George Hromyak has a green thumb and a talent for landscaping with local rock and stones. Recently retired, Hromyak, of Country Lane in Frankfort, acquired the nickname "Rockhound" the old-fashioned way: by gathering old rocks from the sides of roads, in dry creekbeds, and whenever and wherever the stones are accessible and free.
"I'm always looking for them," he said. "I've picked up hundreds of thousands of them over the years.
"I like to think about how long ago they were formed, and it's just a fun thing."
Occasionally, Hromyak recruits his wife, Carol, to stock up on "product," as he calls them. She doesn't complain, she said, because he always manages to improve the look of their yard with each new project.
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Here are Hromyak's tips for working with stone in the garden:
1. Respect the old stone fences of the Bluegrass. Just because some of the walls might look as if they're falling down and crumbling doesn't mean you can carry off the rocks for your own benefit. They're a part of our history and can be rebuilt for years of enjoyment for future generations if they're not dismantled.
2. Natural stone beats man-made materials, hands down.
3. Stones used in an edge or border in the garden should not have straight lines. There are very few straight lines in nature. Let the design of the edge and border flow to make it look natural.
4. Try to re-create the look of where you found the rock. For example, if you have limestone, place it horizontally, because that's how limestone runs.
5. You can never have too many rocks. They can be used in paths, borders, stone walls and maybe even as a centerpiece in the garden. When you use them in landscaping, try to vary the sizes of rocks. That's the way they look in nature.