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The Labyrinth Path

A garden is never really finished. Presently, many areas of the garden have yet to fulfill their intention. This does not deter us from starting new projects. Once a vision gets into the head the only way to get it out is to start. This project may best exemplify the initiation, development, execution, and fulfillment of a vision. We begin the project in a space that was waiting to become a place. Now all I need is the right design, the right materials and a whole lot of time.
In April of 2009 I started preparing the site.Throughout the summer the circle pad was created and the grade was leveled. It seemed to gradually enlarge as all projects do. The 28ft -29ft circle will require a 30ft enclosure, with a retaining wall on the low side. The plan- is to use stackable Roman wall block. This will create a 2ft high wall, enclosing 3/4 of the circle, with openings on opposite ends. We wouldn't want anyone to feel trapped in the Labyrinth! Within a garden of size, areas are given names. If for no other reason than to communicate the where, when discussing the garden. For several years this area has been known as the Celtic garden. I was never sure what that would eventually look like, but I envisioned a circular area created with stone. A place to gather or be alone! When Miriam suggested that we needed a Labyrinth path, the vision became clearer.
I searched for a design and found one called the Celtic Chalice which was Ok, but still a little too simple. I gravitated toward the Chartres circuit style. These create an extensive path within a small area. But, it didn’t feel Celtic! Is this what we should we settle for? As I paged through a book of Celtic knot designs I got an idea and started drawing circles. Lots of circles! All labyrinth designs involve plenty of geometry, this design is no exception. A design seems simple and clear when it is complete. That’s because all the work has already been done. I didn't have computer design skills, just a pencil, a compass, graph paper and lots of circles. The design at the bottom is the current ambition. Yes the size of the pad needed to be expanded. The metaphoric, inner and outer circles are now physically defined. The next phase is to create the path that will lead from the outer to the inner and back.
The path will is made using Old Dominion pavers, that are designed to create circle patterns. A single pallet holds the combination of shapes that will produce a 6' 9" circle. The trick will be to use these shapes in a way that cracks the circle and turns it back onto itself. These shapes are not available as individual paver and must be purchased as a pallet unit. (thanks guys) I transferred the 6 points of the outer circle and set the grid lines, from paper to labyrinth location. The core of the design is derived from thirteen 6ft circles. I laid the pavers of the 6ft center circle. Then using the grid lines for placement, I scratched in six circles that hug the outside perimeter and six more that hug the outside edge of the center circle. The paver pattern was worked out, in that it would enter and turn back within the 6ft circular space and then move on and connect to the next circle. The next step was to set the pavers. I could not just level the sand and set! Each paver had to be leveled spaced and set individually, as well as to its adjacent paver and across open line to other parts of the paver path. Next, fill in the lines and the spaces between. I wanted the pad to be a hard surface. I decided to infill using stone or pebble mosaic. This will require many thousands of stones. Many hours of collecting rock and many hours of setting them in place. This will appear as running patterns of small stones, set on edge with 1/4 inch to minus, crushed basalt rock as the binder. This product is sharp and angular, which will help lock in the stones and pavers. I found that flat washed beech stones are abundant and the only cost is time it takes to collect them. The stones are set in the gravel on their edge leaving only a small portion of the stone exposed. Collecting aside, it takes about an hour to set 1/2 sq foot of stone. Literally, it will be done inch by inch.  Working my way from the center outwards, filling in the lines. Collecting and selecting, setting, tapping, tamping, dusting and brushing. Time consuming, but not tedious. The largest areas lay ahead. I think it will be worth it!

The unexpected:
I was standing in the center of the circle talking to myself I'm sure, and I notice a slight but discernible echo resonance of my voice. This was definitely not by design, but I was not surprised to notice at this effect. Sometimes things just happen the way they are supposed to. Here is a definition and a little of the physical science of resonant energy .
a. The condition of a system in which there is a sharp maximum probability for the absorption of electromagnetic radiation or capture of particles.
b. A type of elementary particle of extremely short lifetime. Resonances are regarded as excited states of more stable particles.
c. A highly transient atomic state formed during a collision process. When a sound wave, which is made up of kinetic energy, collides with a surface, it will release its kinetic energy as heat at the site of that collision. If it collides with a gritty surface with many hills and valleys of molecules, it will collide against a greater number of molecules, and more of its energy will be converted to  heat. Smooth materials, on the other hand, allow relatively few opportunities for small, individual collisions between the surface's molecules and the sound wave -- and therefore less of the sound wave's energy is converted to heat, and more of it bounces back off of the surface as an echo or in this case a harmonic resonance. 

The hard surface of the short wall, in combination with the concave shape must aid in creating this effect. This resonance helps retain the energy created  
within the circle. It's all good!

This was the original 7 circut labyrinth design.
Grid and Circle Drawing

Circles connected into a Celtic Spiral design.

Start of site prep for the Labyrinth April 2009
At the end of day one.
6 ft center circle using Old Dominion Pavers
Site expanded and graded with gravel

Setting the base row of the enclosure wall.

The inner and outer circle's

Working out the pattern for the pavers

Rough in path design on the gravel.

Paver Pattern
The path lay out; July 2012
Stone Mosaic
Filling out
Freshly set stones
Freshly Washed Stones

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Renewable stone quarry
Closer view