At that time, we had very little of anything with which to fill the new space, but we had found a large rock back by the creek and I wanted it in the garden. We eventually planted a few grasses directly behind it, some irises to one side, some Festuca ('Elijah Blue') at the left front corner and a little bit of sedum in a small hypertufa pot that my mom had made. The pot laid on its side so the sedum could spill out in front of it. That was the beginning and I liked it.
In Max's Garden, there is a large rock that got moved today. It was one of the first hardscape items to be put in place when we first created this garden in October of 2005.
Today, the grasses have grown quite a bit, to put it mildly, but then that's what grasses do. I've had to tear out some of the Ribbon grass (Phalaris arundinacea), because it migrated a bit into the walking path. The Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) are looking wonderful and that may just be my favorite ornamental grass of all. There is Maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus') too, and another one that I can't remember.
The sedum - OH, THE SEDUM! - anybody want some sedum? I'll plop it in an envelope and send you some. We'll never miss it. About once a month, I have to literally grab a handful or two and tear it out. I'm careful about how I dispose of it, too, because if it gets anywhere near dirt, stone, wood, anything except for fire, it's off and running again. But I like it a lot, so I'll continue to discipline it.
All of this growth means that the large rock we initially placed there isn't looking so large anymore. In fact, it's shrunk so much as to be barely noticeable. So for a couple of weeks now, I've been trying to figure out how to get one of the really large rocks that we've seen back by the creek up to the garden.
Then it dawned on me. We don't need a really big rock. We'll build a cairn! I announced this to Romie this afternoon and he said, "I have a sister named Karen." He can be so funny sometimes. Yes, he does have a sister named Karen, but he also knows what a cairn is. He watches PBS a lot.
A cairn is a stack of stones or rocks used to mark a spot for various reasons. People have been building them for hundreds of years, and it is believed they have their origin in Scotland. They can be placed as a means of marking a direction along a trail, to signify a memorial for someone who has died, or to mark the summit of a mountain, just to name a few purposes for them. Ours would be built just because I think they're neat.
So, I proceeded to roll the original stone away, meaning to place it somewhere else in the garden until I rolled it right over my foot. I was wearing my Crocs sandals. Time to take a break...
A couple of hours later, after answering some e-mails and having a dip in the pool (it was sunny and 89°), it was back to cairn-building. We had brought some larger rocks up from a previous walk by the creek and many of them were flat-sided. The farmer who works the adjacent field had piled many of them back there after collecting them from the field. You could see where some of them had been chipped by a disc and I'm sure that he's lost more than one disc from his plow, courtesy of those rocks. I'd asked him a couple of months ago if we could have them and he said for us to take all we wanted.
It didn't really take long to make the cairn. Once I got the base rocks where I wanted them, stacking the others was easy. For the top, I wanted something shaped a little out of the ordinary, and I'm still looking for just the right rock, but for now, here's our new little cairn:
I'm sure the cats will have to see how things look from the top. Hey...with all the cats we have around here, maybe we'll just have a live 'topper' on that cairn!
Cuiridh mi clach air do chàrn is a Scottish Gaelic blessing, which literally means "I'll put a stone on your cairn." The meaning though, is "I'll not forget you." The tradition is to take a stone and place it on another's cairn as a memento of your visit.
If you ever visit our garden, please bring a small stone with you, and you can place it on our cairn.