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The Dry Stream Bed

Creating the dry stream bed


Bill decided to create a dry stream bed as a garden feature.  Our dry stream bed is bordered by the rock gardens on the west side and a dry stone wall and lawn on the east side. In spring it is possible to see the ‘bones’ of this feature. The stream bed isn’t always dry!

Using a seasonal stream bed as a template, Bill laid carpet and then plastic the length of the stream bed. On top of this he placed larger rocks of assorted sizes, gathered from the stone fence lines on our property. The spaces between these hardheads were covered with a layer or two of flat stones. The sides of the stream bed are lined by dry stone walls and much larger boulders.


During construction of the dry stream bed, Bill created planting spaces by cutting through the carpet. He planted a variety of plants including yellow water iris, variegated micanthus grass, knotweed or polygonatum polymorpha, and some Siberian irises.

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On the east bank a small lawn features three concrete and stone koru, a Maori design.  A rock ledge creates a waterfall when the stream is flowing. The sound of the falling water is another pleasing feature of this part of the gardens.


Runoff from the farm flows through the dry stream bed. The amazing strength of the flowing water causes a lot of damage to the lining of the stream bed. Rocks get moved, plastic is torn and sometimes sections of the carpet are rolled up. Usually after the spring runoff repairs have to be made. This 2023 season we are going to make major repairs to the dry stream bed!


The flowing water can be harnessed, too! In the fall leaves gather in the stream bed. With a bit of luck and a stirring about with a rake we manage to persuade a lot of the leaves to move downstream away from the rocks!

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Whether dry or filled with flowing water, the stream bed is a very special feature of Keppel Croft gardens. We always feel that the effort of maintaining it is worthwhile.

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Even in the winter, the stream bed adds a lovely serpentine element to the quiet gardens.

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