I love rocks. Mostly big ones, but little ones too.
I’m frequently compared to them, not necessarily as hardheaded (although certainly that is occasionally true), but as in “that boy is dumb as a box of …..”. Mostly by my wife when I’m talking about adding more rocks to the garden.
I have rock walls in my garden, five or six, all constructed from different types of stone. Several retain gradual slopes to level an area for a path or patio, a couple others enclose raised beds, and two are freestanding. I think maybe that’s seven, but there are probably more. They’re all different rock because I like different rocks.
There are also boulders in the garden, and gravels, big slabs for steps, and rock that has been cut into pieces for patios and pathways. There is local rock, some found on my property, boulders from West Virginia, and fieldstone from Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio, Missouri, basalt from Washington state, and even India and China.
If I had to choose between plants and rocks I might have to pick plants, but rocks with stuff growing on them are even better. A big old granite boulder with lichens and moss can’t be beat. A bit of hens and chicks tucked into cracks in boulders, or sedum sprawling between them looks great.
In my landscape work with Meadows Farms if there’s a decision between a concrete paver or wall block and a natural rock for the same purpose, that’s no choice at all for me. There are some nice concrete fake stone veneers available that I’ll sell you, but not without a bit of a tussle. It does make a difference. I can spot a good quality fake stone veneer from a block away, even if you can’t.
Rocks and water belong together. For inspiration to build a garden pond with a waterfall take a hike in the Blue Ridge mountains. Follow any creek for a hundred yards and you’ll have all the ideas you could want. Thunderstorms have tumbled boulders down the mountainside into piles that the creek spills over in patterns that even the most artistic pond builder wishes he could duplicate.
Next to a pond or path I like plants spilling over the edges. My wife does not share my enthusiasm as hostas reach out to meet from opposing sides to block a stone path. While she reaches for the pruners I’m planning for the next sedum or thyme I can jam into the cracks between stones.
I have more rock projects in mind, and without doubt I’ll see a mossy boulder that I just have to have. Every garden would be better for the addition of a truck load or two of rock. I think that a stone wall terracing the hill with big mossy slabs for steps leading down to a pond with a big old bullfrog perched on a boulder poking out of the dark water just might do it.