Saturday, July 7, 2007

"Cuiridh Mi Clach Air Do Chàrn"

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.

October 7, 2005

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.

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.


Gina said...

I like the new structure. Nice gardens. I'd love some sedum ;)

Tee said...

Love the cairn! I mentioned a few days ago that I want to build one in Brian's back yard, but I want a more rounded, zen structure like the one seen here:

The gold bug is just too mondo, as well. I so love seeing the joy you get from your garden, Kylee. :)

Unknown said...

I know--we could all send you a small stone from wherever WE live, and you could put it on your cairn from us.

I keep that tradition when I go to the cemetaries where my people's mortal remains are, or to the Swissair 111 monument, or to other places of remembrance.

Since we're sharin' the Gaelic, I'll give you my favourite phrase: "Thig crioch air an t-saoghal ach mairidh ceol agus gaol." Which is to say, "An end will come to the world, but music and love will endure."

Carol Michel said...

The cairn is a very nice and what a great idea for everyone who visits the garden to bring a stone of some kind to place on it.

I didn't know much about cairns, so your post was also very informative for me.

Carol at May Dreams Gardens

Petunia's Gardener said...

I always have a stack of rocks around that come out of the garden, etc. Your structure has encouraged me to try using them more specifically this way. Hey, cannot beat using what you have handy!

Unknown said...

Oooh... yup, you definitely needed a cairn (*grin*) and it looks great, Kylee!

What kind of sedum do you have that you're pulling it out by the fistfuls? (I can't wait to see it in person soon!)

Kylee Baumle said...

Tee, you KNOW how much I enjoy my garden! ;-)

jodi, what a great idea! Sort of like those that visit my garden virtually could send a stone! Want to be the first? :-)

Kim, I don't know what cultivar this sedum is. I've not yet been able to make a definitive ID. My mom gave some to me and it has done exceptionally well! It's what you see in the lower right corner of the last picture. You'll see it for yourself soon! :-)

Gotta Garden said...

What an interesting thing to do! I love the Scottish bit...reminds me of the Outlander books which are so addictive!

Unknown said...

absolutely, Kylee: I'll have to hunt around my computer for your snailmail address (I seem to think I have it) but I'll send you a Bay of Fundy stone from the beach here in Scotts Bay.

Well, fellow garden-bloggers? Wanna play? it's probably easier for you in the US. What do you think customs will do when they find a rock in a package? giggle giggle

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