Plants, Stone, California Landscapes


Posts Tagged ‘dark shadows’

Connecticut Blue Flagstone and Concrete

Last week I helped a family member prep his house for sale (update 8/10 — it’s now sold). I had done some stonework there a few years ago, so to prep it now we just added some sod and mulch. The house is in Albany with one of those tiny East Bay backyards, really easy to work in; I think family members should all be encouraged to have really small yards.

The flagstone here is Connecticut Blue, a sandstone which is not always from Connecticut and only sometimes looks bluish. It gets sold in a lot of different shapes and thicknesses out here, popular for creating that East Coast bluestone look. We tend to use it when we want to blend in with existing concrete and not put that concrete to shame. In this case, we wanted to make the massive former hot tub slab look like an integrated part of the yard, rather than just a massive former hot tub slab. We also wanted to make the massive wall of ivy into something other than a massive wall of ivy, but that phase never happened, a project for the future owners, I guess.

When you factor in the embedded energy and the $500/ton price tag, I’m not sure Connecticut Blue is all that much better than just using recycled concrete/urbanite for a patio, but there’s no question the stacked flagstone makes a much nicer step.

I like the Connecticut Blue in the hellstrip with the gold path fines. We used blue path fines for the joints of the patio, and in retrospect it would have been better with the gold. The blue has a tendency to leave little gravelly bits on the stones, not nice for bare feet.

All of the stone is leftover from a much larger job; instead of throwing it away or selling it on Craigslist, I used it here. Some of the stone in the raised bed was too thin to dry-stack, so I mortared it with a hidden joint so it would look dry-stacked but still be solid. Other parts of the wall, using the larger stones, are actually dry-stacked, but no one can tell the difference.

Leptospermum Dark Shadows

Leptospermum Dark Shadows

All the stonework and most of the plants went in three years ago, so the main thing we did to get the yard ready was to add sod. I spend a lot more of my time taking out lawns instead of putting them in, but lawns do have their merits and sometimes you gotta just throw down some sod. The Leptospermum ‘Dark Shadows’ were planted as 1 gallons three years ago. Pretty fast.

And just to compare with the Connecticut Blue in path fines, a photo of recycled concrete/urbanite in path fines from a different project, the closest comparison I have.

Tree Racing with Leptospermum Dark Shadows

leptospermum 'dark shadows'

Leptospermum 'dark shadows'

These are two Leptospermum “Dark Shadows” that we’ve been racing. They have both been in the ground for almost two and a half years. The one on the left we planted as a 1 gallon, the one on the right as a 5 gallon. The race happened by accident (we originally planted three fives, but I messed up on the irrigation and one of them died, to be replaced two months later with a one gallon; so, technically, the one on the right had a head start) but we’ve been watching the two plants grow with about as much excitement as a race between two immobile objects can generate. 

Supposedly, the one gallon tree will catch up after three years, and be the larger, healthier, more drought-tolerant specimen after five. That’s a bit of garden lore we’ve been repeating to clients, and this was our accidental test case. As you can see, the one gallon has caught up in height, after only two and a half years, though the five gallon is much fuller and has a significantly thicker trunk.

Sadly, the race has now concluded. The client moved to a new site and decided to try to take his tea trees with him. One tree has been moved already, and the others have been severely root pruned in an unfinished or aborted transplant attempt. We’re pretty sure they’re all going to die. I wish I had a better photo of them.

ryan 1/3/09

— Update 9/20/09 — The client left the largest specimen behind, probably because it was too big to transplant. It survived the root pruning and looks healthy. One of the transplanted trees is dead, but the other one — the one gallon — was is still alive, though with very little foliage.

— Update 6/15/10 — The race is back on. The one gallon tree survived its transplant. I guess it was still young enough and I should never doubt the resilience of young plants.

Leptospermum Dark Shadows, 5 gallon

Leptospermum Dark Shadows, original location

The five gallon tree that was root-pruned but not transplanted is still healthy. The one gallon is smaller but has more foliage.

Leptospermum Dark Shadows, transplanted

Leptospermum Dark Shadows, transplanted