Plants, Stone, California Landscapes


Connecticut Blue Tumbled

One of the other forms Connecticut Blue takes in the Bay Area is as tumbled stone for edging and very low walls. It comes in a few different widths, but the stone in this garden is 6 inches in width, which is a bit undersized for retaining walls; the stones just don’t have the mass to lock in securely. Also, the tumbling makes the stone kind of low on friction. But, that said, the stone has been in this garden a long time (since before I first saw it five years ago), and it’s really easy to re-stack any sections that shift. It’s probably one of the best stones to use if you don’t have much experience at stacking; you just try to keep the stones level and break your joints. I like it for this type of cottage garden with the plants growing around the stone, hiding it in the summer and revealing it in the winter.

In the last photo, you can sort of see from the wide joints that the stones on this section are slowly migrating down the slope. A rule of dry-stacking is to keep the stones perpendicular to gravity even on a cross-slope, like steps rather than a ramp. The more regular and rectangular the stone, the more important it is, but people don’t seem to follow that rule as much nowadays in this age of mortared stonework. It’s not a big deal with low edging that is so easy to re-stack, but it would be a problem in a larger wall. In this case, though I was spending a few hours re-stacking someone else’s stonework, I considered it more like garden maintenance than a stone repair job, and if I hadn’t been replanting the garden, the owners would have left the stone how it was. A few plant photos are below.

The garden has a lot of whimsy and one of the more successful trash can screens that I’ve seen, a metal trellis covered with Abutilon and Akebia quinata.


3 Responses to “Connecticut Blue Tumbled”

  1. August 1st, 2010 at 4:12 am

    Carol says:

    Lovely rock wall and plantings … I love your first and last photos.

  2. August 1st, 2010 at 9:49 am

    wiseace says:

    The tumbled blue stone is nice. I’ve used it on Long Island to build some low ‘retaining’ walls. I mortared the stone in place since the owner’s kids like to take things apart. It’s a great ‘beginners’ stone because it’s so easy to use.

  3. August 1st, 2010 at 10:18 am

    ryan says:

    I like both of those combos too. The abutilon is such a deep red against the akebia foliage.

    A great ‘beginners’ stone is right. With the tumbled stone, it’s kind of like you’ve had someone else shape your stone for you. Even in the spot that is sliding because they didn’t lay the stone ‘right,’ it still looks fine and keeps the soil and mulch in the bed.

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