Dry Garden - the Finale

Back in July, I mentioned my plans for a dry garden here.

The soon to be converted piece of lawn grows in five inches or so of topsoil that sits over gravel and builders spoil. Not exactly fertile territory for growing much. The obvious solution was to raise the bed and hold it together with the local stone. Rather than spend weeks recovering pieces from fields and around as I did when making the car park steps, an altogether simpler solution was to buy some and as luck would have it, Monsieur Roy, who owns the lawn mower shop close by was selling recovered stone. So, two Saturdays ago I became the proud owner of a cubic metre, not bad for seventy euros and decent stuff it is.

Satisfying putting a dry stone wall together. I'm using the term 'dry stone' loosely, but it ain't a bad attempt and one things for sure, when you see skilled trades people creating such structures deftly, each piece fitting perfectly together, then you realise that they're exactly that, skilled trades people.

After placing the stones, it was just a simple case of digging over the old lawn before importing four cubic metres of top soil. I say just a simple case, that's a laugh, my back still hasn't recovered! I still have a further two cubes of topsoil to shift as the enterprise I bought it from would only sell a minimum of six.

The next stage was my favourite bit, laying out the plants. Everything I purchased came from the truly wonderful Pépinière du Lac des Joncs owned and tended by the amiable Monsieur Willy de Wilde who I have mentioned before here.

I did my level best to tread carefully so as not to compact the soil, nimbly balancing on old laminate flooring planks as I set out over a hundred plants as sympathetically as I could.

The plant list is as follows;


Panicum virgatum 'Squaw'

Pennisetum orientale 'Tall tails'

Pennisetum orientale 'Karley Rose'

Calamagrostis acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'

Stipa calamagrostis

Schizachyrium scoparium

Flowers/sub shrubs

Achillea 'Sammertriese'

'Hella glashof'

Agastache mexicana
'Painted Lady'

Aster cordyfolius 'Little carlow'

Coreopsis 'Limerock ruby'

Gaura lindheimeri
'Siskiyou pink'

Lavandula x intermedia 'Edelweiss'

Blue Lavender (Iv'e forgotten which)

'Six hills giant'

Nepeta 'Transcaucasia'

'Autumn Joy'

Sedum 'Matrona'

Thymus serpyllum

Veronica trifurcata

Stipa calamagrostis growing along the pergola. I'll simply chop pieces out with a spade and add this to the new garden. It does spread quite easily so it'll need managing.

So there it is finished. I'll mulch it over in the coming weeks and then all I need is for a couple of years to pass until it becomes fully established and not a scrap of soil is visible, ah patience, but you know how it is.


  1. I love what you have done. I did a small dry stone garden bed a few years ago. Sadly some of my stones have moved and next year I need to fix them. Otherwise I love making the bed.


  2. Just incredible! It looks wonderful already, so I can't wait to see how it flushes out!

  3. hi rob,

    my back feels your pain! it looks great. btw i have a strange passion for cut granite walls. so any stone walls make me crazy.


  4. That wall looks great! I would be thrilled to have some stone like that for a few beds. The plantings you selected are very good too!

  5. This is going to look great next year, it is already looking pretty good to me. I can just imagine how your back must feel:-( Diane

  6. Looks great! I love the stone! Carla

  7. Looks terrific! You'll need the extra soil- what's in the bed will settle down, by as much as half high, especially if you didn't tamp it as you built it. So the soil will come in handy.

  8. Such hard work Rob, but what a terrific result.

  9. Looks wonderful - very nice plant list.

    Nice shoes :-)

  10. Hi Rob,
    What a very effective, and quick way to transform the 'dodgy' lawn area that you had. Nice one!

  11. I so love the warm color of that stone. Your new dry bed looks wonderful.

  12. Totally impressed, Rob. Is there nothing that you can't do? I thought you were resting ... Happy Autumn :)

  13. You make this look so easy Rob. Lovely stone and looks as if done by a pro. I love the colors. The garden will be beautiful... great choices for a dry bed. You are so clever and talented!! Take good care of your back. ;>)

  14. Great job, I'll look forward to seeing it as it matures. I like the color of the stone. It is beautiful.

  15. That stone's a beautiful color. Wish we had "sun" stone here.

  16. Rob it looks very nice and the rock work is fabulous. I can't believe the projects you take on. Seems you are superman.

  17. Dear Rob, It already looks amazingly lush, just planted! Your choices are perfect, you just can't go wrong with grasses as the backbone. Such a nice sunny spot! That stone is so beautiful, you did a wonderful job. I know the labor it takes, and the trial and error of placement to work with stone. Your efforts are superb! :-)

  18. Et voila. You make it look so easy. It will be stunning I'm sure.

    There's nothing quite like a well built dry stone wall. Yours easily earns that description.

  19. First, a few comments from Richard --- he says "why is he wearing good shoes?" and "ask Rob to bring us some of that stone." :-)

    Now, for my comments -- your results look wonderful. The wide curved bed makes a substantial statement. Using xeric plants is definitely a great idea in the times of global warming. That was a lot of work, but I'm sure, when not a bit of soil is showing, you'll be thrilled with the design and the low maintenance.

  20. Fabulous - I hope you feel justly rewarded for your hard work! Great choice of plants and I am so envious of that stone.

  21. Just a quick note regarding my shoes.
    They are a solid old pair which I wear for all sorts including strimming etc.

    It's just as well, while putting the wall together, I managed to unbalance the wheel barrow and a rock fell on my foot. As I tried to jump away, I actually managed to fall over the wall!!! no harm done except I had to re-make the section
    that I collapsed.

    The other option in terms of stout footwear is a pair of steel toe capped wellies. That said, sporting wellies and a pair of shorts is something I generally like to save for weekends!!!

  22. Wow Rob, what a transformation - I love it! Great plant combos too. It's going to work so much better than the lawn just there.

    Now that you've done that can you just pop up here and rebuild our front wall please? It's only 6ft high, 3 ft wide and 30 ft long so it shouldn't take you long!!!

    Sit down with a nice glass of red and rest that back :)

  23. What a big and beautiful project! My back is killing me after digging up some 'Six Hills Giant' catmint to divide it this week. Man, those roots are woody and tough.
    The stone is wonderful, and looks right at home with the rest of your landscape. How perfect.

  24. This is going to be lovely. I so enjoy your beautiful blog..Gardening in Michigan USA is troublesome ,but satisfying too

  25. WOW! That's a piece of hard work you've done there! I believe it'll look great next season / gittan

  26. Love this project, Rob.
    Most impressive!

  27. It looks lovely! I love the plant palette you chose; it includes many of my favorites.

    You're right about stonework being an art. One of the contractors I work with takes it very seriously and you can definitely tell.

  28. Job well done Rob! I hope your back is no longer aching - the pain will be worthwhile when this area of the garden all knits together. It should look stunning.

  29. Love it! It does take a lot of time, and definitely back breaking work. You did a really nice job with all of it.


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