Half a Ton of Rocks

I DEBATED WHETHER TO CALL THIS POST The Disappearing House, The Solid Green Garden, or Midsummer Disappointments. But I didn’t want to be negative, so I’m calling it Half a Ton of Rocks, because those round rocks, above — all 1,000 pounds of them are the thing I’m most excited about at the moment. I chose them at Southampton Masonry, a stone yard, because they match the existing edging around my garden beds, below, which is incomplete and needs continuation. And because I’ve gotten tired, after three years, of scavenging from the woods, the beach, the roadside.

This summer, I’m planning to develop the wilderness, i.e. the backyard, particularly one area that’s a bit sunnier than the rest and where I hope to grow something colorful, i.e. flowers. Which brings me to the solid green disappointment. My garden beds are hardly ablaze with color; the pale-pink dwarf astilbes and caladiums, below, are about as colorful as it gets around here these days. I did have purple alliums, irises, yellow evening primroses, and some bigger, brighter astilbes in June, but at the moment it’s all just varied shades of a single color: green.

Some of those green things are thriving. The miscanthus are so big they obscure the house, below, which is fine with me. I like the screening.

But no color there either. Even my stand of rhodies, below, which I radically pruned last July, failed to produce more than a single bloom in May — that’s right, one flower on a 30-40′ hedge. But they do seem happy, foliage-wise, and I have faith that next year will bring back the blooms.

The overall lack of color is due mainly to too little sun and hungry deer. Combine the two, and there’s really very little that will flower well. The deer pressure, as they call it, is on. There are two new white-spotted Bambis visiting this season, along with their older relatives, so I guess that means the flock, or pride, or whatever you call a group of deer, is surviving the gradual suburbanization of the area. Below, the Japanese anemones I was looking forward to, reduced to sticks. And yes, I have been spraying Deer-Out, but it rains, and I was in the city for a while, and can’t always be on top of things. They got 90% of the buds. The other thing I was looking forward to for late summer color — ligularias, of which I had a dozen that were fabulous last year — have succumbed to the heat. Most of them are just one pathetic, slug-eaten leaf.

Even the house plants and containers on my front deck, below, are blah. That area’s not so very sunny either (facing east, under huge trees), and — would you believe — the deer come up there when I’m not home. The nerve.

I visited a friend in Shelter Island last Sunday who has, by my standards, an abundance of sun, and was sooooooo jealous of her coneflowers, below, and butterfly weed, and lots of other stuff.

My options:

  • I can limb up or even remove some big trees to create more sun, but I’ve already taken down 5 or 6 huge oaks, and many of the ones that shade my property don’t belong to me anyway.
  • I can sell my house and buy another one on a sunnier piece of property, but that seems rather extreme.
  • I can rent a 20’x20′ patch at a community garden a few miles away, well-fenced and in full, all-day sun, and even grow vegetables. Maybe next year; it’s only $175 a season.
  • I can embrace the color green. It is serene and beautiful, and I’m doing the best I can with varying shades and shapes of foliage, but that’s never going to be totally satisfying.
  • I can get a deer fence, finally, and that I am definitely going to do this fall.

Meanwhile, I’ve got a lot of rocks to play with.

About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
This entry was posted in COTTAGE LIVING, GARDENS & GARDENING, HAMPTONS, LONG ISLAND. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Half a Ton of Rocks

  1. Mary-Liz says:

    Those stones are beautiful! Can’t wait to see what you do with them – although I am sure you won’t be cured of your scavenger habit! Looking forward to the deer fence also!

  2. That’s a ton of pretty rocks. The deer fence is a must then you can grow or try to grow impatiens for color in the shade. I like your garden anyway even without flowering plants.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I have the same problem here in Kenwood (Sonoma CA). We only deer fenced an area that is 30′ x 30′ rather than fence the entire property. We dug out our poor soil (clay) and built beds that are lined with mesh…(yet still have gophers and other critters…in our vegetable garden). You and my sister Barbara need to come out next spring and help this novice gardener with planting!
    Cousin Peter

  4. Julia Mack says:

    Your abundant foliage probably helps to keep your house cooler on 100′ days like these.

  5. You’ve probably already thought of it but coleus are very colorful all season long and do well in mostly shade.

  6. Terry says:

    We’re in “green-out” now at our place. We’ve got “all those wonderful textures” but it’s all green and it gets claustrophobic. Trying to find some folk art to nail to distant trees along sight-lines to draw our eye. They’d be year round and would work even when blooming failed. Thanks and rock on Cara, rock on.

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