Love It Like a Rock

“My mama loves me, she loves me,
she get down on her knees and hug me.
She loves me like a rock . . .”
Paul Simon

I have plenty of rocks in my garden. Whenever I plant, I usually unearth a good-size stone. (Ever wonder where they all come from?) I love it when I find a really large one because once I pry it out, basically there is my planting hole right there, no need to dig any further! I try to place them in little groups throughout the garden, to highlight plants or fill in gaps. I think they tie the garden in nicely to its setting; it is elevated off the sidewalk and held up by a retaining wall made of the same type of stones. (I imagine they were harvested when the house was built.)

I have one really special rock that did not come from my planting excavations. It is a bluish-colored, really smooth oval stone that has always reminded me of a shark. This stone came from my grandparents’ yard. For as long as I can remember it sat next to their side door, in a little patch of vinca. We always went in and out through that door when we visited them every weekend, and I always admired that rock. After they died and the house was being sold, all the family had a chance to go through and choose items that they wanted to keep. My prize finding was this stone. At first I put it in my garden at my parents’ house, but once John and I moved out of our apartment into our own home with a yard and I got the garden well under way, I moved it here.

So far I’ve just plunked right in the middle of the garden while I mull over where to place it “for real,” or whether to design a little section around it. In the photo above it’s just hanging out with Coreopsis alpina ‘Alba’.

It could go here (below), in my shade garden, with the hostas, heuchera and lady’s mantle right near our door. I like that idea because it was near my grandmother’s door to begin with. Also it would be the only rock in that area so it would really be the star:


The downside to the above is that it’s far off the street. My sunny main garden is right next to the sidewalk, so part of me wants to put the rock there where it will be more “center stage.” I just bought some ‘Elijah Blue’ fescue and I already have a bunch of hens and chicks—I’m now thinking of making a faux water feature in this area (below), with it as a major element, adding some low sedums as well and maybe even a gravel mulch. I was really inspired by Debra Lee Baldwin’s post on “The Suggestion of Water.”

The nice thing about a rock is it can take sun or shade!

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14 thoughts on “Love It Like a Rock

  1. I live on a shale hill near a river and every plant goes in the ground via a crow bar. But next to each group of plants is a stacked stone cairn marking how much had to come out of the ground to leave room for the plants. It allows the plants to say I can grow here and you “rock” you can stay.

  2. I’m so glad there are other rock admirerers (is that a real word?) besides me. I have this rock that has been sitting right outside my back door for years, for no good reason I could think of, I just liked it. Now I feel like it’s normal. Thanks for sharing.

  3. What a fun story. My mother’s folks lived in a modest home on top of a hill in a small town in Michigan. The front yard had a large stone which sat alone and was a ‘kid magnet.’ It was about 3×4 feet and we
    loved to sit and lie on it. The sun warmed it, and I can still remember how good that heated rock felt! When my grandmother died my grandfather sold the house. The new owners chose to pry that rock out of the soil and get rid of it. We were angry and sad to see that it was gone. They also tore off a good share of the cobblestone porch which I thought was an absolute crime! I’ve run across some good books at our library about gardening with stones.
    You sound like a fun person to garden with!
    Jan Dennett

    • Hi Jan, I do try to have fun in the garden! Wow, your story reminded me of a really large stone friends of mine had in their yard growing up! Such fun to climb it, hide behind it, tell secrets on it…I hope it is still there and being enjoyed.

  4. Love this story. I don’t have any heirloom rocks but I do collect them whenever I travel. I try to pick up a few wherever I go and add them to my succulent garden. On a side note, I started my succulent garden because I remembered the Hens and Chicks that my grandmother had in her side yard.

  5. Oh, how we love our garden stones! They solidify our connection to the earth in such a tangible way. I loved reading your article on your special one. I have a friend who collects heart-shaped stones and it is a sweet thing to come upon all the love in her garden. Now I can’t help but see heart shapes at every beach and river that I visit!
    In New England we are fortunate to have stone walls (Robert Thorson, a geologist at UConn/Storrs wrote an excellent book, Stone by Stone, which I recommend for its history, natural and human, his love of them really shines through). I attended one of his lectures once and he stresses that we call them ‘stones’ not ‘rocks’, because rock is the big part(think bedrock)and stones are the broken off and weathered parts. Science is technical, as it should be, but I slip up occasionally and still fall in love with ‘pet rocks’!
    thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Elizabeth — thanks for the tip on “rocks” vs. “stones”! I’m going to look for Thorson’s book. A couple others I’ve flipped through: The Granite Kiss by Kevin Gardner and one called Good Fences, which has lots of beautiful photos.

      Now I’ll be on the lookout for heart-shaped stones too!

  6. M-I love your rock and wish you could see the latest stone in my collection also. We inherited cannon ball rocks from the previous owners and they have been everywhere in my garden. My stone working son even split some in half when he made a step for me. Now he has carved a rock as a present for Mother’s Day. You would love it! It will definitely go everywhere I go and hope it also becomes an inherited rock one day for his garden……..

  7. Hello, I love the story about the ‘rock’. I to have some favorite rocks. Mine belonged to my dear mother-in-law Katie,,,when she passed away many years ago, I took her rocks out of her greenhouse. I always admired these smooth rocks in gray, tan, & almost black. I have them now in my garden shed. Now I think I will put them amongst my minature
    hosta’s. Thank you for a great story.

    • Hi, Marie! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Another great thing about “heirloom” rocks is you can’t kill them. I also took some plants from my grandparents’ yard but there is always the worry they’ll die. Plus it’s hard to keep moving plants from yard to yard. A rock is easy to transplant any time of year!

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