The making of a tufa garden

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Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27
The making of a tufa garden

So, tomorrow, we start building the extension to last year's little tufa garden... after our backs rest up from today's efforts, aided hugely by the 2 strong young fellows from the tufa supply company, at unloading the truck! Here is a portion of the raw materials scattered through our yard... a pallet (a ton) of tufa in various sizes, plus 5 massive boulders (several hundred more pounds), and 5 bags of half-inch tufa gravel...

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

Now you have to show the result too!
I have never used tufa, don't think I can get it here in Norway either. While all my neighbours have brought stones and rocks out of their gardens I have brought the same into mine in tons. I use rock, stone, gravel, sand etc in all kind of beds, even Rhododendron plantings.

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Sure, as long as the results aren't too embarrassing, I'll be sure to show them.  As you can tell by the fact that I'm on the computer, I'm still "thinking" about the tufa bed design!  ;D

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

tropicalgirl251...
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-10-08

Hi Lori
looks like you will have a great rock garden with that tufa . where did you get the tufa. I am interested in buying some tufa rocks while visiting calgary during long weekend
krish

Krish

Saskatoon,SK,Canada
Zone 3a
one of the sunniest cities in Canada.
Temperature range +30C to -38C.
average annual precipitation 347.2mm.

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Hi, Krish!  I got the tufa from Rocky Mountain Tufa in Brisco, B.C.  - it's a very good place to deal with and their stone is reasonably priced, particularly if you are buying it in quantity.  Here's a link to their site, if you want to look or inquire, and they advertise in the NARGS Rock Garden Quarterly, as well:
http://www.tufa.bc.ca/
From the info I was sent re. pricing, I see that they actually do mail order!  (Wow, one would certainly want to check out the shipping cost for that!  Tufa is relatively light, so far as rocks go, but I don't think I'd want to pay for mailing it to anybody!)

It's too bad you are not here next weekend, as they always bring a load of tufa to the Calgary Rock and Alpine Garden Plant Sale, which is on Saturday.  But, a small number of other places in Calgary also sell tufa (probably supplied by RMT, I suspect).  Ornamental Stone (403-275-5550) is one I discovered, as I did a little phoning around earlier on.  You may see tufa rocks for sale that are drilled with large holes (2-3" diameter) for planting... I would advise avoiding these, as the holes are much too large for successful planting.  (If you want, you can drill your own planting holes easily, if you have access to a power drill with a wood bit - 1" across is more like it.)

Okay, I guess I'm not that easily embarrassed  ;D... here's the conclusion of Step 1, the laying of the major pieces, which have been firmed up with packed-in soil.   Excuse all the dirt - it will get hosed off, before I partially fill the crevices with a gritty mix; then a top dressing of the tufa gravel will eventually go on.  

I'll have to buy a few more pieces of tufa myself next weekend... it never fails in any stone project that I'm left at the end with a few pieces that don't seem to fit anywhere!  We need a few transition pieces to mesh "the mountain" a bit more smoothly with the surroundings and to link it with the now-very-modest-seeming old tufa garden!

Hmm, some of the more upright, jutting pieces put me in mind of Stonehenge... I mean the one from This is Spinal Tap, not the real one.   ;D ;D

The photo doesn't seem to show the scale... the big boulders (described as "2'x2' ") were miserable brutes to put in place.  Despite that I am tall, and pretty strong and fit, I could only just wiggle them around and flop them over.  DH was able, somehow, to bull them into place, after moving them with a dolly.  Yikes, if it was just me, they'd still be laying where the guys left them yesterday!

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

I am glad you gave some size dimension to the photo.  I would've been way off. 

I like it.  It's more in line with what I envision my crevice garden to be.  Right now, yours kind of looks like the backbone of a stegasaurus ;D to me.  Photos are so two dimensional.  I can't wait to see what it is really like.

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

RickR wrote:

I can't wait to see what it is really like.

Great, when are you coming to visit?  I'll bake a cake!  ;)
Yes, it does look strangely miniaturized in the photo!  To give a better idea of scale, the potentilla in the left rear is 4' tall; the bush to the right rear is an immense sweet-berry honeysuckle* (don't let anyone tell you these things only get to 3' tall)...   The tallest "peak" in the bed is 28", and the bed is 12' by ~8' in its broadest dimensions, with a U-shaped entrant in the front, for my eventual viewing pleasure.    ;D

*We have since determined that it's an amazing 14' wide by 9' tall - not at all what we were led to expect.

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Boland
Boland's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-09-25

I'm so jealous!  I wish I had access to tufa!

Todd Boland
St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
Zone 5b
1800 mm precipitation per year

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

Todd wrote:

I'm so jealous!  I wish I had access to tufa!

Can't you make your own? Mix cement/mortar and peat!

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

Trond, you are talking about hypertufa.  Todd is talking about natural tufa rock.

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

And here's the final product, with planting areas/crevices built up with gritty soil, and a tufa gravel top dressing...

1) I attempted to mesh it, more or less, to last year's little tufa garden in the foreground... (with a slight change in bedding plane direction there from the new bed to the old bed but just try to imagine the old bed is a rock slide or moraine... errr, yeah, that would explain it.   ;D  Hey, I'm a geologist - trust me! - this can happen!  :D )
2) The view from the back door... I don't like the contrast to the bark mulch that we used for all our paths... but, in its favour, bark mulch is a lot easier to weed than gravel, so I guess it can stay.  (Remember?  I've already explained that I'm very lazy!)
3) An imprint of a birch log in the tufa; even the lenticles are preserved.
4) Lots of interesting crags
5, 6) And many natural planting holes where the tufa formed around branches or where plant material may have decayed out.

Now, on to planting, which I started this evening!   :)

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

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