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Conquer a Hillside With Stone

What to do with a slope? Conquer it with stone and plant a garden, of course!

I love rocks, and I am deeply covetous of genuine stone walls and terraces. I love the ageless charm of stone that modern concrete blocks and pavers can't duplicate. I love its durability and its strength of character. So when I heard about Madlynn Morgan's backyard garden, I had to see it. 

Here is a picture of Madlynn's slope in spring. One walks through an arbor and up steps to different levels of the garden:A fence at the top of the slope was necessary to prevent deer from turning the garden into their favorite buffet.

Here is a recent summer image:

I like how garden tools are incorporated into the arbor:

The steps lead to a sitting area beneath a weeping Japanese maple, and then on up to a swing on the far side of the fence:

Now, as summer temperatures soar, colorful foliage complements the stone:Clockwise from top left: a view of some of the foliage; Nandina 'Blush Pink'; Abelia 'Kaleidoscope'; Acalypha wilkesiana 'Tiki peach whirl.'

Lovely decorative elements are incorporated throughout Madlynn's property, not just in the backyard garden:

I like this grilling area adjacent to the house:

Madlynn's garden is a great example of how hardscape can define and contain a garden. It is not a huge garden, but it is filled with interesting elements and lovely plantings and a few ideas I would like to copy!


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Reader Comments (15)

thanks for sharing your garden visit, Deb! I'd really love to get a professional team in to terrace my slopes in back and front but I'll probably have to make do with DIY efforts. I hope to bring in rock to establish flat planting pockets on the less steep front slope (akin to the approach used in the Huntington's Desert Garden) but, with the onset of summer heat, that project will probably have to wait until fall.

June 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKris P

A slope can be challenging but when tamed add so much interest in a garden with it change of depth :) a lovely example!

June 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMark and Gaz

Beautiful block/stone work and accents. Can't imagine a homeowner doing it themselves. Wow !

June 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPatsi

Our last garden was terraced as we lived on a sand dune! Let's just say that getting up there to do the weeding was interesting! A slope certainly adds interest, far more than a flat garden, Madlynn has made a really interesting garden.

June 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPauline

Those decorative garden tools ... look as if they would be a pleasure to work with.

June 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDiana Studer

Another gorgeous garden! The stone walls are beautiful and I love the big stone slabs as steps too. There is something so timeless about using real stone in the garden and you are right, concrete or pavers just don't give that special look.

June 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKate R

Gorgeous hardscaping and lovely garden! I love the way the tools have been incorporated into the arbors as much as you do Deb!

June 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer


June 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJean

Oh, I love that terraced wall, too! I'd like to add more stone to the garden, but the budget hasn't allowed it. I will keep my dreams alive, however. ;-)

June 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBeth @ PlantPostings

It's a lovely garden, but I imagine pricey to create (and maintain) all those stone terraces?

June 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAaron Dalton

Like you, I agree stone has a charm that man made masonry cannot usually duplicate. There are stone products fou home building that are hard to tell the difference though. Laid products have not quite caught up yet. You can always pick up a pattern. It costs much more for installation for real stone because modular units go in fast and are easy to handle, but so worth the end result. Most of my designs include stone rather than pavers because the home's character demands this material and the folks can afford it. This garden is very pretty and like you mentioned, does have interesting elements.

June 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

Oh that is lovely! I too am a lover of rocks and walls and hardscaping in general. When done well it really provides a space for plants to shine.

June 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKarin/Southern Meadows

Deb, what Madlynn has done with her slope garden makes some of our flat ones look boring.

June 24, 2016 | Unregistered Commenteralistair

I love stone also, but it doesn't naturally occur much in this area. Most likely flat limestone if there is any. I love how those trees in the background look like columns.

June 24, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterjason

I love stone and how they add interest to the garden, but I really appreciate that my own garden is flat so I can comfortably walk around in it. I would have loved to copy some of the features in this garden though, if I had access to stone (and some burly man to lift for me!) as the low walls are absolutely beautiful and would work on flat ground too. Thanks for letting us tag along with you on your visit!

June 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterHelene

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