(Note the truck in the garden to the left for scale)
Today saw the last stones placed, the topdressing finished,
and the first 29 plants, including Othonna capensis, aka "Little Pickles" in homage to the site and gherkiny spirit of the place.
After dinner, I was aided by Kevin and Kevin. Kevin of Timberline and Kevin Pykkonen from the Rock garden club, who has been fascinated with Manzanitas in recent years, so here he is with an Arctostaphylos patula getting married to the sweet earth...
We are bareroot-planting everything. Look how long those roots are when teased out of the "ball." Kevin (the younger) was eager to plant on account of growing many of these plants up form propagules in the nursery and wanting to see how they do in the "real world." He grows the manzanitas in a higher-perlite mixture, which has been the breakthrough for successful production of these enigmatic things. We are planting them now because they are in active root growth, therefore fall is a good time to plant. It's been warm enough the Muhlenbergia are still rooting, too.
(Secret to timing for planting: slip a plant out of its pot before planting to see if it is growing new translucent or white root-tips. If so, it will establish quickly and healthily. Looking at roots is an unrthodox but totally legitimate thing to do at a nursery to ensure a beautiful looking plant is also doing well below the soil. )
We worked until sunset. I found myself lingering behind after closing up the fence. I'll be back to tie up loose ends and arrange the path grading/dressing, but this beast, phase one (stone) is essenitally done until early spring's phase 2 (plants plants plants).
I don't have an exact number yet from all the weights of loads of stone, but I know we are near or just under 60 tons, which would potentially and accidentally make this the world's largest crevice garden. It depends how one measures it- square footage? Square footage excluding path? Tons of all materials? (That honour would go to Montreal Botanic) Tons of stone? The latter is the practical measurement I use in business.
It's been fun. It's been exhausting. It's begged people to meet eachother who never would have met- and have them work together. It's asked questions like "How the heck does a person do such-and-such with such-and-such limitations…?" It's exposed weaknesses and strengths of people. It's helped a few of them pay thier bills; distract them or stimualte them outside of their normal lives.
A friend of mine says that a way we humans find purpose in contributing to something larger than ourselves. Perhaps. I'm happy, right now, to be a cog, a component, in a machine like this- a great hulking heap of bafflingly upright stones which beckons exotic plants to lounge like sun-warmed green odalisques, which all consipire to turn a head- pique a nose- toward botanical curiosity.