Gardening with a Black Thumb: Indoor Rock Gardens

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Residing in rural Wisconsin, by day Eileen Troemel works as a clerical worker and part-time student. At night she spends her time writing. Raised on a farm, she has a love for nature and is inspired by the beauty and power she finds there. Nature and her just don’t get along though as she has the blackest of black thumbs.

With a maiden name of Stone, it was almost required that I like stones. My obsession with stones and rocks started with my father, who was a rock hound and amateur jewelry maker. During visits to Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin, he would wander the shore and pick up agates that interested him. 

I may not be able to grow anything, but I can do rocks. There are rocks in every room of my house, my car, at my job, and in my yard. If I could manage to find BIG boulders to put in my yard without it costing me a fortune, I’d have them all over my yard. 

My rocks are gathered in a variety of ways. I’ve picked up rocks wherever we have traveled. I have rocks from northern Wisconsin, South Dakota, Colorado and a few other states. I’d love to say I have a rock from every single state and maybe a few other countries, but I’m still working on that. Wherever I walk, I find good rocks.

I also buy my rocks at shows, at a wonderful rock shop in Madison, Wisconsin, Burnie’s Rock Shop, and a new age store Earthsong in Janesville. The bought rocks are most often polished. However, all it takes is an interesting shape or color and I’m all about having a rock.

I do have several stone spheres. I have them on display on the mantel in our family room. I use these spheres to help me meditate. They ground me. My favorite is my amethyst ball. I could stare into these beauties for hours. There is just something when I sit down to meditate that help relaxes me. I find the weight of them reassuring. As I hold the ball and meditate, it will warm to the touch. If I’m in a deep meditation the balls have become very hot–more than my body temperature.

I’ve created mini gardens in my car of stones. I have little stones that sit in the space between my cup holders. Most people don’t understand my obsession, but when the stones are there, they just make me happy. At work, I have several small stones sitting by my monitor. Some of my co-workers are also rock people, and they come to play with them when they need a moment. 

Recently we were rearranging rooms in our house. I’ve had daughters move out, so bedrooms are now other rooms. I moved a large buffet from the family room and put it in my craft room. In doing this I weeded out items we hadn’t used. Among those items were large glass vases. Inside the buffet was a random collection of rocks. I looked at the two groups of items and decided to make rock gardens.   

It was simple really. I placed the rocks carefully in the bottom of the clear vase, layering colors and textures so it was pleasing. I topped it off with a small dragon statue that didn’t have a home. It didn’t take long, and I made it with things I had in my house. If I wanted to add a more interest I could do silk flowers on top of the rocks.

Another mini project was to take one of my grandmother’s crystal candy bowls we never used and add the stones my father polished. It is an homage to both who have passed. Each time I look at the bowl I remember them both.

These little pops of earth around my house help me keep grounded. They are one way Mother Earth and I aren’t at odds. I can’t kill a rock so she doesn’t get mad at me when I gather up little bits of her to have around my house.

Photos By Eileen Troemel

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