The making of a tufa garden

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deesen
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Joined: 2011-01-31

If envy and jealousy are sins, boy am I sinning ;D

David Nicholson
in Devon, UK  Zone 9b

Booker
Booker's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-30

deesen wrote:

If envy and jealousy are sins, boy am I sinning ;D

Lori, I'm with David ... enjoy your magnificent gardening experience.

Cliff Booker A.K.A. Ranunculus
On the moors in Lancashire, U.K.
Usually wet, often windy, sometimes cold ... and that's just me!

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

:)

Progress through the day...

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Lori wrote:

:)

Progress through the day...

Lori, I can't wait until you show us the next amazing variety of alpines grows between your tufa crevices next year.  I spy that wonderful bluish Satureja on the left hand side in your second photo.  I'm envious of your gardens, and sigh, I look at my garden this year and it's almost totally overcome with tall weeds; I've had so little time to do anything in the garden.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

I am equally impressed, too! 

And you have all that extra tufa without the shipping charge...
Maybe you should sell to the UK...  ;D

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Thank you for the comments!  
Boy, are my arms tired... and they look like I've been taming wildcats - all scratched and scraped!  With the extra tufa purchase (glad we did it), there was enough to do paths through the new beds, and enough for another smaller tufa bed somewhere... somewhen...  (Whew, that was enough for now!)  

Not to say this is what should be done  ;), but this is what we did, in summary...
The bigger, structural pieces were put in place (with much standing back to look at it, to see if the angles and shapes were pleasing) and then some of the mounded topsoil was packed in around their bases to stabilize them.  With the big pieces put in place, the gyra rock-sand-little bit of peat mix was then packed into all the crevices, using pieces of wooden board (1"x 2", 2"x 2") and a dandelion weeder for smaller crevices.  (The goal is for all pieces to be completely firm, so that I can crawl all over it for planting and weeding without dislodging any pieces.)  The pathways were done the same way... the tufa pieces fitted against the structural pieces to help hold them in place, and the mix packed in to make them all stable and firm.  Then, building upwards, there was more filling-in with the gyra/sand planting mix and chinking-in of spaces to keep the planting mix from spilling out (more of this needs to be done).  We then set the water sprinkler on it to wet things down and help it all settle... then I'll go over it again and look for places that need more packing tomorrow night.  Then, eventually, the top dressing of 1/2" tufa gravel can be added.  
And then, the trays of seedlings left over from spring can finally find homes!

Strangely, the pile of gyra rock in the alley seemed not to diminish no matter how much we took from it; there is an ample quantity put away for "sanding" the walks during the winter, we used it as a border all around, etc.... either my estimate of what we'd need was off, or we got rather more than the 2 yards ordered (Stuart claims the latter)... We wanted to get it out of the alley, so hauling the remainder into the yard was the day's last chore.

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

IMYoung
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-31

Well done, Lori.... and Stuart!
What a great job you've been making of these tufa gardens. Now, of course, if anyone wonders why there is such a shortage oftufa around, we now know its all at Lori's place!

I won't be offering to arm-wrestle you anytime soon after all that hauling rock  ;) ;) (Not sure why I would  be wanting to.... but you get my drift.... get exercise that rock hauling!)

Ian  and/or Margaret Young ( -here it is usually Margaret)

Aberdeen , North East Scotland, UK
Zone 8a

www.srgc.net

deesen
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Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-01-31

Lori, what is "gyra" rock please?

David Nicholson
in Devon, UK  Zone 9b

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Thanks, Maggi!  It's fortunate that tufa and other stone is available around here at (relatively) low cost.
Well, I'm sure it goes without saying that normally I'd be delighted to arm-wrestle you ( ???  ;)), but I feel that perhaps I should save my strength for more gravel-packing on the weekend!  ;D ;D  

I have no idea why it's called "gyra rock" - and can't find any references to explain it so perhaps it's just a local term? - but anyway, it's fine gravel/pebbles, in this case sieved to a nominal size of 7mm (though actually the size varies quite a bit; perhaps 7mm is an average/median?)  The individual particles are naturally rounded (so probably from a fluvial deposit of glacial age) and usually rather oval-shaped with a longer and a shorter axis.  

(NB. The more consistent the grain size and the better the rounding, the better the permeability, by the way... as opposed to the common misconception that "sharp" particles, i.e. angular ones, yield the best permeability.)

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Tim Ingram
Title: Member
Joined: 2011-04-27

I really must get going after all this from Lori! But now I'm torn after listening to Peter Korn describe his garden in Sweden (at Lamberton, Ron McBeath's nursery, last Saturday). He uses sand and gravel on an epic scale and should be able to give Lori a good run for his money! Seriously the description of his garden was truly remarkable and inspirational but I suspect tufa wins out at the end of the day for the choicest of plants.

Dr. Timothy John Ingram
Faversham, Kent, UK
I garden in a relatively hot and dry region (for the UK!), with an annual rainfall of around 25", winter lows of -10°C and summer highs of 30°C.
 

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