Last year we installed what I laughingly call ‘The Beach’ in a small area just outside the patio (less lawn area to mow, hurray). It is a patch of ground covered with round Caledonian pebbles, which are lovely pastel colours when dry and quite jewel-like when wet. The patio extends out into it as a path with a curve and a bit of height, so that it has the feel of a jetty. It is lovely to sit on the path, dangle your legs over the edge, soak up the sun and pick through the pebbles (I’ve always loved stones).
There’s a bench with its back to the copper beech hedge around the patio and the edge of the pebble area is marked with olive trees in terracotta pots. The borders at the back are in major development throes. They are in continuous shade (being north of next door’s house and fence) and the soil is still very heavy clay. Apart from grasses, euphorbia and crocosmia everything else has/is being devoured by slugs and snails. I’ve just planted some new things and I’ll see how it goes. Currently we are experiencing torrential rain and I can see the ‘S’ things sliding out into the open, so I don’t hold out much hope.
Our intention was always to put a water feature in the slight dip in the area and we’ve deliberated for the last year on what exactly to install. In the end it seemed right to put another extra large pebble (drilled) there for the fountain: like a mill-stone but more in keeping with the stony beach theme.
We swept back the pebbles and cut the membrane to install a reservoir so that the water will be recycled. Then it was back to digging clay. See what I mean!
Once the reservoir was in, levelled and the soil back-filled around it, the landscaping element was much more fun to do. We went looking for a few more large pebbles so that it didn’t look so isolated. Then we switched on the pump and hey pesto …. a water feature.
I am not the only one who likes pebbles by the looks of it!
Anyhow, within a few weeks we noticed that the drilled stone was routinely marked with bird droppings, so we kept an eye out to see what was using the rock as a perch. We discovered that most of the larger birds around the place love to drink from the fountain. The magpies enjoy hopping from rock to rock to the water. The dratted wood pigeons love to bask in the sun on the path and then cool down in the little stream.
And best of all, I’ve noticed that the woodpecker calls are a lot closer these days and the reason is that they also stop to drink at our new fountain too. Here is the beautiful green woodpecker (Picus viridis) cautiously flashing his red crown as he drinks:
I love your pebbly area and the stone water feature. I love stones too, I always bring a large pebble back from my holidays. I just can’ t resist them. The birds have been appreciating a bit of water during the drought of the last few weeks. I bet yours are very grateful.
Haha, sounds familar. My parents and now my husband are always suspicious of heavy bags when we come back from holiday!
What a delightful post. ‘The Beach’ looks like a wonderful contemplative spot, well considered landscaping can be just as relaxing as a cool mown lawn. And, a lot less work to maintain!
Yes, I am all for less lawn, but I guess the rest of the family and dog use it. I’ve managed to instigate a meadow area, so that bit is low maintainance too.
A water feature is a huge plus in the garden. I think it may be more helpful to the birds than bird feeders – water is often harder to find than food. Your story about the pebbles reminds me of our kids when they were small. We used to take them to the zoo and they would hunker down an play with the gravel on the gravel path.
Yeap, that’s me, especially if there are metal or mineral crystals in the stones. I agree about the water vs feeders and the bees (and wasps) appreciate the supply too.
It’s lovely to have water in the garden isn’t it? You are so lucky to have green woodpeckers… I’ve never even SEEN one never mind had them in the garden.
Water adds a whole other dimension to the garden, with its light reflecting properties, movement and sounds (plus the obvious benefits to wildlife). We are fortunate to have both green and greater-spotted woodpeckers visit us, however we are surrounded to a large extent by fields. The woodpecker are quite shy. We don’t always see them, but they are noisy birds and we hear them most days. Good luck spotting one!
I like your idea, especially the lawn-reduction part of it. I plan to use as much gravel and stones in the next garden as my budget will allow, and reduce the lawn component to only the bare minimum atop the septic area (in case of future necessary dig-ups!). Will you be able to use your water feature year-round?
Not that one unfortunately. We will most likely roll the stone, remove the pump and water and fill temporarily with sand or some such media for winter. I always keep the bird baths going and the pond is not usually frozen over for too long, unless it gets really extreme.