Gardens Ablaze

A Gardening Blether
Monthly Column by Patrick Vickery who is on hiatus until September. 
This Blether written by Blaze of Gardens Ablaze.
August, 2002


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A Blaze Blether

While watching the Victory Garden series on Public Television a few years back, I happened to see an episode in which they had a tour of one of the most spectacular private gardens I have ever seen.  The entire garden was done by a man at least 60 years old and his wife, and featured incredible fern-rimmed waterfalls, peaceful ponds, meandering streams, winding pathways, gorgeous plants and flowers, and incredible statuary and ornamentation.  This fellow had made a deal with some elderly women who owned an adjoining property rich in rock, and had devised an ingenious system for moving the rocks - some of which must have weighed tons -  to their desired places in his landscape.  When asked what advice he would give to someone wanting to create a similar landscape, his reply was simple - "You've got to want to do it." 


And thus, a lesson in life.  Whatever it is you hope to accomplish, you've got to want to do it!


I have a friend who lives halfway up the side of a mountain whose yard consists of - well - the side of a mountain........He goes out almost every day in the unbearably humid southern summer heat and works on the side of that mountain.  So far, he has tamed at least an acre of mountainside, has dug up enough rock to build a small house, has carved roadways through dense underbrush for his equipment, has prepared the soil and planted shade-tolerant grass throughout the entire area, is seriously considering a large-scale waterfall and stream, and is presently gathering materials to make a ski-lift type chair that will carry him across a large ravine so he can start working on the other side.  On flat land this would discourage a lesser person, but he is working on a steep mountainside......and he's 60 years old!  You've got to want to do it!


I understand this mindset completely, because I am of the same fold.  5 years ago I decided I had to have an ornamental pond with waterfalls in my back yard.  Not just a little hole in the ground mind you - a pond that would reflect the sky, dual waterfalls that I could hear from inside the house........Never mind that I was a single mom with no money or resources.  Heck, I figured the digging wouldn't cost much and it would give me something constructive to do.  I dug every day for three months solid.......


Family conversations revolved around digging.....


"Hey, Mom, stop digging, we're hungry." 


Or "Where's Mom?"

"Look outside, she's probably digging." 


After the digging was done, there was the little problem of stone for the waterfalls.  I scoured the countryside until I found a construction site where they had dynamited a mountainside largely consisting of slate.  Nice, flat rocks and lots of them - perfect for my purposes.  I drove a compact car at the time and probably went out to that site 300 times - coming in level, and coming out with the car standing on end with as much rock as would fit in that trunk. 


Conversations at home took a different turn......


Look out!   Hide!  Here comes Mom!  She is going to try to get us to go help get rocks!


Or "Where's Mom."

"Probably gone to get stupid rocks."


Meanwhile, I had scraped up enough money for a pond liner and pumps, and a friend donated some wonderful Japanese Koi to the cause, but there was still something missing.  A little rock patio to put the table and chairs on........and I knew just where to get the rock.......simply pull up the 60 foot stone walkway out front that needed repairs anyway and transplant it out back. 


Luckily for me, by this time the kids were seeing that there might be some merit in all this, and they were willing to help on a limited basis.


Conversations went something like......


"Mom, that rock must weigh 400 pounds." 

"Awww, c'mon, we can do it."

"Mom, that was my toe!"

"Let's put some ice on it and we can start again first thing tomorrow....."


Anyhow, about a year after sinking that shovel into the earth for the first time, we all stood and gazed upon a beautiful pond that reflects the sky, has dual waterfalls, colorful koi, and a decent-sized stone patio for the table and chairs.  Five years later it is still my source of peace and tranquility...........and my now teenage kids appreciate for its value as an awesome party site..........






A Tomato Blether - January, 2002

A Tree Blether - February, 2002

A Hare Blether - March, 2002

A Surreal Blether - April, 2002

A Slug Blether - May, 2002

A Goat Blether - June, 2002

A Half-Man, Half-Garden Blether - July, 2002

An Inanimate Object Blether - September, 2002

A Notable Quotable Blether - October, 2002

A Plant Blether - November, 2002

A Compost Blether - December, 2002

A Copper Beech Blether (or a chainsaw pruning!) - January, 2003

A Heron Blether - February, 2003

A Bergenia Blether - March, 2003

A Rose Blether - April, 2003

A Critter Blether - August, 2003

Blether Home

Patrick Vickery is a garden writer who lives in the Scottish Highlands.  He runs a small perennial plant nursery and has one book published to date: 'In Pursuit Of Perennial Profit - The Pot Of Gold At The Bottom Of The Garden' (Capall Bann Publishers. ISBN: 186163 1480), a 'How To' book about the propagation of hardy perennial plants in an environmentally friendly way, and how to make your garden productive in a variety of ways for both expert and gardening enthusiasts alike - at minimum cost and in an innovative and exciting way.  And - of course - how to sell the plants you grow (should you wish to) to raise money (not a fortune) for yourself or a particular charity or cause. 


Patrick is married with three children, lives in a two acre wood in a wonderful part of the world, uses a raised bed system of propagation and has two dogs, a cat and two goats. His second book - 'Gardening Tales - Blethers and Grunts' - a collection of anecdotal tales concentrating on the more humorous side of gardening (particularly the things that go wrong!) has recently been completed.


Patrick's book can be bought from an absolutely fascinating website full of gardening, herbal, mystical, and magical books that one would never find anywhere else.  The address is

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