I Have Rocks In My Head... I Mean Garden Bed!
Love Affair with Rocks
My love affair with rocks started in my youth. How could it not? I was exposed to their beauty and utility in my earliest of remembrances.
My father grew up living in a house that his dad built. In fact my father was born in that house. That was a rather common practice in 1925 at least in small towns.
My grandfather whom I never met because he died of pneumonia when my dad was only 7 years old (also common back then prior to penicillin and other drugs being invented) designed the terraced hillside leading down to Okauchee Lake in the State of Wisconsin. He utilized numerous rocks in its construction.
The rock garden must have been gorgeous in it's day! Each terrace had not only its share of different shaped rocks of various sizes and colors, but shrubbery and flowers that would have created a scene of spectacular beauty as viewed from the shoreline looking back up to the house. It was also enjoyed by the people in boats who would be passing this site.
My grandfather also built a number of cottages going down the hill and all of them were lakeside. As the hill flattened out more terracing was not necessary. These were summer cottages and were rented out primarily to city folks coming to enjoy the lake for the season.
It was fortunate that my grandmother had this source of income as her husband died at such an early age. It was hard work getting the cottages readied for the summer. Piers had to be put in to the lake. Painting the cottages, cleaning them and preparing them for the summer occupants took much time and effort.
My dad got the job of mowing all the lawns among other chores.
Keeping the terraced garden weeded and tended was not just work but a source of relaxation and pride for my grandmother. The photos of the rocks at the top of this piece are ones from that very hillside. I am fortunate to have 3 rocks from that location in my possession today.
Once I began the process of collecting rocks it has been continued up to this very day. The rock pictured above came from one of our Wisconsin neighbor's parent's farm. In tilling their fields they were constantly unearthing new rocks which served as impediments to their planting efforts. They were happy to let us take as many rocks as we wanted.
We had a sump pump in our basement that would electrically operate when the water table would get high. Instead of water flooding our basement the pump worked to force water outside into a retaining pond that my husband and I had constructed.
Various multicolored rocks of different sizes and shapes lined the pond and when not filled with water the rocks became the eye catching focus of this part of the yard. We had flowers lining the perimeter of the rock garden in the summer.
My husband and I lived in Wisconsin Rapids for 4 years. When we moved back to Houston, Texas many of these rocks were moved along with our other possessions.
Rock Memories and Souvenirs
Now instead of simply wanting a remembrance from my grandmother's home and also using rocks to fulfill a purpose like the construction of that pond I started collecting rocks as souvenirs from various places that we had visited.
The one above is from Moonlight Bay in the Door County region of Wisconsin. It is a beautiful vacation spot for most people. In fact my parents honeymooned there!
Imagine a peninsula surrounded by water from Lake Michigan with charming cottages and cute little towns. One distinct memory my husband and I have is of a grass covered roof with a goat on top munching the grass. One does not see sights like that in most places!
Flower boxes filled with blooming geraniums and other brightly colored flowers are in abundance during the summer months. Friendly shopkeepers and restaurant owners are there to fulfill one's every need and desire.
Spring, summer and fall one can count on Door County being filled with tourists. If you plan a vacation there make your reservations well in advance to secure a room. Then sit back and enjoy this quaint area filled with aquatic views almost everywhere one gazes.
This rock from Door County is in my garden today to remind me of our brief vacation there.
The pictured rock above came from the Hill Country of Texas. My brother helped lift them into the trunk of my car one time when I was visiting him. I like to use natural rocks like this one as stepping stones. They certainly are prettier than the concrete ones that one can purchase in most nurseries and garden centers.
Have you ever looked at rocks up close? They are things of beauty inside and out. While some can look quite ordinary on the outside if sliced open and polished they become quite extraordinary pieces of jewelry or can be put to other decorative uses.
The rock above with the lichens growing on it looks like an abstract painting when photographed up close. It has a prime spot in our backyard where we can enjoy its distinct form and shapely mass.
This rock pictured above with the quartz crystals was purchased from a rock shop alongside the road while we were traveling through Arkansas. It along with a few other purchases grace our backyard and add highlights to the rest of the landscape.
Rocks In My Head?
While most of my rocks have prime staging areas in the garden and become a focal point others are gathered together to show off their contrasting colors and shapes.
I remember with humor the time I had picked up a number of small rocks from a vacation in Oregon and put them in my suitcase. Some bright orange rocks and some totally green in color were among my prizes.
The suitcase was obviously very heavy and all was well until I got to the area of the airport where my carry on luggage was screened. Not realizing that my umbrella and the opaque rocks looked very suspicious to the person looking at the x ray, I was asked to open my luggage and display the contents.
The airport screener just shook her head in disbelief when she realized what those queer shapes on her x ray machine turned out to be. She said and I quote: "I have never seen rocks worth carrying home in a suitcase!"
I know that she thought that I had rocks in my head! Well as the old saying goes one person's trash is another person's treasure.
I value these collected rocks along with the memories they invoke. Although we have recently moved to a new home and had to leave some of them behind a selection of them continue to happily reside in our backyard garden.
Do any of you readers have a similar attachment to rocks? I would love hearing from you to see what you do with them.
Do you collect rocks and use them in your landscaping?
Identification of Rocks
Below you will find many informative videos identifying various types of rocks plus one showing the largest crystal ever found. Enjoy!
© 2009 Peggy Woods