This past Valentine’s Day my valentine presented me with a rock-gathering trip (“My Valentine’s Day Rocked!” February 21, 2012). Well, I am happy to report those rocks have been rolled around, planted and placed, arranged and rearranged, and are now all settled in between the barn and the old existing cactus bed, dressing up an area that had been looking pretty forlorn. The before pictures were taken in February and March, at the end of winter and before Spring had sprung,  so of course things looked even bleaker then, but the area had not looked good for a long time, regardless of the season. Leaves on the trees and watered, green grass made a world of difference, as you can see in the after pictures. IMG_6645 IMG_8451   IMG_6651 IMG_8450 IMG_6798 IMG_8479 IMG_7068This flowering crabapple tree is the only survivor of ten little twelve-inch twigs I was sent upon joining the National Arbor Society many years ago, and the blooms are lovely, as you see below. Unfortunately, the blooms turn into apples that aren’t really usable and are falling off the tree as we speak, so I get to pick up apples every day or risk stepping on one and falling myself. They create a walking-on-marbles effect, and besides, they wind up looking like litter. IMG_7072 IMG_8470I picked them all up to take the pictures-after all , I didn’t want the bed to look messy. I have a feeling I will be picking up apples all summer. IMG_8461 IMG_8483I blurred the border between the existing bed and the new bed by removing part of the border, extending the white rocks that are supposed to be like a dry creek bed, and covering the open ground with mulch. IMG_7785 The mulch I use was graciously donated by the tree trimming company that trims trees in  the Muleshoe area for the electric company. They need a place to dispose of their wood chips, and I have a use for them, so we invited them to empty the truck in our pasture. After killing unwanted vegetation, I line the ground to be covered with heavy layers of newspaper and spread a thick layer of wood chips, and it works great. To the right in this picture is the long line of mulch waiting to be used; to the left is the walking path I am resurfacing with the mulch. That path is another story I will share with you some other time. But back to the new bed. I have had fun decorating with the rocks, other hardscape like horseshoes, animal skulls and antlers, pieces of wood and tree trunks, and pots of cactus that will have to go in come wintertime. IMG_8452 IMG_8475 And I could regale you with yet even more pictures of the new bed, but you get the idea. It was fun to work on this bed, and I enjoy wandering through it each day to see what is blooming and how things are growing. Stop by sometime, and I will give you the grand tour. IMG_8447 So, you see, diamonds aren’t the only rocks that make good Valentine’s Day presents.