Compass Garden:

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  1. show slide Building the four raised beds began with these piles of locally quarried limestone donated to Hominy Valley Elementary School by neighboring Vulcan Materials.
  2. show slide Garden designer Steve Ambrose used this surveyors transit to determine where to site the planned triangular beds and to orient them precisely to true north, east, south, and west.
  3. show slide Each bed was laid out as an equilateral triangle, and the foundation for its walls was dug.
  4. show slide Ambrose Landscapes' team of stonework artisans began to stack the walls. The worker at right is chipping a stone with a mason's hammer to fit better.
  5. show slide The stones are 'dry stacked', fit together without mortar. This will help keep the soil aerated, and will make minor repairs relatively easy for non-stonemasons to do.
  6. show slide But building dry-stack stonework well is an intricate art. It requires plenty of professional experience and intuition to know how to select just the right rocks and assemble them to maximize both the strength and the beauty of a structure.
  7. show slide The low height and triangular shape of these raised beds will make them easy for the schoolchildren to reach into as they plant, tend, and harvest the vegetables they will grow in the Hominy Valley Elementary School Compass Garden.
  8. show slide Strings tied taut between stakes indicate where the top of the wall will be. They guide the stoneworkers so they can ensure that the final courses of stones create a flat and level top surface.
  9. show slide For stability, the walls slope inward so that they are thickest at the inside bottom of the triangle.
  10. show slide The beds' walls are swiftly nearing completion.
  11. show slide A spirit level ensures that the walls' tops are straight and true.
  12. show slide Each bed is filled with compost-rich soil.
  13. show slide A standing stone to mark true north is erected in the north bed, and the finished stone raised beds are watered. Now, on March 12, the Hominy Valley Elementary School Compass Garden is ready in time for the students to make their first spring plantings.
Stone wall by Ambrose Landscapes, AshevilleStone wall by Ambrose Landscapes, Asheville

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