This might be the very first post in the history of Six on Saturday that lacks any plant material! There are certainly plenty of flowers blooming out there, but that was not what I was working with this week. The first two pictures were at a site where I was working earlier in the week. The other four pictures were at a larger landscape that is in the process of being renovated. Until this week, I had not seen much of the site, but heard about it daily. The work is behind schedule, so a whole bunch of us went to the site to help. Although we were very grateful for the help, and everyone was genuinely pleased to be of service, I can not help feeling guilty about my esteemed colleagues engaged in the unpleasantries of such dusty and dirty work, especially when they have so much of their own work to tend to.

1. The soil at the first job site is of exceptional quality, but is only about a foot deep! This now broken mudstone is what lurks below, but it is not broken down under. It is only broken in the picture because it needed to be pried up so that larger plants could go into the ground. It took all morning just to install a few #5 plants. The smaller #1 plants were planted much more easily on top of the mudstone.P806162. This sometimes happens when prying up mudstone.P80616+3. At the second and much larger landscape, the irrigation system and lighting needed to be installed before the rest of the landscape. There is now irrigation pipe and electrical conduit everywhere! It took some serious digging. Because so much excavation had already been done at the site for the installation of big wide walkways, much of the soil was being moved a second time. The soil is so loose and sandy that much of it needed to be dug a few more times from the ditches as the irrigation system was installed.P80616++4. A few big boulders were installed on the site. To avoid driving the heavy machinery on the new concrete, the boulders were installed early in the renovation process, before the new concrete was installed. Consequently, they were buried by the soil that came from all the ditches for the irrigation and lighting systems. They reappeared as the ditches were filled. I still do not understand the appeal of stone and boulders in landscapes. The mudstone that was encountered earlier in the week was not much fun.P80616+++5. Plant material has not yet been installed, so the landscape features only a few dogwood trees that were already there, and these few boulders scattered about in the dusty soil. It really is dusty! I cannot figure out why the dogwoods are so happy there. I can not figure out why the boulders are so happy either, . . . or if they are happy . . . or if they really care at all. I just do not know.P80616++++6. One of our soil science professors at school was emphatic about soil being ‘soil’. We were not allowed to refer to soil as ‘dirt’. Well, this soil happens to be better than it looks, and it is good enough for dogwoods, but it really is very dirty soil.P80616+++++This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

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36 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: ROCK ON!

    1. Fortunately, it was just a few holes that I dug myself. If there had been too many holes, someone else would have taken care of it with the backhoe. It was not as bad as it looked. I mean, it was sort of funny; the last thing I expected to find under such good soil, with other plants that are so happy nearby.

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    1. It can be weird like that here. the two different sites were only about a mile apart. The soil is good in both locations, but SO opposite. The flora is also variable, with dense redwoods down bellow and tall ponderosa pines up above. With all the tectonic activity here, we never know where our soil came from. Over the past few millions of years, much of it was delivered from as far away as Costa Rica. All these different soil types are all jumbled up here.

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  1. That is a whole different category of gardening. Very envious of the irrigation system as I plod up and down with watering cans and a v. simple micro system. I am wondering what those sites will look like when they are finished. Another story to tell sometime.

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    1. These are certainly no ‘home garden’ landscapes. The landscape in the second picture is being installed outside of a lodge building at a conference center. I would not use such irrigation in my home garden, where I regularly dig into the soil and move things around from year to year. We need to be more efficient in these landscapes because we do not want our maintenance to interfere with the serenity of the site. I mean, we want our guests to see appealing landscapes or forests outside of their lodgings, but not see us working in them.

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    1. The landscape in the first two pictures already looks quite nice, and will be getting some cone flowers in barrels soon. The larger landscape in the second picture will not be so colorful. We want simple material rather than bare soil or weeds, but we do not want to interfere with the natural setting or view of the surrounding forest.

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  2. no such thing as dirty soil! Are the rocks happy? Acc to Japanese gardening, they are happy if the gardener places them where and as they want to be. Hope you listened to them!

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    1. Okay, so it is not dirty soil. Perhaps it is soiled dirt; although I am not allowed to say so. I was not there when the stones were installed. They still need to be poked and prodded into place (slightly) and set lower into grade so that they look as if they have been there a while. We do not bother burying them much, although there are a few nearby that look like natural outcroppings. We did not bury them much either. They just happened to settle in that way.

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  3. This made my morning, Tony. I spent much of yesterday afternoon pulling my drip irrigation system up so I could examine it. It’s been down several years and has gotten covered with leaf material and some soil. I need to see if there are holes in the tubing before I turn it on for the season. Still more work to do this morning, but I had shade for most of the work and no boulders. I retract any cursing I did.

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    1. It seems to me that so many of the automated irrigation systems that are designed to use less water and time are more work than the old inefficient systems. In my own garden, I use a hose.

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      1. Fixing it took all morning. I don’t have drip irrigation everywhere so there is still a fair amound of pulling the hose around. When I win the lottery I will have hose outlets installed in at least four other places around my garden.

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  4. That soil looks very free-draining Tony! So it has some advantages. I used to hand-dig strainer post holes into this kinda stuff, one that I’d just done, 5 days later there was a fire and the volunteer force could be bothered finding a key and just sheared the post off with a Cat D8.

    Yes the lower boulders, they look happy, the upper lot look a bit out-of-sorts tho’.

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    1. Oh, the lower boulders are just stones in the back of the pick up. They will get dumped somewhere, perhaps set to disperse water from downspouts. The boulders in the upper landscape still need to be weaseled into the ground a bit. We dig around the edges so that they can settle in a bit. We poke and prod them to face the right direction; not much, but just a few inches and only if necessary.

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    1. You know, this site (of the first two pictures) is in front of a historic depot, so I sometimes thought that I was digging into stone that was put there as pavement. The more I dug, the more I could see that it had never been disturbed. I think that if I had something like that at home, I would take the soil off and use the stone as pavement. It was quite flat.
      My paternal grandfather invested in a parcel in Malibu Canyon that could not be build on because of huge serpentinite outcropping. It seemed like a bad investment, until someone wanted to use the serpentinite as the floor of their home! The outcropping was sliced off, and the home was build on top of it. The entire home has exquisite serpentinite (California marble) floors. Such construction would not be allowed nowadays.

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  5. I heard a fascinating presentation recently about soil and the difference between soil (alive) and dirt (dead). As a direct result, my few potted plants, which hadn’t been repotted in years, got their own new soil, and it’s obvious they’re much happier.

    As for the digging and the rocks, that’s a side of landscaping many of us rarely see and even more rarely consider. Thanks for an interesting post.

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    1. To us, ‘dirt’ was not even related to soil. It was more like filth or grime. It ‘could’ be related to soil, but could be just about anything. We studied all soil as soil, even if it was nearly inert. The soil at some of the homes I am considering purchasing is quite close to biologically inert because of the salinity. ICK! That is some seriously dirt!

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    1. Thank you. It (the larger landscape) is not my project, but part of a renovation. The landscape was already in bad condition, and was to get ruined even more by the renovation of the adjacent building, so was instead outfitted with a new landscape. We try to keep it minimal because the surrounding forest is what most people like to see. Too much landscape makes it look cheap.

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