It’s Day 3 in Nina Eadie’s garden in Montana. Today we’re checking out her dry stream bed. She says, “When we bought this property, there was a natural depression roughly where the dry streambed is now, and during the 4 months between buying the property and moving in, Bud and I envisioned turning it into a dry streambed.
“When we got here, though, we discovered that my very helpful brother-in-law, who loves order, had filled it in when he dragged the property to get rid of the weeds! So, we had a friend with a tractor recontour it for us, and I started filling it in with rocks from another piece of property we own nearby. I soon realized that this was going to take a REALLY long time, so we got a trailer-load of boulders from a man we knew on the west side who was clearing his property, and our friend with the tractor set them for us. Once the boulders were set, we had a truckload of 2″ – 6” rock brought in and our friend filled in around the boulders with those (it’s really nice to have a friend with a tractor!).
“It is functional, but we don’t see it often because we don’t get that much snow here in the Bitterroot Valley. But our property is pretty much at the bottom of the downhill slope of the loop our house is on, so when the snow does melt it runs down the street along the edge of our property to a drain at the very bottom that goes under the street and runs down into our field below. I’ve gradually recontoured the land around the end of the driveway to redirect the flow into the streambed, and it does flow down the streambed and at the bottom it funnels it right into the drain.
“I have to confess that I didn’t really have a planting plan for the edges of the streambed, and it’s been a lot of trial and error, especially since I went from a Sunset zone 24 garden in California to a USDA zone 4 garden in Montana! It has been a challenge.
“First of all, I wanted it to look sort of realistic. But real streamside plants get a lot of water, and we’re really dry here. So, I had to find plants that would look sort of wild and natural but that would get by without a lot of extra water. I also wanted it to be pretty densely planted along the path between the stream and the fence, but I didn’t want to hide the streambed. So, I’ve tried to plant in pockets down into the streambed with plants that don’t get so tall that they will hide the streambed. It’s still in the process of evolving, and it’ll be quite a few more years I’m sure before it’s the way we envisioned it.
“If I had it to do over again, I would have left more room for the path between the fence and the stream, because it’s hard to create a good flow on the fence side and still leave enough room for the lawn tractor, which I use to haul things up and down the path and also for the golf cart, which I use to take Mom up and down the path when things are blooming.
“The other thing I would NEVER, EVER do again is use weedcloth under the mulch. As a gardener I should have known better. Plants die or get too big or don’t get along with their neighbor and inevitably you have to move them, and inevitably the spot you want to relocate them to has weedcloth! It’s such a nuisance, and I still have weeds! Never again!”
Gorgeous, Nina, just gorgeous, and I love the action shots of the water flowing down the streambed! Thanks so much for sharing. ***Tomorrow we’ll visit the garden Nina left behind to move to Montana!***
It’s almost SPRING, people! I know you’re going through your photos from last year, planning what you’ll do differently this year. Send some of those photos in to me! [email protected]
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