Fun with a Bag of Rocks
What was your favorite present?
I bet it was the box.
If you were the kid who threw the new toy aside and turned the box into a fortress, you're probably an individual with imagination and an appreciation for the simple things in life ... like driftwood, arrowheads, butterfly wings, snail shells.
And river rocks.
For gardeners, river rocks can provide visual interest to flower beds, container plants, floral arrangements, stepping stones and more.
Below are just some of the ways a bag of rocks can add beauty to homes and gardens.
Sometimes the simplest things are best.
River Rock Mulch
River rocks have a subtle beauty that's wonderfully apparent when they're juxtaposed against naturally beautiful things like rich soil, bark, tender shoots and flowers. Use them around plants as an attractive mulch. Not only will they add to the general beauty, but they'll also conserve moisture.
To increase humidity for moisture-loving container plants, place pots on water-filled trays lined with river rocks
- Building a Rock Garden - Plants, Rocks and Design Ideas
Hubber Dave Pinkney shares his tips for building a rock garden.
The zen of river rocks.
Little Landscapes for Big Relaxation
Japanese rock gardens (Zen gardens) are comprised of simple natural elements, such as sand, gravel, grass--and river rocks.
Create your own with items that you have on hand. Or, get a kit that comes with every thing you need to create a miniature world of beauty and calm.
Watch a flower grow.
Water, Rocks & Sweet Spring Bulbs
How can you force hyacinths, crocus, tulips and daffodils to bloom indoors? It's surprisingly easy.
First, fill a clear, watertight bowl with river rocks. Then snuggle the bulbs down into them. Add just enough water to touch the bottom of the bulbs, and you're ready to go!
Place the container in a dark, cool spot in your garage or shed for 4 to 6 weeks. Then bring them into the warmth of your house to "force" the bloom. Oh, and be sure to add more water occasionally to keep the roots wet.
Invite a puddle club to your yard.
Fill the lid of flower pot with river rocks and water. Then set it in a sunny spot in your garden near flowering plants like butterfly bush, butterfly weed, Joe Pye weed, zinnia and cosmos. The shallow water will attract a rabble of butterflies that will land on the rocks for a drink.
The flower or the rock?
The lovely organic shapes and the subtle blues, browns, greens and pinks of river rocks are quite apparent when they're used in see-through flower vases to hold stems in place. You'll wonder which is more gorgeous--the flowers or the rocks that keep them upright?
Other simply beautiful natural objects include small seashells for summertime arrangements. In autumn, kumquats and acorns look just right. And during the holidays, fresh cranberries make jolly stem holders for boughs of holly.
But river rocks are perfect year round, and they look just as appropriate with humble daisies as they do with exotic orchids.
Start a new plant.
You can also use river rocks to propagate perennial shrubs like forsythia, butterfly bush, hydrangea and bridal wreath through a technique known as simple layering.
Just bend down a branch and place a rock on it so that a node on the stem is in contact with the ground.
If you're really feeling industrious, nudge a little soil around the rock. Then wait for roots to form.
Ready-made or homemade, river rock stepping stones are gorgeous, cool & smooth against the bottoms of your bare feet.
Smooth & cool against your skin.
River Rock Stepping Stones
Attractive river rock stepping stones are available for purchase online and at some garden centers, but with a bag of cement, a homemade cardboard mold and a bag of rocks, you can make one yourself for about $15 or less.
Use river rocks only, or add sea glass, marbles and other materials to your design.
And it's fun, too, to make informal, loose-rock stepping stones in easy patterns like paw prints, suns and moons.
Milk chocolate "rocks" in a candy coat.
Chocolate river rocks.
Yummy for Your Tummy
Add chocolate rocks to an outdoor lover's gift basket, use them to decorate cupcakes and other desserts or serve them as a snack.
Kids will love eating chocolate river rocks!
(And you might just like them too.)
Save a memory.
Collect, categorize, display and even personalize the rocks that you collect during special outings with your family and friends using these tips from fellow hubber grinnin1's "Create family "milestones" to record memories, traditions, and stories."
An Element of Heat
Add an architectural element, simple beauty and welcome warmth to your homescape, indoors or out, with a river rock fire bowl.
About the Author
The Dirt Farmer has been an active gardener for over 30 years.
She first began gardening as a child alongside her grandfather on her parents' farm.
Today, The Dirt Farmer gardens at home, volunteers at community gardens and continues to learn about gardening through the MD Master Gardener program.
© 2011 Jill Spencer