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Monday, June 17, 2013

41 Cottage8: Operation Pea Gravel

Question: What happens when you combine positive determination, heaps of sweat and dust, and the kindness of one stranger?

Answer: 1500 pounds of free gravel!


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A couple months while back, I was browsing Craig’s List for pea gravel and came across an ad offering an entire side yard of free gravel, you haul it yourself. The gentleman offering the gravel was located in the Hollywood Hills, less than an hour from us. I emailed him, he emailed me right back, and due to busy schedules we arranged a pick up date for two weeks later.

The pick up day arrived, and we were enthusiastically loading our shovels in the truck preparing to head out when we witnessed heaps of smoke rising in the surrounding hills of our neighborhood. We immediately cancelled our plans. As it turned out, that was day 1 of one of the worst fires our community had ever seen. No lives were lost, thanks to the courageous and swift actions of our amazing firefighters.




We rescheduled the pick up date, and three weeks later we anxiously arrived at the home of the kind stranger who stood by his word. He held onto the gravel for us for nearly six weeks, despite the dozens of emails he continued to receive from interested takers. He was just as nice in person as I thought he would be, and thankful to see this gravel go off to a new home.

His side yard was long and narrow, and there were concrete steps to navigate on each pass. It was hot and dusty, and there was a flurry of bees buzzing around the tree just above our heads. None of this mattered. Our hearts were determined.


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We scraped up nearly every tiny pebble, every smooth edged small rock. All 1500 pounds of it.


T
he ride home was exhaustive and victorious all at once.


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Back to our place, this is how the backyard looked 5 years ago, when we first bought this house:


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And here’s how it looks now, with our new pea gravel path in place…


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These tiny little pebbles bring my heart such joy, I can’t even explain…

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I posted this photo on my Instagram. You can see slight the curve in the path at the end, my favorite part.

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Another view of the curved gravel path, along with a peek at our new hydrangeas we just planted last week!


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It’s official: I am a hydrangea enthusiast! No seriously, I think I’m addicted to these things. Is it normal to dream of planting every color, every variety of hydrangea in your garden? I love looking out the window each morning to see these huge pom pom heads of color!


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Gardening and flowers, and pea gravel pathways. Strangely this is all very new to me. For years I’ve focused on interior design, not exterior living. I’m realizing the outdoors really are a living extension of our home and I’m discovering every meal is better enjoyed when shared in the garden : )

I’d love to know, what’s your favorite flower in your garden?


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41 comments:

  1. Hydrangeas are my fav too! We have them in pots on the back porch- too hot here in Texas to plant in the beds! I love the gravel path :)

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    Replies
    1. Love the idea of potting them, Little Cottage. I'm spying a little spot in front of our vinyl gate that could use some potted hydrangeas! Hmmmm...

      oxox
      Jennifer

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  2. Love what you've done! I live in what used to be zone 6, now labeled zone 7 by USDA. Stop by my blog if you get a chance and see my post "Gardening Grows the Spirit 2012" (it's a featured post on the sidebar). It's hard to name a favorite - they're like all my children, lol, but I do love hydrangeas and have those too. Best wishes in your new found love of gardening!
    ~Rita

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Rita! Another thing new to me, zones. I've fallen down the gardening rabbit hole, lol. I'll have to check out your garden post : )

      oxox
      Jennifer

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  3. Oh wow, It's WONDERFUL! I love love the little pea gravel, it makes the yard look so pretty and landscaped. The curve is just perfect, and the hydrangeas are the icing on the cake! I do think you should plant every variety. too! You will have them blooming all summer! I'm sure that was brutal work, but i know you are not afraid of hard labor. Your gravel guy was so great to hold onto it for you. What an honorable man. That wildfire is terrifying looking, holy cow! Glad you are ok, i know you'd fight a wildfire now to protect those pretty hydrangeas!

    Cindy

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Cindy! I always appreciate your comments friend : )

      oxox
      Jennifer

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  4. We just did a pea gravel walk too. Lots of heavy lifting and raking but oh so worth it! Nice job~love the hydrangea garden too.

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    1. Thanks Amy! I'm finding the gravel is starting to settle in nicely. I can't wait till we get some rains here, I think it will make it's way in even more : )

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  5. I hear you about the hydrangeas, but my new-found-love is peonies!! Great job on the gravel! Isn't all the work worth it? :o)

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    Replies
    1. So worth it, Larissa. Ohhh, peonies! I'm on it...Google here I come, lol : )

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  6. Love your winding walkway! I want to do something similar in my backyard and am curious about the boards you used for edging. Are they "bender boards"?

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  7. Excellent landscape and pea gravel find!!! What a great idea to search Craig's list!!! I love that!

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  8. I'm so glad I found your blog! Just in time to hear and see the story about our shared favorite flowering shrub, the Hydrangea. What a wonderful story of generosity and triumph! Thank you for sharing it.

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  9. This is so wonderful Jennifer. I love the pea gravel and how it looks. Your Hydrangeas are gorgeous they are one of my favs too. Beautiful backyard. Good things happen to good people and it was really nice he kept that wonderful pea gravel for you. It was meant to be.
    Kris

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  10. Oh, how I love that path....it fits perfectly in your backyard surrounded by all those lovely hydrangeas:-) I eat almost every meal outside when the weather allows in the Summer. There is just something about hearing the birds chirp and bees buzz.

    Enjoy your week!

    xoxo
    Kathleen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay, I'm not the only one! Thanks Kathleen : )

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  11. not sure if anyone has told you, but since you love the colors of hydrangeas i thought i'd share...they can potentially come back different colors every year. it's something to do with the soil. and because of that i would think they might come back as the same color (so like even though you have different colors now since you bought them that way, next year they might all be blue or something.) my scientist friend told me the other day that you can manipulate your soil though! so you might want to look into that :)

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    Replies
    1. Sounds like a really fun science experiment! Thanks for the tip Taylorcait!

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  12. My favorite flower has just put out her first bloom - Bee Balm. I love it's look, and especially how it tastes - so sweet.

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    Replies
    1. Did you say "tastes"? Okay, definitely Googling this one later, lol!

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  13. Way to go! That was so much work and everything looks beautiful.

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  14. I love pea gravel! I love hydrangeas! I love eating outdoors! I think that about covers it LOL! Beautiful colors and no, it isn't wrong to want to plant each variety and color! Enjoy your lovely "new" yard! Hugs, Leena

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    1. Thanks Leena, glad to hear it's not just me : )

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  15. Ok - I have pea gravel envy! and you know I am hydrangea obsessed too. We just yanked out a bunch of ugly bushes along our front porch for more hydrangeas!!
    Enjoy!

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    Replies
    1. Whatcha doin? Just making room for more hydrangeas...love it Dawn : )

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  16. I think EVERYone loves hydrangeas...what's NOT to love ?? Yours are just beautiful...
    Your pea path is just magnificent.

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  17. Oh my goodness Jennifer, you two are brave to do all that! Your yard is going to be a heavenly haven when you finish it up! Already so pretty! Congrats!

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  18. Oh my gosh, I was driving through the Grapevine when that fire was raging. The sky was beautiful but it was very ominous and nerve racking {my house burned down in the fires of '03 so I get high anxiety when I see that} So thankful no lives were lost. The pea gravel guy? Amazing. So nice of him to hold it for you, and the sweat and back breaking work you guys did, wow thats amazing too! The yard is just beautiful, and I too love hydrangeas hydrangeas but mine never look as good as yours! Great job.

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  19. I am back from vacation and catching up on blogging. I have to tell you that one of the very best things about pea gravel walkways (to me) is the crunching sound under foot when you walk. Yours looks just fabulous and I am so glad the guy waited for you! xo Diana

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  20. Jen, It's gorgeous!! I absolutely love pea gravel. What is it about that crunch crunch sound that makes me feel like I'm in France?

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  21. Jen, It looks gorgeous!! I love pea gravel. What is it about that 'crunch crunch' sound that always makes me feel like I'm in France?

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  22. we have four hydrangea plants in our backyard, and they are the best. If you love them, you should also look into Snowball bushes. They offer great privacy as they can grow quite large (and quickly). They are usually early spring bloomers, so you can have fluffy white flowers in the spring, with hydrangeas blooming right after :) My other favorite is English lavender. I keep adding more of that in. I'd love to dry our clothes on it in the summer when they are big enough! Shasta daisies also look great en masse. Have fun decorating outside!!! it's so worth it!

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