I had to drive to the northwest part of Atlanta today to pick up the large-format pictures I had done for my show in Philadelphia next week. I got a message from them as I was almost there that my order was not done yet, they would need another 45 minutes to an hour. I was only five minutes away, but the woman I spoke to told me there was a Home Depot five minutes away and I can always kill some time at a Home Depot. Besides, I still have to construct a stand for a hanging piece that I want to display at the show. So I am on my way to the Despot (as we fondly call HD in our household) and I glance to my left and there is a boulder store! Well, it is not really just a boulder store, they have all kinds of landscaping material--most of it stone. And they are having a sale... I had to stop.
Last Saturday I took the day off from glass and motherhood and wifeliness and everything else to be a gardener for the day. I attended an all-day perennial plant symposium at the Atlanta Botanical Garden at which there were many fine speakers discussing the topic of southern gardening. Not being a native (or even a willing) southerner, I need all the help I can get. It was a revelation to listen to fifth and seventh generation southern gardeners talk about the plants and the soil we have here. I left with a crinum bulb clutched in my left hand, two autographed hard cover books on perennials and native plants in my right, and fervor in my heart to Get Out In The Garden. I didn't post any of this till now because anyone who keeps up with this blog and Glass Incarnate knows that I am smack in the midst of getting ready for a big wholesale show and negotiating a book contract. It isn't as if I don't already have enough to do! But I can hold it back no longer.
So I stood there at the boulder store this morning looking at the big garden boulders and the pallets of river rock with lust in my heart (and I can just hear my father say to my mother as he reads this, "She is going to pay money for rocks?!?" He is Scottish and lives in Montana, need I say more?). I almost bought three of the big moss-covered beauties right there, but a boulder, like a pond, must be planned. Like how I slipped that "P" word in there oh so casually? Yep. I am planning my next pond and as God is my witness, it is going in this spring.
Last Sunday we took a family day and went to the Chattahoochee Nature Center for a winter walk in the woods. As we were leaving, I noticed for the first time the pond they have at the head of the parking lot. It is above and below ground, and the above part is river cobbles and small boulders cemented together with a flat stone seating ledge at the top. It clicked as exactly the sort of design I have been searching for for our backyard.
I have held off till now on the whole pond in Atlanta thing because I have just not been reconciled enough to living here that I felt like putting the energy into designing another one. Although if I really want to move, putting in a pond is the way to guarantee it. As anyone in the family will tell you, putting in a pond is the kiss of death for me on a house. Every single blessed time I put in a pond we move within a year. There was the first gorgeous pond in Aurora Illinois that we dug ourselves (with a little help from the day labor) and lovingly placed every river rock and cobble in the bottom. Dave wheelbarrowed the tons (literally) of rock from the front of the house where the dump truck had left them to the back, and I picked up and placed every single rock by hand. That pond was 17 feet long, 6 feet wide and 3-1/2 feet deep. It was a beauty with a skimmer box at one end and a waterfall at the other. Fish and frogs frolicked in the plants.
Then there was the square, formal, above-ground pond that I had put in in the middle of the back stone patio in Austin. It, too, had loads of frogs, fish and plants as we waved it bye-bye.
When we moved here three years ago the backyard was a sea of red clay mud with straw in it. The builder had supposedly planted grass, but it never came up. So I designed the backyard from the ground up the summer before last, and I left a space for a good-sized pond. I planned to put it in last summer, but between shows and life, I just didn't have the time. I left it and really didn't dream that this would be the year it would happen. But it will. I can feel it. The design is finally ready in my head, the boulder store has all the rocks I will need, and the income tax refund is coming.
And while I am at it, I am going to get a couple of granite boulders for the front and back yards. The boulder store will deliver and place them (no, a little to the left, no, no, back to the right... no, I think we should turn it and put it over there by the bench...) for a nominal fee, and I think you just cannot have too many boulders in a garden.