Off The Grid

Living off the Grid on a west coast island

rockery if you will


I loved my garden in L and it broke my heart to leave it… But I did leave it, and to date have not been able to walk past it. I still cannot bear to hear stories about the changes which have been made by the new owners. But life is about change and I recognise that my vision for the garden is different from theirs.

Gardening here on the island presents different challenges than gardening on a delta. In addition to drought, deer and limited soil there are rocks and cliffs. Big rocks and little rocks on big cliffs and small. I have chosen not to consider the plentiful rocks as a nuisance. Instead, I have embraced my first rockery.DSCN9553

Living at the bottom of a cliff provides additional challenges to bringing a garden to the land side of the house. In addition now,  to drought, hungry deer and limited soil I have to incorporate my garden with the huge rock face before me.

As mentioned before it is our intention to live here forever! I will not be forced to leave this island because of physical limitations. The problem with this plan is that we do live at the bottom of a cliff.  When my 94-year-old mother came to see our new house three years ago, my son brought her down the hill in a wheelbarrow. I suspect that when the time comes neither of my sons will be willing or available to transport me up and down the hill in a similar manner.

At 9:30 last Tuesday night JN called to say that if indeed we were serious, the excavator was available and he could be here in the morning.. And so it began, ten days of hard labour. Four with the excavator and all with much hard work from the W’s, B&S and my newly retired sister-in-law.

JN built every road and driveway on the island and is an artist when at the wheel of the excavator. He can pick ½ ton rocks up and place them where they can serve a better purpose. What was once a precarious path next to a cliff is now bordered by a moss-covered rocky wall. What was once a steep windy enchanted path down the cliff is now a wide steep driveway providing wheelchair access to the front door.

I have accepted the challenge to make it pretty. I only wish I could avoid telling the previous owners about the changes at all. But, I am hoping they trust our decision as one made out of a determination to stay forever. Trusting also, that I can make it beautiful if given time.

My dear friend EU and her husband donated two flowering cherry trees to the top of the drive. I have begun to plant rosemary, mint and lavender along the edges.  I made little bulb nests between the rocks and planted 250 daffodil bulbs between the crevasses in the rock wall. Tomorrow my sister-in-law, CH and I are going tree shopping. I am hoping to add a white Hawthorne, White Dogwood and Magnolia Grandiflora to the show along with more Rosemary and Lavender. We have spread sheep pasture grass seed on the whole hill. Right now it is just a giant ugly mud bath.

For the most part our physical strength is excellent. We will only use it as a driveway on propane hauling days, maybe four times a year.. The rest of the time and hopefully for many years it will be just as I like to think about it today, my new garden.

A rockery if you will

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Author: Off Grid Islanders

We are a retired couple living on an off grid island on the West Coast

4 thoughts on “rockery if you will

  1. We are, too. And making a nice garden for food and flowers is at the top of our list of priorities – only because we have had 11 years to get so many other items off the list ahead of that. Now, it is the greenhouse. Gotta make one. Then…well, the list goes on but the garden also goes in every year and we are thankful for it. Rocks and all.

    • Our to do list didn’t even have the driveway on it the opportunity presented itself….. The greenhouse is going to have to wait. But me and the todo list Are nothing but flexible. Have all the time in the world….:)

  2. Wow. What an undertaking! We know you will make it all beautiful, as only you can. S&B

Leave a Reply