Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Rock Star


Linda and Missy
My aunt, Linda Williams, is a rock star.  Her Central Point, Oregon rock garden is a real stunner and has legions of fans.  I consider myself her #1 groupie.

Linda and I are the same age.  The two of us have been close our whole life and it is such a treat to garden together.  Linda is very creative and has an artist’s eye for color and placement.  She’s one of those crafty people too and always amazes me with her latest sewing project, table mosaic, stained glass, needlework or even a batch of cookies.  I am the absolute Plain Jane in comparison.  Lucky for me she doesn’t mind when I totally steal her great ideas.  And let me tell you, her garden is an idea worthy of grand theft.
Street view of Linda's garden.
When she purchased a new home on a bare lot in 2006, she wanted to create an ever-changing canvas that would handle the south facing Southern Oregon summer heat.  She was inspired by nearby resident Kathy Allen, whose extensive rock garden was featured in Sunset Magazine. The two women met at the Jackson County Master Gardener Plant Sale, which Kathy regularly participates in.

The tall front berm. 
Linda wanted to do something dramatic, so the two of us went to work.  I advised her to use nondescript rocks to create height for her berms instead of just piling soil.  That way the mounds would keep their original shape instead of slowly sinking away.  As luck would have it, we drove by the Crater Rock Museum on the way to collecting rock along the highway, and saw that the recent remodel had yielded two large piles of broken concrete.  The serendipity was too much to pass up.  The museum was thrilled to have us haul away the debris and thus the bones of the garden were born.
Linda uses gravel in walkways.

Small berm next to walkway
Linda’s home was in a new development so the builder still had topsoil in the area to landscape the remaining houses.  After assembling the concrete mound, we (and my husband Ed) hauled the soil to cover and shape the garden.  Linda then placed her “pretty” rocks throughout and finished the rest of the landscaping.
Blue cascade of glass pebbles

She has also used several other elements in her landscape; glass, wood, and ceramics also play a part to create a sense of whimsy throughout. She purchased many of her plants from Kathy Allen, but picks up new ones at various nurseries and sales. Her plant collection now yields enough starts for her to sell at yard sales and share with fellow enthusiasts.  She installed drip irrigation to water the yard about once a month, even during the hot summer.

One of her color "wallops"
Art glass on a hanger.
When asked what advice she has for people who'd like to copy her yard she says,  “Go for it - small or large scale.  Dig deep for the scavenger in yourself and start collecting plants and rocks you like.”  She has found that the easiest to grow are Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum tectorum) and likes all the colorful varieties.  Her favorite plants in the collection are mini Coral Bells. “I just love the rock garden flowers.  Small petite plants with a wallop of color. “

Linda crafts her own globes.  I love this one next to the strawberries.
The "old man" rock
Petrified volcanic ash.
The garden is constantly evolving as plants or rocks are replaced and rearranged.  The kaleidoscope of color she has created with both rock and plants is stunning no matter what time of year.   It’s been such a success that friends and family have her helping to create more rock gardens at their homes.   Her neighbors are fans too; Linda says they are always commenting, “You did this yourself!”

Part of Linda's heart rock collection
My favorite part of visiting her yard is discovering some new little vignette.


It’s a garden to savor and not to be viewed in a rush.  Just looking at all that rock we moved usually causes us to collapse in a chair to talk about where each stone came from.

It’s a long conversation.