One Step Further

We have been working hard to build the stone “steps” in the shade garden and they are finally done. This stone pathway takes us up the hill from the sandpit and around a small shade garden. Polytrichum (haircap) and Hypnum (fern) moss cover the ground between steps, poking their little heads up, asking to be touched. The rocks and boulders that create this garden have been slowly rolled down the hill by Grasso Tech students and their teacher, Larry Fritch, under the direction and tutelage of Steve Colgan, Master Gardener and Moss Expert.

It took several days to tackle this project. The boulders are quite large and it was no easy task to get them into place. Steve brought long metal rails and long pry bars to dislodge the boulders from the massive (ten ton) pile and roll them down the hill. Many of the boulders took 2-3 people to move. Then we had to dig out the space under the boulders to “set” them. We used heavy plastic between the steps to make maintenance easy and keep weeds out. Felt came next to give the moss something to attach itself to and to hold moisture. Steve taught us that, since moss doesn’t have roots, it doesn’t need soil like most plants. All the nutrition and water are obtained above ground.

Without Steve and Grasso Tech, we wouldn’t have been able to install this feature. Steve applied for grants from local garden clubs to help fund the project. We were awarded funds from the North Stonington Garden Club, which paid for the bulk of the project. The Connecticut Master Gardener Association gave us additional funds, and the Ledyard Garden Club paid speaking fees to Steve for his talks on moss during one of their meetings. Not only was the talk awesome but Steve donated the proceeds. Many thanks to these folks for the support. It is so appreciated!

We also planted blueberry bushes near a cedar fence that we are currently building with the help of Paul Hanlon from UConn’s Office of Veterans Affairs and Military Programs. The cedar trees used for fencing were obtained from the UConn extension office in Norwich. In the spring, we will plant shade plants and hopefully have a few fairy gardens, topiaries, and hypertufa pots to tuck into the small garden beds we have created next to the “steps”.

Grasso Tech students also planted about a hundred allium and daffodil bulbs in the pollinator garden and Petie and Rich, from Perennial Harmony, planted a couple of shade trees near the pollinator garden and amphitheater. My son and his friend Seabass have also been a tremendous help doing some of the cleanup and heavy lifting. They are my superstars when it comes to strength and I’m so grateful to them as well for their willingness to volunteer.

Again, thank you to everyone who helped in this latest endeavor and for helping us create something really special for our community!

The massive bolder pile!BouldersBoulders situated before moss plantingThe stone walkway from sidewalk to sandpitAnother view of the rocks and mossStone walkway with sandpit on rightStone walkway with moss plantingHypnum moss detailStone walkway, with moss plantings, rises from the sand pit, with cedar fence and blueberry bushes in the background