If you were to walk 10 paces in from where this photo was taken and look up, you would find yourself squinting at a pale blue summer sky with only very,very tall trees framing in the opening. If you had happened to be looking for a place to build a labyrinth (like one does) you would have known instantly, that that must have been the sole reason for this space. So the labyrinth, we began.
Before we started working we set up a video camera and recorded nearly every minute of building from beginning to end. With that said very few photos were taken during work hours. I think I have enough here though to show you the major steps.
The first day was spent clearing the brush, combing and pulling out a trailer full of wild Wisteria roots, and benchmarking the area level to find the proper hight of both retaining walls. Our day was cut a little short due to a terrific downpour. We worked through until we were unable to safely stand in the mud and swing a mattock without it slipping every time.
This photo was taken before work two days later. The surface was mostly dry and the ground was now easier to dig. First break!
Before we started digging we were completely unaware of this stump. Several hours later we were able to snap the tap root. We actually ended up changing the design for the bench in the labyrinth due to this stump. In retrospect it obviously knew something we didn’t.
This is the view looking down from the back of the house. We were now done with clearing the space and leveling. The next step was choosing the stone and boulders.
Hand picking stone at “Pete Rose, Inc.”. This one, when stood up will be the center stone/throne facing north, replacing the handsome but not everlasting stump.
The stone was delivered and dropped off on the street outside of the property. This is Weatherface stone for the walls.
Split Weatherface stone for the path.
Next we had to figure out a forest friendly way to get the stone into the site. Since we didn’t have 50 or even 5 friends that were willing to hand off stone-to-stone in the winter of 2009 – 2010 I had to come up with a plan. Even the folks at “Torrence Rope and Sling” were curious to hear just how well this would work. I wasn’t all that sure my self. Once we figured it out though we only ended up using 30 feet of the pulling (larger) rope and none of the retrieving (smaller) rope. The rope ended up creating too much friction when dragged along the ground. The (gold) rings originally intended for holding the rope off the ground could not be fixed at any point on the cable in order for the chain fall to run the entire length. The rings ended up adding to the friction problem as well. So rather than one of us running while the other pulled, we both ran with it, every time… EVERY, SINGLE, TIME.
Regardless of how many times it took, it was far better with both of us working on the same side of the pulley anyway. Well, except for that one time. (The video we’ll release in the fall of next year will most likely reveal that “one time” and, most likely during the end credits).
The pulley system and wheelbarrow bucket that helped Paul and I move 16 tons of stone and 4 tons of broken sidewalk (used for drainage) 187 feet from the street to the work site.
Okay so I know we skipped a few shots using the pulley system and constructing the labyrinth. Not to worry, this was all shot with a video camera and by next Fall (2011) we will have time-lapsed footage of the entire project (so far over 90 hours). Hopefully, it can be condensed closer to five minutes.
The pulley system with a few upgrades. A second winch for backup and two notched out 4x4s. This allowed us to put a much heavier load without stressing the second wheelbarrow bucket.
Put to bed with mushroom compost, the labyrinth sleeps tonight… and through the rest of winter.
We tried out a few plants from the owner’s green house in the Spring. This ‘Persian Shield’ did particularly well with cool roots and three hours of sun during the hottest part of the day. Strobilanthes dyerianus
The lower dry stack wall a day after a downpour.
Now, filling in with ground cover. We narrowed it down to just under 40 varieties of “Stepables” from “Sandy’s Plants”, most of which are deer resistant. The blue blooming varieties will trail downhill diagonally across the upper retaining wall. Then wind through the labyrinth before spilling over the bottom wall and disappearing into the woods. This will hopefully create the effect of a living stream from mid spring to early fall.
Um, yes, I think we have enough.
Stonecrop for the bench. Sedum sieboldii ‘Mediovariegatum’ putting on an early fall show.
Acorus gramineus ‘Minimus Aureus’ Dwarf Golden Sweet Flag, and friends.
No blue till spring.
Till then, 38 shades of Green.
The bench that could not have been, with out the help of a rather omniscient stump.
Finally, the beginning of a beautiful thing, which of course can only grow greener as thyme goes on. Sorry I couldn’t resist.
I will continue to post images of the labyrinth as the spaces fill in, and video when next years blooms are done. We hope you like our labyrinth and check back in often.