Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The APEX project day 10


It was an eventful day.


50 tons have been set, and we will need a bit more to complete the last three, and smallest beds.


Julie tapped some sort of magic in "the zone" and ascended to become a rockwork magician.

We had lots of friends stop by to see the progress throughout the day, including Panayoti, who quietly took pictures.  And he is rarely quiet!

Greg, stalwart member of the Rock Garden Club, came by with his patient pooch and volunteered a few hours in the hot sun.


In our first bed completed, 
The final dressing went on.  
The gravel topdressing.  
The frosting.  
I was elated.  
This is the last mineral component before plants!

 We used two things:

 >"Indian Sunset" 1.5" screen, from Pioneer Sand for the larger "chips" which lock into cracks, preventing erosion as well as being a visual 'size-bridge' between fine gravel and full-sized-stones, and 

 >"Tan granite," 3/8" screen, for the rest; trucked all the way from the Rock Shop in Grand Junction (in order to match the stone and not be round in shape: peagravel works like ball-bearings to lubricate the falling and injuring of gardeners as well as rolling off slopes, failing to protect soil and keep it, in turn, from moving; it is better left in private gardens or when there are no other options)
The Stone at large, you may have wondered, is "Siloam" stone, sold as rip-rap and palletized specimens, which I presume, but have not confirmed, to be Dakota Formation Sandstone from the Siloam Quarry in Ca├▒on City, CO.

These are essentially "mulches" in the sense of the word that doesn't mean compost, protecting the mix (mostly sand) from drying by the sun/wind, as well as being eroded by rain/wind.

Ryan pioneered a new technique.  Blowing the excess sand/mix out of spaces; encouraging the gravels to settle to the top.  I was 100% dubious.  But it 100% worked.


It's getting bigger.



Lastly, a little discussion, inspired by Susan-in-the-Pink-hat, on
The garden hurting people 
and
People hurting the garden

The green fence, in reality, has sprung up because someone said that kids had been climbing on the stones over the weekend on the site.  We didn't even notice any stone out of place, fallen, or whatnot if that was the case. 

These things must be built strongly enough so that standing and walking on the stones does not dislodge them, and we check this during construction.  This structural integrity also is also working against erosion and frost heave.   The Gardener must walk over the stones as well, so not only are the stones locked together planted deeply, and often (but not always) pinning eachother in so they can't even be pulled out (in the case of plain old vandalism) but the soil mix must be at a level so that the topdressing settles between the stones and does not wander onto them, which would make a dangerous slippery-marbles-effect for the gardener or wanderer walking on them.  

Vandalism is a real possibility in any public space.  I've dealt with it at public gardens, and I've been told about it in other botanic institutions.   Dry Landscapes in Grand Junciton have had new cacti stolen (plant thieves seem to particularly love spineless claret cup, maybe it's the spinelessness…)  I was told that Denver Botanic has a particular and widespread problem of people trying to walk out with the plant name-signs (no, not tags, but whole damn signs: stake and all!).   

Solutions are never 100% effective, but they will make a big difference. 
Our artillery is:
-Sturdy construction 
-Cacti indeed
-Sharp topdressing (makes normal digging difficult, but trained crevice-gardeners will know how to bypass it)

Every public landscape is vulnerable.  Rocks lifted and thrown about? This is possible on every cobbled street, as well as at all those countless countless river-rock medians full of juniper and barberry in Wal-marts the country over. Flagstone paths in public parks could lose their pavers, new trees may be broken.  The human miscreant is a pest organism common in the public environment. The Crevice Garden is not alone.

Our clients, being a parks and rec district, deal with danger and liability all the time with swimming pools where people can drown every day, and ball courts where people can trip, bruise, and break themselves everyday. They were made aware of liabilities involved in the garden.  Luckily, the nearest facilities, which are pickleball courts, are dominated by adults (although children may attend classes, et al, in the adjacent building.)  

 The city of Lakewood, CO, boldly has agaves in medians- a plant that would surely impale a fool human who decided to fall headlong into one.  That municipality's legendary Kendrick Lake Gardens has charted those waters for me with their cacti- and agave- rich plantings surrounded by walking paths. 

We will keep safety in mind with spiney-plant placement;  and accomodating potetial young-climbers-in-training will be a botanical challenge for me when it comes time to place plants in spring. Agaves, particularly, I think hard about- avoiding places where kids are likely to slip off of rocks, but clever things like embedding them under shrubs, within beargrass, or whatnot may help.

The plan is to be more exclusive against plants which have trimming-maintenence-needs than plants that are scary-looking in this garden;  A Mark Twain quote about censorship may be laterally applied here:  "Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it.”

We will use our mean plants, but we will use them wisely.

{I have noticed just how often yuccas get planted on corners of sidewalks in landscapes- I swear, just look around- when there were hundreds of square feet elsewhere they could have been planted without invading leg space; usually, the fact that yuccas, being plants, will actually grow larger seems to be the forgotten consideration.  It is so common…)

At once, my inner civilist says passersby mustn't climb or whatnot on it, but my inner child,  and inner realist and inner artist all laugh and point out the crevice gardens totally invite kids to climb on them and that they should- that kids are deprived of normal everyday dangers in our present society, (a theme on NPR a month ago or so) and the experience of crawling up an artificial rock outcrop draped with plants- (early taxonamy starts with the pragmatic distinction between soft and fluffy Muhnenbergia reverchonii and the dagger-stiff Agave parryi; this, in a world where fewer of us all the time can distinguish a tomato from a cucumber plant) some soft and some pokey, is a moment of exploration and wonder.

As a human, I wouldn't dare take that away from another human being.

Kids are magnetically attracted, even to my young and ugly apartment crevice-garden.

An ex girlfriend once commented on my old garden at the time where a Musa basjoo grew over the main path, opening my senses beyond my eyes to what a garden can do:  She said "Your garden attacks visitors. If they didn't notice that there was a banana in it, they get whacked in the face by one."

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The APEX project day 9


We must be looking dangerous; they enclosed us in green fence today.  

(picture courtesy of Julie)

Friday, September 12, 2014

The APEX project day 7


To amend the shortness of rock, we ordered more. 
It came, on account of the prior days' precipitation, with a bit of a mobile pond.

Spriggy is often accidentally epic.  Here he is practicing for our planned ascent of Mt. Elbert on Sunday.

Captain Williams models a fashion of his own creation to combat the cold: Double-hat-Double-glove

The secret ingredient which was mixed into the sand: expanded shale from Timberline Gardens.  Lying on it like a mattress, Jordan  said he was checking if it is, in fact, "memory shale."    Our hope is that it will remember to stay moist amid the sand, providing better moisture and air to roots at once.

The main and largest bed was bordered with "perimeter" or "footer" stones, laboriously sunk in the heavy clay.  They were backfilled with the shaley-sand mix which will get completely "studded" or "paved" with stones, as we did to the South bed on left.  We plan for five beds total. You are looking at the largest two.




Thursday, September 11, 2014

The APEX project day 6



I grossly underestimated stone needed.  I am reminded that in geometry, when estimating for three dimensions, increases are factored not by multiplicaiton but exponentially!  That means a heck of a lot more stone… three additional tons came today.





Jordan Haenselman, Ryan Durfee, Kenton Seth, Paul Spriggs, Julie Anderson, Kyle Williams:
(The "crew" at its fullest, and the flag at half mast in observance of the date today)


I'd like to make an invitation to anyone interested who would like to stop by and have a look at the guts of this great heap while it is being coagulated. Come see all seven layers of a stone burrito.  The address is 11706 West 82nd Ave, Arvada, CO, 80005 for you computer-navigated drivers, and the Southwest corner of 82nd and Simms for cardinal-directed folks.  We are out there from 8-4, M-F for the next week and a half, or thereabouts.  When it's not raining.

If you stop by Friday, you may meet Paul Spriggs of Sprigg's Gardens, Victoria, BC, as this will be his last day consulting on the garden before he flies home.

Please be warned that we are having extreme amounts of fun.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The APEX project day 5





Now, with more "doneness!"

The Sand hath come.





And we doth not sit around.

For a garden this large, it is particularly important to orient the stones in the same direction, so we use a compass, set on the stone at hand, and here, with two rock bars to twist the stone to the right orientaion, which, for this particular garden, is bearing 300 degrees for every single rock in the whole enchilada.  Ironically, the steel rock bars, when within 3 feet or so will disrupt the compass, which makes for some dancing while we work.
That's Ryan Durfee of Pan's Gardens, sneaking in incognito to place stones.