbed up and waiting for...........

Joel and the chainsaw.


 We decided to saw this tree down because I wanted to put a stone formation right over the top, so we didn't need to remove the stump.  (Too bad we didn't do this closer to Christmas, we could have had two really big Christmas trees!)

There goes the tree behind me and the tractor again with Carl in pursuit with the lawnmower trailer and branches.  

Ok, back to the same area, this time minus the two spruce trees.  Now what do we do?  We decided to put a few rocks in:

These pictures were taken in August; Carl's really not thrilled with the whole project, so it's not going very well, and the mosquitoes are absolutely fierce.  Believe it or not, but they were STILL pestering us, even  in mid-October.  All the rain we had made for Mosquito Paradise. Poor man, he had mosquitoes whining in one ear and me whining in the other ear.  Too bad repellent doesn't work on pesky wives who want Thing gardens.

I asked  Joel to come in with the chainsaw and do some pruning on the cedar's dead limbs:

We were making some progress, but nothing to jump for joy about.  And then it rained again, hard--over four inches in an hour, August 20th:
The entire area flooded, so we had to wait for it to dry out.

August 24th, things are dry enough to start working on it again:

But it's not going well, we are having problems envisioning what we both want.  Carl is very good at stone placement, but leans toward making walls when what I want is more natural-looking, so we have to put stones in place and then take them out and start all over again.  It's very time-consuming.  Plus, since his heart is just not in this Thing bed,  I can't blame him for not being happy.  I don't want more area to weed and was hoping to make this garden more like our 'Escarpment' bed out by the Quarry--just a sheer stone wall with only a few planting pockets.  The stone we have left is not conducive to building a mock stone 'formation' though, as it is chunky, not flat.  But I nag long enough, and Carl agrees to keep going with what we are doing.  Hey, we can always move 'em if they really look too horrid.  (At least that's what I tell Carl....)

The work plods on--August 28th:

We decide we need some fill.  Joel and I haul dirt from our pile leftover from the Quarry construction in 2002, one load at a time.  I lost track of how many loads we brought up from the Back Eight.
When Joel is home, he will pitch in, and we appreciate his help more than he knows.  Here Joel is bringing some fill in for Carl.
Bringing in more rocks.

I tell Carl it's looking pretty good, but he's not convinced.
Getting later, more rocks...
Not much fun with a tree hanging overhead, too.
Some rocks can be a real pain to place and slip out of the chains repeatedly.  We are always cautious when doing this work and after moving over 700 tons of big rock by ourselves since 2002, none of us have sustained any major injuries.  Safety first!
What would we do without the old Manley Wrecker?  What a machine.
Oh, and believe it or not, I do help with this a little bit, I'm not always just taking pictures.  I don't work as hard as Carl does, though. 
Teddy Dog gives it a 'four paws up'.
Screech agrees with Carl, too much work.  
We hit a snag with this job for a few weeks, one thing and another went on with other work needing to be done and then I started having the health issues, so it got put on the back burner to simmer.  Then, October 12, we were back at it again:

We decided to make two stone walls, but had to make it wide enough to fit the lawn mower through easily:

Even now, in October, the can of bug repellent is in plain view.  We're still swatting mosquitoes any time the temperatures are over 60 degrees.

Do you see the white chair in the background?  Carl found the chair in a dumpster and brought it home, it is in need of repairs and it's been in this part of the garden for years.  We always called it the 'Time Out Chair' which was where we are forced to sit and contemplate the error of our ways whenever we wanted to add on to our garden.  Apparently, I didn't spend enough time in the Time Out Chair, did I? or this stupid garden addition would never have happened!
View coming over the bridge
View from Pachyberm
Bringing up more rocks.
Getting late in the day again...this was October 12.  Then I threw a wrench in the progress by going to the hospital, putting an end to the work for another week.

 October 17, back to work.

We had a lot of rubble rock leftover, so it was my idea to put the rubble behind the wall next to the spruce tree to build up the area and make it taller.  I know in time the tree will 'eat' this space anyway, but for now, it will cut down on the weeding I'd have to do between the tree and the wall.  My next idea was one Carl really wasn't fond of, I decided we should try to cap the rubble part of the wall with flat limestone pieces we have collected over the years.  This project has been hard on our working relationship, lol, we have really had heated discussions over the path the whole Thing garden has taken.

Below, the view from the road, what we'd been hoping for was to give the impression that the Pachyberm and the new stone walls were connected in a loose way.  From the road it does sorta kinda look that way, but up close, no......we fell short of the mark.  Still, I'm not completely unhappy with the whole thing........yet........

Ann was here last Sunday, October 17, and helped load up the pallets you see here in the foreground.  Joel is bringing up the rest of the bigger rocks for us to choose from as we try to bring the Thing Bed to a limping conclusion.

So, now, here it is--we finished the Thing on October 22, 2010.  Thank goodness.  Did we succeed in making it look natural?  No.  But it works as far as I'm concerned.  (It better work, after my insisting I wanted it, can you imagine Carl's frustration if I would say, 'Oh, my dear, you were right, this Thing is stupid, let's take it down."
And then, my weak attempt at plantscaping: I hacked a miscanthus apart and plopped two of them on the little 'Things'. 

View from the Pachyberm (in foreground)

A little farther back

 The bridge on the other side

The new path between the twin Things to the lawn

One last look back at the trail and the Thing.
 Next spring, when the daffodils (that I haven't planted yet) come up and we add a few dwarf conifers to the area and rake the path and plant some grass and hostas and ferns, then, hopefully, the Thing won't look so barren, forced and contrived. 

Did I tell you I once read a garden critic ranting on about berms, how anyone who has a berm in their yard should be declared a 'berm victim' and depending on how many were found on one property, you could be either a first, second or third degree berm victim?  Well, we had better hustle to our local 'berm' center, because we are downright toasted now.  Ah, to each his own.  Yes, I know it looks like a meteorite slammed into our yard in places and deposited rock haphazardly, but we aren't normal, and we readily admit it.

But, now I can get to the lawn with the lawn mower.  

Now we can move on to another project that also has to do with stone and has been sitting on yet another back burner for literally years now, my other SILLY idea with what to do with leftover stones, the Stone Cottage.   

But for right now, at this minute, I must say this:
Carl, thank you very much for putting up with me and my ideas.  What would I do without you?  
(A lot less stone work, that's for sure.)
I love you. 

P.S.  I really should come up with a better name for this than Thing.  Any suggestions??


becomingkate said...

Excellent post, thanks so much for showing us the whole project!
I'm placing rocks in my backyard right now; everything looks barren. It'll look great next year!

Zoey said...

I bet that the Thing will be absolutely beautiful next year when you get it all planted!

What a lot of work. I enjoyed seeing it from start to finish.

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Karen I can't believe the amount of work you guys put in. I know it will look great but I am glad I do not have to move those rocks.


Anonymous said...

I loved reading every word and viewing every photo from this post. I did think you were not moving rock and taking pictures of the tired crew, glad you cleared that up. :grin:

What a progress report on the lovely work. Loved the funny story and as for the ranters, I have read the rants, it is funny how some pass judgement. I remember the meteor comments too.

Moving stone like you guys did is a BIG project and once planted is a great addition to all most any landscape.

FlowerLady said...

Dear Karen ~ The 'thing' will look great come spring, and each year will only look better. Just think back to the beginning of your quarry gardens and how bare they looked back then. Now look. People want their wedding pictures taken in your gardens.

Bless Carl's heart for going along with this latest idea. My DH does the same thing and I love him dearly for all that he does to bring things to pass.

Have a great week ~ FlowerLady

FlowerLady said...

P.S. Quarry Garden Folly instead of the 'thing'. :-)

Granny Lyn's Garden said...

Karen , I love it. What I wouldn't give for stone like that. I think your idea turned out great. Such labor intense work you do,no wonder you're tired. And what a wonderful husband you have, he certainly is a keeper.
God Bless,Lynda

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Wow, look at all the work you guys have done! I kind of like "thing" myself. It's shaping up, and will look pretty cool when you get those other plants in.

I need to show this post to my husband so he'll be happier about helping me put rabbit fencing next to the chain link fence around the veggie garden, hopefully, this week.

Greenearth said...

What an amazing project and effort. Would love your big rocks and tractor at my place.

Shirley said...

Karen, what a dear your husband is for taking on your Thing project. It looks great now. Imagine what it will be like in 5 years! I love your Quarry Garden and know this will be just the same!

Karen said...

becomingkate, look forward to seeing the stone in your landscaping too!

Zoey, let's hope the Thing looks better next year, thanks!

Eileen, thank you...the rocks were/are so big and they take up a lot of room, thank goodness...less weeding.

Donna, you'd think I would have had at least one photo of me doing something, though, wouldn't you? Thank you for the kind words and I'm glad I didn't bore you too much!

FlowerLady, I like Quarry Garden Folly, that's a good name for the entire garden, actually, as it never seems to end. Thank you, and I know your DH is very much the same as mine, we are blessed.

Lynda, thank you, and thank goodness this addition is over. Yes, Carl is a keeper, he's put up with so much from me.

Sue, yes, I think 'thing' just about sums this area up, but hopefully, with some plants next spring, it won't be such a fright to look at. I hope your husband helps you with the fencing---that's a big job, too!

Greenearth, thank you! There's nothing we enjoy more than rocks and tractors...they keep us moving.

Karen said...

Hi Shirley, thank you for the kind words and I will be sure to thank Carl again, too!

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

Hi Karen. OMG! What a heavy load of work but my it looks so wonderful. I just love the path between the beds going back through the pines.It looks like you are going into a secret garden. Your planting really make it look so pretty and I cannot wait to watch it grow in with you. A stone cottage just has to be built to cap it all off.

xoxoxo said...

I think "The Thing" is a great name! Thing 1 and thing 2? Im sure it will be amazing and keep you busy and out of trouble for a while :) And to think my SO complains about a little patio covered with 100LB stones! Sheesh--Im sending him over here and telling him I WANT A THING!!!

Jennifer@threedogsinagarden said...

Gosh you have done a ton of work. All that heavy lifting! The end result was definitely worth the effort.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

I just showed this post to Larry, and read the parts where you talk about how Carl feels about things. He said to tell you Carl can come dig the dirt for the rabbit fence, and he'll come drive that tractor.

Beth said...

Karen, This was a fun post! I enjoyed seeing the process. It definitely has possibilities and your creative mind knew that all along. You and Carl have done a fabulous job with your lawn and gardens. It's one amazing place, Karen! Have a great week!
Blessings, Beth

Karen said...

Hocking Hills Gardener, thank you--I'll have to work on the Secret Garden aspect, for it would be awesome! The stone cottage is in progress, but slowly.

xoxoxo, thank you and Thing 1 & Thing 2 is an excellent name! They do look Seuss-like, and yes, this will hopefully keep me out of trouble for awhile!

Jennifer, yes, there was a lot of lifting and prying with crowbars, lol.

Sue, Carl would probably take you up on the offer to dig for awhile, he gets real tired of moving rocks and he could learn how to deter varmints from the vegetable garden, too!

Beth, you are so kind! Thank you.

Meredehuit ♥ said...

I'm coveting your big rocks, Karen. And I'm convinced that you are one very strong lady to pull down a big old spruce in a single bound!

Anonymous said...

Thanks :)
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