Mini RockeryA Tiny Rockery by the Chimney


When we bought our house, the foot of the back steps, between the staircase & the chimney, sported a horrid blackberry sticker patch. I cleared it out the first year, but it grew right back the next. So the second year I worked up the stamina to really dig down deep & get those briar roots which were big enough to use for firewood. What remained was poor dry soil under the eaves that got too little rain. More time passed & I never planted anything there because it was too dry. Every time I looked in that stark corner, I was picturing it raised up against the stone chimney as a little rockery of sedums instead of a cruddy dead zone.

Having to my own amazement developed a habit of actually seeing some of these visions come to fruition, one day I found myself wheelbarrowing in several loads of dirt, mixing a great deal of compost into it, arranging some pleasing-looking rocks scrounged from a bulldozed building-site several miles away, & layering the loam higher & higher until I had a small hill where formerly was dead dry ground.

All the while I was worrying, "This is going to suck, it's going to look like hell." Yet after mucking with it left & right for several consecutive days, it slowly took on a shape I found pleasing, & no longer looked like a messy pile of dirt & rocks. I got some very inexpensive pots of sedums & hen & chicks, plus two odd dwarf evergreens that aren't supposed to get any taller than a foot, & later on the dwarf pomegranite that is planted on the peak of the "mountain" nearest the house hoping the pomegranite can stay warm there & won't suffer in winter. I do have to remember to water the area, because the eaves are quite large & even a hard rain doesn't reach far into the corner. That silly boot is something we got at a fundraising rummage sale with more stonecrop growing in it. I enjoyed watching the boot get all weather-wrecked, but I eventualy removed the stonecrop from it, & half buried it elsewhere, on its side.

This portrait captures about two-thirds of the rockery. It reaches a bit farther "stage right" outside the frame, going behind a tall vine maple; you can see something growing there on the Eenciest Tree page.

I planted the miniature rockery thinly, expecting the sedums to spread. It was planted late in Spring of 2001, & by early Autumn it looked like this, with only the stonecrop sedum spreading a lot in such a short time. It's spring as I revise this page, & already the minrockery is on its way to becoming green all over, & I'll soon be needing to give away sedum starts to whoever doesn't already have too much of it themselves.

So what a year earlier was just a dried out corner between the chimney & the stairs became this miniature mountainside.


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