How to make a driveway dissapear:

Rarely do we get to unpave something and bring it back to life. Luckily our current client is doing just that! We spent considerable time busting up their circular drive that they were not using anyway so that it could be reclaimed as a garden space that they can enjoy every day.
We removed the asphalt with a pry bar and our gloved hands and removed the rock base below and are using it as a base for the raised planter and circular patio. Yup, it's reclaimed and recycled and all that jazz.

Step one was to move the driveway to the patio area (there are like 2 - 3 layers beneath that one, we've been busy). This raises the level so that the final stepping level will make for a reasonable step down from the garage door that will be installed at a later date.

One of the next steps, hide the driveway. All the rocks that were below the asphalt are now on top. Take that asphalt! A final base of 5/8 minus gravel was used to fine tune. We carefully leveled it so that it drains properly, final result will be porous but proper drainage is always important. Then we smash it all till it's perfect.
Then comes the sand. This part is always so pretty to me, which is good because it was too darn hot to work today and I was glad that there were some visible finished results. The sand is meticulously placed and leveled. Then the pavers are set on top according to the plan. I love the circular ones. I have ordered a circular patio for my house, and it's on the plans :)
So the pavers will nest perfectly into the curve of the wall, see what planning can do?!

So that is what we did these last few days, it's coming along. The pretty stucco part is next week, so if you are watching me (stalker!) then get ready for that. It takes a lot of effort to get these designs planned, started and scheduled just right, but here is the sneak peak of one in process. Hope you like it!

I cannot wait for mine!!

Flowers we wait for...

This sweet little wonder is Himalayan Blue Poppy. Last year she produced a single flower for us. This year she has 3 buds :) They bloom one at a time.
There are very few places that they grow well so I suppose we are lucky. I don't know if they self pollinate but I plan on collecting seeds to see if I can propagate it. We may get another plant so they can be pollinated. I just wanted to share.

Look! Progress!

I told you we would make it look like something! This is the point where we have to say, "It's not done yet". It's like at the point when the drywall is put up in your house and has all these seams and tape all over it... ya gotta wait, cause it's not done yet. It's gonna look cool.... patience!

So the very first step after "laying the courses" is already done is patching the seams and filling gaps where they are significant. Because we are making a curved structure out of squareish blocks there are a few places that will overlap and you can see the faceting of the blocks (see, just like gemstones with the faceting!) . Yesterday we did the outside coat of quickwall which adds a very strong "skin" to the blocks and eliminates the faceting. Today we do the inside and get started on filling certain areas to prep for seat boards. There will be boards with posts that fit into the side of the wall for seating and helping work in the planter. These planters are taller than our own since table height (that is what these are built too) is a better height all around for working. That's why tables are that high. It's best. 9/10 table makers agree :)

So then we get to put on the caps and do the finish stucco in the clients chosen favorite colors. Then we get to do the circular patio that nests right into the facing curve on the photo. It's gonna be great!

The pavers and caps get in on Tuesday! I cannot wait!

It's like a baby prediction in my coffee!

Peeps: What Licia? Yer crazy.

Licia: Yes, I know but it keeps me entertained. I find my fun where I can peeps.

So, see that? Totally a bird in my coffee right?
Well just a few days ago a new event happened! Okay it may not look like much, just a bunch of sticks that got into our concrete tools bin over the winter, but just a few days ago it started peeping! James found it when he went to get his bin for that job we are doing and a bird flew out at him and there were 4 tiny little white eggs in it.

The cutest little highly suspicious spastic flitting little tiny wrens go into that box with all manner of yummie bugs. And the tiniest sounds come from that box, very cute. We leave the box where it is and let them go about their rearing :)

To keep the memory of the cute little birdies in the bin, I bought this from the front page on Etsy. I like to have little handmade reminders. (It's by SpoolDesign.)

That is a cup of coffee in a cup of coffee, is it not? Totally is!
The coffee cup is great, and you can get them from Willow Tree Designs if you want one. Keeps my coffee warmer longer and I like how it feels.

Happy weekend all :)

First course: concrete blocks.

This may make things easier to visualize. Now we can see the form that the raised planter is going to take. See? It curves! Curves and stucco are fantastic (I said this before and no I will not be getting over it anytime soon). Think about those houses in Santa Fae that have the adobe style and all the interior features are curved. It's great I tell you! In a garden they catch the light and show off the texture of the materials as the sun passes during the day.
So you have to visualize this at seat height with stone caps and rich saturated stucco walls. There will be plants too. It's gonna be great, and I will keep y'all posted on the progress.

Thanks for your comments everyone :)

I'm moving things.... dirt and rocks mainly.

We have been moving things. Dirt and rocks mostly as that is how things begin. This is our current project for a client. I am just so delighted that we are removing a driveway to install a garden. How cool is that? Removing what most people mow over their garden for, I feel so happy to be able to reclaim some earth and bring it back to a garden...
On that note, it's a helluva lot of work! The asphalt was removed by hand with a pry bar and sledgehammer. I pried, James smashed. Finer bits were done with a jackhammer and saw. The chunks were moved to be reused as a base for the area that is going to become the raised planter garden (next photo). Then the rocks (and dirt blend) below the asphalt were moved to top off the raised planter area. So yeah, we reduce and reuse :)

See all that sod... we made a mountain. See all that rocky soil? That's from the driveway area, and the crushed asphalt is below it.

The form is the base for a curved masonry raised planter that will be stucco'd (color choice to be determined) and capped. I just love the curved stucco bits! Here is a previous installation that includes some great curves: see the completed before and after photos here
We poured the concrete today and will build the wall next. Then we have to have a couple days of perfect weather to apply the stucco as it is touchy stuff that responds to weather conditions and all kinds of things. Another thing that is cool about stucco is that it takes impressions :) I love sticking things into it.So, that is what I have been up to... in the rain. It's hard work but gotta love it. Great inspiration for jewelry design too :)

Bat house in the garden

Yay, a mini project done! For the longest time (three years about) we have wanted a bat house. Bats are really great for the garden and surrounding areas, plus they eat bugs that I am not fond of. So there we have it!

It stands about ten feet tall, and if the Giant Sunflowers reach their maximum height, it will not be the tallest thing in the garden. I enjoy giant 12 foot tall sunflowers.

This is the link to the pdf of the plans . Or, if you are less inclined to actually build one yourself, they sell them too.

I will keep you updated on any bat activity. I know that sometimes it takes a year or two to entice new residents. There are bats in the area already though.

I also plan on doing a little more decoration of the box, cause it's just so plain. I'll be checking around Etsy for some fun outdoor things that I can add to the box.

Learn more about bats at the Bats Northwest website.