The Rockery Garden - Est. 2003
The front of the house is framed by a raised Rockery Garden made entirely from stone found right here on the quarry.
As part of the planning application for Turra Lodge a number of supplementary landscape design proposals were also submitted. Among these submissions was a vague garden boarder where now lays an established menagerie of plants and trees… The Rockery Garden.
When building the house in 2003 the Rockery Garden was established to border the front lawn and soften the aesthetic of the new build.
So, how did this garden bed come to be?
If you have been following along for a while now you will know that the mindset of us here at Turra Lodge Farm is that, where possible, we use what we have available to us.
And if you consider the location, what was available was the unlimited stone of the quarry.
The bed was built with natural stone we uncovered when landscaping the property. Mountains of soft shale were uncovered as we dug into the land.
If you are not familiar, shale is a beautiful stone with gorgeous metallic colouring in the sunlight, when it is wet it becomes even more beautiful and almost sparkles as the water reflects the blue and red pigment of the stone.
So, the shale was plentiful and easily relocated to form the flower bed, but the downside of this rock is that overtime it disintegrates from its larger form and shatters into dust which then compacts together forming what is essentially a stone slab.
In terms of sowing a garden, this structure does not provide ideal conditions for planting.
The roots of plants struggle to establish as they attempt to weave their way through the shattered rubble in a search for soil and nutrients.
Now, just because it's not ideal does not mean it’s impossible.
Difficult conditions are no obstacle for us here on Turra Lodge Farm. After all, it is a coalmine we are working with here! We are used to these sorts of challenges and more.
So, the rocks were assembled forming the mounded rockery, additional soil was placed between the rocks to provide easily accessed nutrition for the newly sown plants.
Originally the plants put into this bed included a mixture of Thuja species, Boxus, Hypericum, Bamboo, and bright flowering perennials.
Some of these plants have been generously successful in their home here but others did not have the same fate and struggled to establish among the rocky surface.
It was yet another series of trial and error here on the farm to find out what would work and what just wasn’t meant to be.
Now, as this is a Rockery Garden, a lot of people may ask why we didn’t plant the garden with rockery plants that would be perfectly suitable for these conditions. Instead, we chose shrubby species that require a decent root system.
The short answer is, we have dogs….
Rockery plants are generally low growing and softly structured. A thing our animals seem to love playing in.
So, although I do love rockery plants, using them in the garden would mean we are essentially planting a play area for the dogs and such.
Instead, we chose plants with structure that would obstruct the animal’s path and therefore reduce the foot traffic in the flower bed.
Out of the original planting, some worked well, and some were a mistake which I will talk about in my next blog post “a bamboo takeover”.
The Rockery Garden is now a beautifully chaotic mixture of colour. From numerous species of hardy geranium to elegant peony roses this garden is continually bursting with colour.
The thing is, planting a garden is one big learning curve. You don’t always know which is the best species to plant, and what works well one year might not do amazing the next. A garden is always evolving and changing and for me that is the beauty of nature.
It’s a never-ending journey of change that teaches you important lessons along the way.