Design Idea: Plant On or In Your Stone Wall (Rather Than Just Beneath It)

February 25, 2011 | Materials + Tools, Plants, Wabi Sabi

snowdrops planted on top of stone wall

Particularly in the USA, I think we have this tendency to be overly concerned with keeping things pristine and new. In other parts of the world is is common to see less than perfect and more time worn stone walls and garden structures. We tend to find them beautiful and scenic.

While new is nice, there is also a place for the rustic natural stone walls with enough dirt on them that you can plant your bulbs on top of or on the sides of the walls rather than just in the ground beneath. This faux wabi-sabi can be built into the design of the wall.

Concha over at Saidos da Concha took these images near her home in rural Staffordshire, England.  I think they are beautiful and I am wondering if I can let go of a little bit of perfectionism in my masonry projects to allow in a bit of rugged earthy beauty like these plants provide.

daffodil bulbs planted on top of stone wall cornwall england

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Climate and plant choices will have much to do with any individual success with this.

Do a bit of research. I’m not sure daffs would survive on a wall like this in my Michigan zone 5 garden…

This wall is very pretty.

I’m doing a two foot high retaining wall, forty feet long, and I would love to have dry stacked battered fieldstone. It would have been perfect for the drainage too, with natural weepholes, and I’m sure moss and some other things would have volunteered on it. Violets honeysuckle and onion grass at least. But the budget monster shoved us back to cast cement, which is much too regular in shape and color. I feel like stone costs more because of demand – it can’t be that much more labor or materials.

So maybe if I train some honeysuckle or trumpet over part of it, it wont be so bad. And some crocus on top. Maybe build in a pocket for liriope, or even some ferns. I guess anything that can manage between the knots of tree root back there will grow some in a wall pocket.

In my climate, nothing remains pristine for long. In warm weather Lantana trails over huge chunks of limestone that delinate the right of way in front of my house. In winter I cut back dead stems just enough to allow daffodils to come up through, adding the chopped tan bits to pinestraw mulch. Annuals follow, then perennials and shrubs with the return of Lantana for a colorful summer and fall. Do what works where you plant.

I agree. It certainly adds softness to the wall.

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