|The edges are too symmetrical, too uniform|
It is decorative, it doesn't carry any water. My main goal in constructing it was to use up all the rocks that had accumulated around the property every time I dug a hole.
I used them all. But it didn't look right. Too symmetrical or something. The edges had no variation, and it did not look natural.
I kept adding more stones every time I dug in the garden (the supply is endless. You can re-dig in the same hole you made a month ago and new rocks will have formed. Lots of them.) I kept trying to get the stream bed to look better, adding more and more material and becoming more and more dissatisfied.
My neighbor Kit's dry stream bed, professionally installed and running the entire length of her back yard, looked like what I was after. Really, what was the difference, other than money, materials, depth, scale, an arched granite footbridge, a hired landscaper and a backhoe? Why couldn't I make my tiny amateur version look like hers using only a wheelbarrow and my garden trowel? Why not?
|Kit's dry stream bed: my model|
Finally, after studying constructed stone stream beds at public gardens and in photos, it dawned on me: subtraction. Not addition.
Take some of the edging stones away. Leave random breaks in the stream bank. Let the grass and low plants grow down into the breaks. So I started removing rocks, sighing as I undid a lot of the hard work I had done, one by one, rock by friggin rock.
In the end I took out about a quarter of all the rocks, and left some small breaks along the bank cut directly into the garden or lawn. I bought some pea gravel and added it for contrast.
|The flat oval stone in mid stream is to step across. I think I need an arched wooden footbridge instead|
|I made a rock overhang for the trout to hide in on hot days|
|I'll let the pink dwarf beebalm (Monarda 'Petite Delight') creep into the rocks, but probably will have to edit (weed) it frequently|
|I like the random edging much better|
|In all the rework and fussing and adding pea stones, I lost any depth. . . it's a flat stream bed now. Mmmph.|
Garden design involves editing. Sometimes taking away plants or materials is an improvement. It took me forever to get that idea in this project.
But even as I absorb the lesson of gardening by subtraction, I am planning to add things to this area --- a creeping mat groundcover that will inch down into the stones, replacing the turf edges.
A little wooden footbridge, more plants to spill over the edges, some irises anchored in the rocks at the margins, and sweet smelling clethra at the inside curve. Maybe a few bigger rocks that are more boulder-sized.
And . . . . .
Subtraction as a design concept is not going to be easy for me.
As of June 2015 -- Here's an update: I did add a curved bridge over the little creekbed in 2013.