My wife tells me I am too old to be moving boulders without assistance. Often, her resistance to projects derives from her insistence that no more lawn be converted to garden, but I think she sort of likes this small addition, and today her concern is for my nearly sixty-six year old body rather than a hundred square feet of grass.
She suggests that we hire a few able bodied fellows to move the bulky, granite boulders into place. I insist that moving ten three hundred pound rocks is awkward, but nothing more than a bit of soreness will result. Twenty and thirty years ago, larger boulders were moved to retain slopes around ponds and patios (below), but no matter my delusions of eternal youth and fitness, I must proceed carefully. My wife doubts my judgment, with some good reason.
In fact, as new plantings go this is considerable effort for minimal effect. But, a witch hazel with pendulous branching (Hamamelis vernalis ‘Lombart’s Weeping’) has already been purchased (for early autumn delivery), and once an idea jumps into my feeble little brain, I must act before I slip into my more typical laziness. I envision the branches of the witch hazel pruned so they cascade and wind between boulders. It is likely the area will someday prove too small for the spreading shrub, but that will be easily remedied by cutting out another section of sod.
This planting is not so simple as placing boulders, then planting. The lawn must be dug out, then the slope excavated so that boulders are sunken partially into the grade. A trench between the boulders and lawn will be filled with river washed gravel since this inevitably channels rainwater on a slope, and the excavated soil is graded to secure the boulders and to level the area to match the existing grade. This, I suspect, sounds more complex than it is, and here is hoping that tomorrow I am not hobbling about, at least not so anyone will notice.