Monday, August 21, 2017

Backyard Project: Gravel Spreading, Rock Placing, Roof Making

Taylor moving the compactor in place
The gravel spreading continues on the last path

It is easy to move the gravel in place with the Bobcat on this last path.

Crew waits for my directions

Taylor moves rocks to make a nice curved edge from the forest track to the gravel edge and cedar fence.

Josh and Dave work on the other side placing rocks between the gravel path and the garden bed.

The clear corrugated plastic sheets are put in place to complete the Garden Shed area roof.

Josh and Taylor at work on the roof.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Backyard Project: Pattern Language #120 Paths & Goals, #121 Path Shape


Pattern Language #120 Paths and Goals
"The layout of paths will seem right and comfortable only when it is compatible with the process of walking. And the process of walking is far more subtle than one might think." p. 586.
The location of this path to the studio front door is tied in with Pattern Language #110 Main Entrance. "Place the main entrance of the building at a point where it can be seen immediately from the main avenues of approach and give it a bold visible shape which stands out in front of the building." p. 544.
This middle-sized walking path leads directly to the front door of the studio making the door's location obvious.

"To lay out paths, first place goals at natural points of interest. Then connect the goals to one another to form the paths." pp 587-8.
I know I did not follow this pattern advice when developing the conceptual design for the Backyard Project. My priority for moving around the space was to provide access for the lawn tractor with its trailer to move from one side to the other. If the path was in a straight line across the back the house it would have been an eyesore. Instead, I planned a curving path that helps disguise its purpose while connecting with all of the other functional paths.
I plan to work towards this pattern with plantings, seating, art and other focal points.

Pattern Language #121 Path Shape
"Streets should be for staying in, and not just for moving through..." p. 590.
'Make a bulge in the middle of a public path, and make the ends narrower, so the path forms an enclosure which is a place to stay, not just a place to pass through." p. 591.
The smaller path going to my studio has a narrow entrance restricted by rocks to stop people thinking it is the main path to the front door. It bulges out where there is a bird bath (to be installed on the green septic tank cover) and is the place for a coiled hose. One can stop and enjoy the calming activity of watering plants and filling the birdbath.

Valerie Easton's book 'A Pattern Garden, The Essential Elements of Garden Making' contains detailed guidance on designing paths according to Pattern Language principles.
'One uniform material, no matter how lovely, probably doesn't fit all garden situations equally well. Using a single material for paths misses the chance to stir up some excitement and interest underfoot, as well as the opportunity to cue the garden experience by slowing or accelerating one's passage through it.' p. 75.
 The path of the tractor had to have a material that would stand up to its use in all weather conditions but I did wonder if that meant there was just too much gravel and its qualities would dominate the space. 
This shorter, curved path going up the hill made from large rocks in contrast with the gravel path of the same stone provides some break from the mass of gravel.


The 'gardener's paths' following the shapes of the Hugelkultur beds are marked with rounds of cut logs. It is important these alternative 'pathway materials can and should be varied, provided that affinity of colour, texture, and basic nature is kept in mind.' Easton p. 75.


The ground surface of the Pergola will be pieces of hard slate interplanted with plants while the meandering path through the Gravel Bed garden will be soft ground cover plants.
These 2 patterns for paths are ones I will continue to work on as I develop the garden because I know I haven't fully realised them yet.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Backyard Project: Work Continues on the Pathways

How to move gravel efficiently. 
Josh, in the Bobcat, Dave and Taylor, behind the wheelbarrows, have come up with an efficient way to move a lot of gravel.

Josh loads up the bucket with gravel while Dave and Taylor line up their wheelbarrows. Josh then empties the bucket into both wheelbarrows at once. 
The Arbour is large enough for Josh to get the Bobcat into where the gravel is needed next.

Another mid-sized pathway is covered with gravel.

Josh has levelled out the soil and rocks on the pathway up to the Garden Sheds, cutting and filling as needed.

Dave marks on the rock the depth of gravel needed.

Excess loose stones and rocks are placed on the west side of the path to build a random rock edge.

The lawn tractor has to be able to get up this path so I used the longest path-guide stick to mark out its boundaries. While keeping out of the way of others I made an edge of interlocked rock to contain the gravel and define the garden edge. This edge of larger placed rocks contrasts with the small random rock wall on the other side of the path.

The placing of the gravel gets easier as the crew work closer to where the gravel was dumped.

The Bobcat can reach up to the Garden Sheds to drop loads for the flat work area.

In the meantime, Sammy has made the first delivery of local slate he sourced from a quarry in Sooke. 

It is called Renfrew slate and has lots of greys and browns in it. Perfect.

They have started laying the slate on the bridge to the Pergola.
The changes seem to happen so quickly this week.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Backyard Project: Spreading the Gravel Transforms the Space

Everyone was excited by the transformation that took place as each path was cleared of rocks, levelled then covered with gravel. Josh, Dave and Taylor worked very hard wheelbarrowing loads of gravel, levelling and compacting.

The finished Pergola area compared with the rough path in the foreground.


The Arbour. No more stumbling over rocks and into holes. And the gravel makes the right sound when I walk on it. However, it is not friendly to bare feet.

Arbour path and Pergola. It was in the plan the Gravel Bed rocks would be lighter in value than the paths to make it read further away and deeper than it is. Also, the different value keeps the 2 'rooms' separate.

I used the longest path-guide stick to mark out the edge of the path with blue tape. This is a path the lawn tractor uses to enter the back yard through the cedar gate.


Sammy Kent, the owner of Pacific Ecoscapes, arrived with his team and started the preparation work on the hard surface for the Pergola area. 

Josh and Taylor prep the main path to my studio. I used the middle-sized path-guide stick to mark out its shape. It is a walking path 2 can walk along together and it can also accommodate a wheelbarrow.

Sammy worked with Josh's team advising on the best construction method for the landscape.

The log edges tie the studio beds to the log edges around the Hugel-kultur beds. They define the edge of the meadow areas and the add to the symmetry of the inviting approach to the Studio. They also help to make the Studio front door obvious.

The 2 main equipment items needed for the hard labour of moving and placing gravel are a wheelbarrow and a compactor.

It was decided to put a permeable cloth under the back path to the studio to restrict the growth of plants growing up through the gravel.

I had used the shortest path-guide stick to mark out this path. It is made for one person to walk along. It is my short route to the Studio when it is raining. Once the plants have matured it will barely be visible.

There was enough fabric to line the main path to the studio as well. With fabric down the gravel doesn't need to be as deep, only about 2 inches compared with the other paths that need over 3 inches of gravel to stop plants growing in it.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Playing Tourists At Home When Company Comes

You know how it is - you visit the local sites when company comes.
The most popular place to visit with our company is Butchart Gardens which are not far from home.
From early spring there is a spectacular show of blooms until late in the fall.

Japanese Garden
Every visit I see landscaping ideas.

Here is a multi-functional edging that fits my garden design requirements.

Shakkei design in Butchart Gardens - a Japanese garden design concept literally meaning 'the borrowing of scenery.' The garden elements - a round hole in a cedar hedge - take advantage of appealing elements in the distant landscape - the tranquil Todd Inlet with boats.

Within its well-designed gardens, Butchart offers the wide range of scale designers aim for - the micro view of a bloom at one's feet to the macro view of plantings across the expanse of a worked out quarry.

Another popular spot we take our company is Sooke Harbour House after a drive through a forest and along the shoreline. I love to search out the newest art in the garden as well as checking their organic food gardens.
This aged, split cedar screen does the job of screening off a temporary event tent giving some privacy to those on either side.

And of course, there is the art littered everywhere inside Sooke Harbour House.
Having company keeps us continuing to explore where we live when we find the new and re-explore when we thought was familiar.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Backyard Project: The Path Gravel Arrives

Beep Beep Beep Beep
A truck is backing up the track, guided by Josh.
Yipee, the gravel has arrived.

Josh has set out some of the larger plywood pieces to form a barrier to restrict the flow of gravel when it is dumped.

Dumping the gravel.


When the driver hopped out I asked if she was Jen. But no. The owner named his company after his daughter Jen and son Cam. 
I'm sorry I have forgotten the driver's name because she is very good. She arrived on time, took great care backing up the track and didn't touch any of the landscaping rocks with her truck.

Discussions about the current road conditions and the time the driver estimates she will be back with the 2nd load of gravel.

That's it - 3 loads of gravel.
Now the hard work starts.