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The Garden Ruin

Creating a garden ruin


A ruined barn foundation is something that Bill has always coveted, a sheltered area where microclimates can be put to good use. Our sturdy barn, built well over 100 years ago, is far from a ruin. Over the years it has housed our sheep, a small fold of highland cattle, and now a haflinger horse and various flocks of fowl. In 2013, Bill decided to create his own ruin on the southern edge of our gardens.

The initial course of stones was cemented into place and the partial wall was constructed. In spring of the next year, the slip forms were removed with the help of two WWOOFers from Germany. Once the wall weathered it looked as though it had always been in place.   


A recycled “window” added interest to the wall framing views from either side of the wall. Bill incorporated a cut stone sill that had languished on our rock pile. Check the wall on the south side to see the other pieces of decorative stone that Bill has incorporated.


On the north side of the wall Bill created a garden with four season interest so that it merges visually with the nearby pebble border beds. An old apple tree, pruned as a garden bonsai, frames the ruin.

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As the stone work ages, the ruin settles into the gardens visually. The southern side of the ruin is an attractive background for wedding photos or,  with the addition of some chairs, a sunny alcove in which to spend time with a friend.


In the summer of 2018 Bill extended the ruin so there is now a partial wall running on a north/south axis. A gateway included in this part of the ruin frames the pathway to the picnic spot in the gazebo.


A lucky find in a secondhand store was an attractive pair of black metal birds. Bill thought they looked as though they belonged on the wall so he added them there for interest.


One winter Bill laid a row of whole corn across the coarse field grass by the ruin. Wild turkeys came, ate the corn and scratched up the grass looking for more. The next day Bill put a row of corn a little further into the field. The turkeys came and worked their magic. By winter's end the whole area was scratched and raked! In the spring Bill filled in some of the dips, spread a little extra grass seed and now, with regular mowing, the field is now a lawn.


The ruin and its gardens have become an ever changing feature in the gardens, whether in the exuberance of summer or in the more subtle tones of early winter.

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