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Archive for July, 2012

BGS Quarry Photos

Corncockle Quarry, Lochmaben. Dumfriesshire ‘Close-up view of splitting the sandstone by the ‘chisel wedge’ method. Eleven wedges are seen being forced into the stone to separate a block from the main mass of rock. Three quarrymen in typical working clothes are seen, two holding large sledge or striking hammers used for driving in the wedges. A selection of picks rest on the rock behind.’

A couple of photos in STONEZINE led me to the website of the British Geologic Survey which has some great photos from quarries and other sites of geologic interest. These photos here are all 1930’s era, but to some extent the techniques haven’t changed that much, and pallets of stone still sometimes come marked with the name of the individual who quarried them.

Rubislaw Quarry. Aberdeenshire ‘View at surface, showing dressed and partly dressed building stones. The granite is mainly used for building and monumental work. Two quarrymen prepare a granite block to be split by using the plug and feather method. They are using pneumatic drills to drill short holes around the block into which the plug and feathers are inserted. These are then systematically struck with hammers, causing the block to split. Another quarryman appears to be using a measuring stick against a large block of granite.’

Silver Grey Quarry, Creetown. Kirkcudbrightshire ‘A large granite block being prepared for splitting on the quarry floor by means of ‘plug and feathers’ method. Two quarrymen can be seen inserting the ‘plug and feathers’ into a large granite block. A recently separated block can be seen in the foreground. A series of narrow holes a few inches apart were drilled by a pneumatic drill. Two half cylinders of steel called ‘feathers’ were inserted into all the holes. A steel wedge-shaped ‘plug’ was then inserted. The plugs were then hit in succession with a hammer and a straight split in the granite block would result.’

Silver Grey Quarry, Creetown. Kirkcudbrightshire ‘A large granite block split into two on the quarry floor using the plug and feathers method. Two quarrymen, one wielding a crowbar, displaying recently split large blocks using the ‘plug and feather’ method. A series of narrow holes a few inches apart were drilled by a pneumatic drill. Two half cylinders of steel called ‘feathers’ were inserted into all the holes. A steel wedge-shaped ‘plug’ was then inserted. The plugs were then hit in succession with a hammer and a straight split in the granite block would result.’

Craignair Hill Quarry, Dalbeattie. Kirkcudbrightshire ‘A view of the open kerb-making yard. Two workers can be seen standing at barrels filled with sand on which the stone was dressed. Completed kerbs are seen stacked to the left of the photograph.’

Corsehill Quarry, Annan. Dumfriesshire ‘The masons are shown wielding wooden mallets called ‘mells’ and chisels as they work on the stone. On the left are sawn blocks; some show small holes cut in the faces. These holes are used for gripping and handling the blocks with a dog and chain sling as in the centre foreground.’

Craignair Hill Quarry, Dalbeattie. Kirkcudbrightshire ‘Granite sett-making on the yard floor. A sett-maker wielding a hammer at work in front of his hut. On the left are the rough unprocessed blocks while to the right are carefully stacked finished setts. A ‘sett’ is stone roughly squared for paving.’

Craignair Hill Quarry, Dalbeattie. Kirkcudbrightshire ‘Sett-making on the yard floor. Two workers (and a dog!) are seen. One is working on a sett. Note the chisel faced hammer he is using and the very large pile of completed setts piled carefully behind.’

Locharbriggs Quarry. Dumfriesshire ‘A close-up showing the ‘shot-grove’ and chisel wedge method of splitting stone. Widely spaced holes are drilled and filled with black powder; once blown and the blocks dislodged, chisel wedges are driven in along planes of weakness (usually bedding planes) to further work the stone. Note the quarryman wielding the large crowbar.’

Locharbriggs Quarry. Dumfriesshire ‘A close-up showing the ‘shot-grove’ and chisel wedge method of splitting stone. Widely spaced holes are drilled and filled with black powder; once blown and the blocks dislodged, chisel wedges are driven in along planes of weakness (usually bedding planes) to further work the stone. Note the quarryman wielding the large crowbar.’

Rubislaw Quarry. Aberdeenshire ‘General view of floor and west wall of this granite quarry, showing west-south-westerly running joints and material brought down by blasting. Holes, six metres long were drilled using pneumatic drills, black powder was inserted and then blasted. The natural weakness of the joint planes was used in deciding where to drill and blast.’

STONEZINE

The Stone Foundation just began an online version of their print magazine, StoneNexus. They’re calling the web magazine STONEZINE. Future issues will be for Stone Foundation members, but the first issue is available for free. Anyone interested in stone should definitely click over to check it out and also consider becoming a member. The print magazine always has lots of good content, ranging from historic stonework to recent projects, and the online form seems to have even more.

Bloom Day, Underappreciated Bloomers

Happy July Bloom Day. We’re about a month past the prime season in our garden, but there are still a number of things in bloom, more than I guessed when I started out into the garden to take photos, I think because a lot of the plants are ones that I don’t appreciate as much as I should. Most have been in the garden for a number of years, persevering and blooming without much help from me, so I don’t take as much notice when they open up their flowers.

The showiest, happiest bloomer is our canna in the gray-water planter. I found this plant years ago covered with cobwebs in a pot underneath my mother’s porch. I think she put it there when it went deciduous and then forgot to bring it back out again in the spring. Beside it, the Spicebush, also fed with gray-water, is now fifteen feet tall and twelve wide and sometimes referred to as the Spicebeast. At times the fragrance from all the flowers fills the porch with their old wine barrel scent. We’ll have to prune it back pretty hard this winter, which will be a shame. I’m not sure it’s really underappreciated, but I do give it second billing to the wisteria with regards to our outdoor shower, even though the Spicebush blooms for a much longer season with fragrant flowers, stylish seed heads, and big green leaves that give a wonderful tropical feeling to the shower.

The Cal Poppies are doing a second bloom about now, especially this one in the veggie garden. It was overcast when I took this photo, but the sun is out now, the flowers have perked up, and I should probably re-photograph it. I love Cal Poppies, but I sometimes forget to appreciate how great and reliable the plain orange ones are.

I mentioned in the last post that Anita is now running the veggie garden, keeping some things, changing others, and in a couple of cases bringing back plants that I let decline for one reason or another. Violas are one of those things. They were one of the first things we planted here and several large patches did well for a while before declining when the skunks began digging aggressively in the garden. Now that we have a dog in the yard, the skunks are leaving the garden alone, and the violas should thrive again. More below the fold. (more…)

Garden Projects

Last December I posted about edging three of our four veggie beds with stone. This past week I did the final veggie bed, so all of the garden beds are now fully edged with stone. That feels like an important step, considering the name of this blog and the fact that our veggie garden is more prominent than in most gardens. There are seven kinds of stone throughout the four beds, plus a couple of more in other parts of the garden, all of it leftover scrap from larger projects.
I’m pleased to have the stonework done, but I’m also really pleased just to have once again used up all of my leftover materials. Yesterday one of our neighbors asked which house was mine, and I was getting a blank look from my initial descriptions, but when I said ‘the one that always has stone piled in the hell strip,’ she immediately knew which house I meant. Not really a good thing. There’s not currently any stone piled there, which feels like an accomplishment, but I’m also now out of spots in the garden that need stonework, so I’m not sure what I’ll do the next time I have leftover materials.

Out of all the sections, my favorite is this mix of tan and gray sandstones, probably because it is so different from what I usually build; I usually don’t mix different kinds of stone and I usually don’t like to see saw cut edges. Novelty has a distinct charm. I’ve had a big list of projects to do in the garden this year (including the garden-shed/blogging-room still waiting for me to finish the stucco) so Anita has taken over vegetable gardening duties. Last year, I started to fill the beds with permanent plants like blueberries, currants, and strawberries, but she’s opening them back up for annual vegetables. This is our first time growing lettuce in two years.

Along with taking over the veggies, Anita tidied up our front porch this week, another long overdue task that included rearranging the containers beside our front door. We’ve had a Brugmansia there for a couple of years, but it was getting tired after years living in a container in deep shade. This Vine Maple is now in its place. It’s a little one that needs a pedestal to raise it up high enough for the space, but it’s a really nice specimen. I think it was the last plant in our garden to leaf out this year, but the foliage is totally worth the wait.

And speaking of containers, one random thing I did with some of the smaller scrap was make this little container. I thought I might use it in the veggie garden edging as a cornerstone or something, but that turned out to be a silly idea; it’s much better as a stand alone little thing. It currently has Scotch Moss in it, but I’m trying to think of a native groundcover that might work. There’s a Mimulus groundcover, M. primuloides, that would look good, but I think it would need constant water and I’m not sure how it would do with the alkaline interior of the container. The native Sedum would probably work, but I don’t think it would contrast enough with the gray stone. Any suggestions about other small native groundcovers?

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