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Making Lemonade – or Stone Walls

March 31st, 2012

“He builded better than he knew,
The conscious stone to beauty grew.”
Ralph Waldo Emmerson
(found in Stone in the Garden)

Every time I dig a hole here at Chiot’s Run I end up with more stones than soil. It’s back building work (and biceps too), which I have to look at it as a treasure hunt for stones or it would quickly become frustrating drudgery. There’s a rather large pile of stones in the back that came from the digging of the foundation, I’ve added to it when the rocks I dig up aren’t needed for an immediate project. As a result I have a nice stockpile of stones ready for any project I can dream up, as long as my back can hold up.

Last fall, when I was planting tulips on the back hillside, I dug up rocks by the thousands. Some were small, about the size of a golf ball, most were about the size of a frisbee, and there were a good many that required a spud bar and could be categorized as boulders. I have been wanting to build a small rock wall to hold up the front edge of this bed for years, but have not had the energy or inspiration to do so. This past week, the weather was beautiful, the soil was still soggy, it was too cold to pain the remaining doors, so I decided to work on this wall.

Most of the rocks that went into the wall were dug from the soil that it’s holding back. The result is definitely wonderful as stone walls add a sense of history and permanence to a garden. Where once a garden seemed to drift into the lawn, now there’s a definite dramatic edge. This wall is the perfect height for sitting and from it you can admire the maple grove behind you up over the small hill or the raised bed garden behind the garage. I capped it with large flat stones just for this purpse (the little black garden cat seems to think it’s the perfect spot for her afternoon naps).

I need another day or two to finish up this project, my arms were getting pretty tired by the end of the afternoon I had spent working on this. It’s so nice to see dreams taking shape in the garden. Hopefully this stone wall will help limit erosion on this hillside and provide a beautiful spot to sit and enjoy the garden.

Around here building with stone is like making lemonade from lemons. What could be a source of frustration is now a source of raw materials and beauty throughout the garden (not to mention some serious biceps and a strong back).

What’s one of the biggest frustration that you have with your current garden? Have you been able to turn it into lemonade?

For more reading and great inspiration on how to use stone in your garden, I highly recommend this book. After renewing the copy from the library many times I finally purchased a copy for my library. The beautiful images are an inspiration for all the stone projects in my garden.

Reading & Watching

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.