I have long admired the work of rock sculptor, George Carruth. His rock heads and faces are my favorites among his extensive collection of carvings. Why not, I thought, incorporate one of his rock sculptures in a bed lined with rocks? It would be an interesting and different way to expand the rock theme.
Once I had the sculpture in hand, I studied all the rock-lined beds for a place to display it. I decided on a spot where foot traffic is fairly heavy, so that garden visitors and I could enjoy the smiling face as we passed by. It was also an area that was not dominated by large plants or bushes, so that attention was focused on the sculpture.
Then it was off to a local garden center to scout for rocks I might use to incorporate with the face. I wanted to continue the rock theme by embellishing the face a bit with different kinds of rocks. I remembered seeing rock embellishment with sculptures in other gardens, but I couldn't remember the kinds of rocks used or exactly what the display looked like, so I decided to work with the rocks available at the garden center. I chose slender blue rocks to encircle the face and larger, fatter rocks in shades of brown and tan with patches of gray and traces of blue to form a border.
To prepare the site for installation, I sloped the ground a bit where the face would go. That way I could tilt the face, so that it was visible from a distance and the viewer didn't have to walk all the way up to it and then look down in order to see the expression. I put down a base of sand to serve as background and also to discourage weeds. Those that did manage to germinate would also be easier to pull.
I was about to declare the project complete when I remembered that I had an old vinyl barrel liner that I never used. Perhaps burying it in the ground and creating a small water feature as background for the installation might work well.
I sank the liner into the ground right up to the rim. Then it was back to the garden center for more rocks. I decided to hide the rim of the liner with rocks, tying the water feature to the rock theme and to the sculpture. I chose rocks that were slightly larger than those of the sculpture border and blue-gray in color.
I decided on three rows of rocks. The first row went around the outside of the rim. The second row went around the inside of the rim, positioned so that the rocks jutted out just a bit over the water. I glued these to the rim to stabilize them and so that they wouldn't tumble into the water. The best glue around for this sort of application is E6000. I found that it takes several minutes for the glue to get tacky enough so that the glued rocks wouldn't slide into the water. Not wanting to wait two minutes or more for each rock, I glued a series of them at the same time and held them in place with the ever-popular duct tape (Photo 1 below). Once the glue had cured, I installed the third row. I placed these rocks over the gaps between the inside and outside rows of rocks, i.e., in the middle of the two rows as in the Photo 1. I glued these rocks in place as well.
As you can see, I've already added some aquatic plants to the mini pond. The three small plants floating on the water are water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes). The plant in the center is Iris 'Black Gamecock.' In photo 2 note that I've disguised the iris pot with some left over rocks.
|Photo 1: Water feature with duct-taped rocks. Note the rocks at the very bottom of the photo. This is the original rock border installed by my mother-in-law.||Photo 2: The finished project. To see the entire photo, please click on it.
Once the Scilla siberica leaves to the right of the installation melt away, I'll "landscape" the perimeter with small annuals or perennials.
I found this project to be a simple one that any gardener can accomplish with little effort and without great expense. It doesn't require any complicated measurements, calculations, or construction tools. A shovel and a garden trowel are all you'll need if you decide to try your hand at creating something similar. I think you'll enjoy the process and be as pleased as I am with the result.
Meet George Carruth