My Favourite Rock

Columbine on rock close May 12 2018

Last week.

One of the first big landscaping things we did when we started to sink roots into The County was buy this big limestone boulder.   We generally call it The Rock, and wanted to use it as a quasi headstone for the ashes of our beloved dog, a black Lab named Bogart, who had recently and quite unexpectedly died.

Bogart’s ashes are, indeed, buried under an overhanging part of The Rock, as are the ashes of  a subsequent dog and cat.  I used The Rock to anchor a new flower bed and patio  I created; a paper birch (Betula papyrifera) is on the other end, and there is a Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago), large upright Juniper and a white Spruce (Picea glauca) on one long side with a wide grass passage on the other.

The Rock Oct 19 2017

Last October

For the first few years the rick was barren – scraped clean by the mechanical process of yanking it from the ground, transporting it to our property then planting it in a a two foot deep hole.

Over the years plant life appeared on The Rock, growing from the fissures and holes that occurred naturally, finding the bits of sand and soil that were blown into these fissures and cracks, sending roots deep into The Rock and surviving our cold winters.

There are bonsai-like conifers: a cedar and two junipers, one upright and one prostrate.

Three Dwarf Conifers on the Rock Oct 19 2017

Three conifers growing in The Rock

There are grasses, Echinacea, Sedum, moss, dandelions (of course!) and my favourite, Aquilegia canadensis – our native columbine:

 

All these plants just found their own way to The Rock – seeds either dropped by birds, buried by chipmunks or insects or blown in by the wind. I don’t do much ‘gardening’ on The Rock – just a bit of editing now and then (ie puling dandelions).

It’s an ever evolving micro landscape that fascinates me every year.

rock and black eyed susan

10 years ago – the Rudbeckia is long gone; it was too hard to keep the lawn grass out and the site is too dry most summers  for it.

Patio in the snow December 28 2017

And in the winter, under an insulating snow blanket.

Creating a Garden in the Urban Jungle

On a busy street just east of the Don Valley near downtown Toronto there’s a tiny micro garden planted at the base of a 24/7 gas station sign.  I saw a man there once in early spring, hovering over the space as if he was weeding or planting but generally it’s unattended most of if not all summer.

I’m guessing watering is a challenge – I don’t recall much of anything thriving there during last year’s dry summer but this year (although on this last day if August you see mostly Cosmos)  a dozen or so species all happily cohabited this space.  There were perennials like New England Aster, Sedum spectabile , Phlox paniculata and poppies (you can still spot the ripe seed heads) and the show stopper Plume Poppy.

micro garden Datura

IMG_2504

Micro garden tomato

micro garden Sedum and Cosmos

micro garden - Plume Poppy

the show stopper Plume Poppy — Macleaya cordata