Saturday, November 26, 2011

Gardenin' with Gertie ~ Using Stone in the Landscape

Goo' Day!  Gertie here again.  I asked my good friend, and stone expert, Lloyd Glasscock, with Looking Glass Design, to share some insights about using stone in the landscape (one of my favorite techniques).  Here's what he had to say. 

‘Using stone in the landscape’…sounds daunting doesn’t it? To some people it conjures up images of castle-like retaining walls or plazas of flagstone, something not always feasible for the urban garden. Others simply can’t picture how to use stone, let alone why.

In the ‘body’ of a landscape I like to think of stone as the ‘bones’. Whether you’re creating pathways, patios, walls or
fountains, stone provides structure and defines space in ways plant material can’t. It can provide a focal point or serve as a guide through the garden. Once installed it generally requires little or no maintenance and enhances the landscape.

When selecting stone for the garden, first choose the function and then the form. Many types of stone can be used for a variety of purposes, for instance; a natural stone walkway can be created using flagstone or thicker ledge stone (wall stones).

Choosing stone color can be more challenging. Flagstone and ‘accent stones’ (especially those used in water features) may change color over time as garden debris (leaves) or moss and algae settle in. Sweeping the stone areas usually helps, but the stone will likely still darken a bit. For walls (ledge stone) this is less an issue.

Often when presenting a design to a client there will be symbols for stones in the garden beds. We’re blessed with an abundance of available plant varieties in the Pacific Northwest; I think of these stones as ‘breaking up the green’. Using a small grouping of ledge stone or a stone basin in the beds can accent plant materials by providing a backdrop to let them stand out.

There are many simple, practical and/or fun ways to use stone in the landscape. Visiting a local supplier of stone products before or during the design process of the garden or project can familiarize you with the many different products available and their usage. Good local resources are Marenakos Rock Center (Issaquah), Clearview Stone (Snohomish) and Pacific Stone Co. (Everett).

Lloyd Glasscock, CPH
Looking Glass Design

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gardenin' with Gertie - Fall Cleaning

Goo’day all, Gertie Geoduck here! I’ve got another gardenin’ thought to share with you  - fall cleaning is for gardens, while spring cleaning is for our homes.

We’ve had our first serious frost here in Snooterville Junction. That signals deciduous trees and shrubs to ‘head south for the winter’, well, to their roots any way. As these plants shift sugars and energy down into their root systems to overwinter, their leaves turn color and fall off. I look forward to seeing Mother Nature’s brilliance every year.

This also sends a signal to us gardenin’ geeks – time for ‘fall cleaning’. If there are any plants that you have recurring pest (disease or insect) issues with, you can reduce that issue by cleaning up any/all leaf and twig debris from under and around that plant. Pick it up now, and dispose of it.

Here in S-J we have garden waste collection, and, most of our garden ‘goodies’ go to a composting company where their process ‘cooks’ the compost to the point that most pathogens and weed seeds are deactivated. Although I have my own compost bin, I try to put only ‘clean’ clippings and material in it, as I can’t guarantee that there is enough consistent heat within the pile to really ‘cook’ things. Either way, we can then use that nutritious compost to fortify our planting beds next spring – what a Snooter-abulous way to recycle and reuse!

Miss Mary Jane-cat agrees that fall cleaning in the garden gets us a great head-start to a Snooter-ific spring (and she is more than happy to supervise)!

Happy Snooter-gardenin’!