Entries in stone stairway (2)


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!



Stone Stairway to the Woodland Garden

I have a new entrance to the woodland garden. I am thrilled about this, as I have dreamed of it for years. The older, main entrance is quite a way from the house. One walks down the road and enters from the lower part of the front lawn. You can see this entrance in a recent photo from within the woodland garden. Look past the birdhouse, and you can see the path that leads from the lawn:Summer in the woodland garden

While I usually used the main entrance when touring folks around the garden, there was another way into the woodland garden. It was directly across from the house and was much handier, but it also involved walking down a steep slope on precarious homemade steps and tree roots. Earlier this year Lou watched as I maneuvered my way down the hill, and then he announced it was time for me to have a proper stairway. I think he was worrying about my arthritic hip.


Here is what the top end of the woodland garden looked like:If you squint, you may see one of my homemade steps in the distance.

Here is the same view, with a portion of my recently completed stairway visible in the background:A distant view of the new woodland stairway

I had to wait a few months for Paul, the stone guy, to get to my project. He finally showed up the very morning I was scheduled to have my hip replaced, about thirty minutes before I was to leave for the hospital! After all that waiting, I could not believe the day he chose to come. (It happened that I had talked to him a few weeks before, and there was a miscommunication about dates.) I asked Paul to wait until I was at home and on the road to recovery. He was very understanding and agreed to come back at a later date.

The wait was worth it. Here is a closer view of the new stone stairway:The rustic stone stairway is a perfect entrance to the woodland garden.

You can see that the stairway includes some planting beds along the sides. Frustration! I am three weeks into my recovery and in no shape to be planting anything. However, my friend Janet came over and kindly moved potted plants from various areas of my garden to give the stairway a more completed look. I have often used potted plants for instant gratification whenever I needed something in a particular spot, but for whatever reason was unable to plant it directly in the ground.

Here are some closer views of the potted plants I used:

Top: Variegated ivy; Stromanthe tricolor. Middle: Two types of plectranthus; Variegated plectranthus is in the green pot on the right. Bottom: Birds Nest Fern and Voodoo plant are on the left; Asparagus fern is on the right. At the top of the woodland stairway is a pot with Chamaecyparis 'Blue Boulevard'.

I had better get well in a hurry, so that I can keep the woodland garden worthy of its new entrance. If you have followed my blog for long, you may recognize the following scenes, but I thought you might like to see the views as one comes down the new steps.

Clockwise are shots taken from the stairway directly ahead, to the right, and to the left:

My physical therapist was right when he said my garden was its own therapy session. That is especially true now that I have a stairway to practice on, though very carefully!