The Lucky Gardener

Rolling (and Tumbling) Stones
July 30, 2010, 19:04
Filed under: bluestone, garden design, masonry, patios

I’m always on the look out for new and exciting products to include in my garden designs.

So, when I got an invitation to tour a new manufacturing facility at one of my stone supplier’s quarry, I didn’t think twice about making the 6 hour roundtrip journey. It isn’t often something new comes from out of the earth, especially when the products are made from eons-old stone.

What I found at the site was incredible. Here, among the rolling Pennsylvania hills, was a massive operation of quarrying and creating stone products, with inventiveness that went far beyond the typical patio slabs sold in every local stone yard and home center.

I was lead through a series of five buildings involved in the process of turning chunks of rock into delicate patio, wall, curbing, benches and veneer products.
The last building of the tour contained two machines. The first was a tumbler that rivaled the size of a subway car. Within it, large and small pieces of rock were tumbled with water and stone grit to soften their edges and surfaces – creating stone that resembled broken pieces of well-worn beach glass. (see photos)


The size of the second machine was insane. a stone-cutter, larger than anything I’d seen in my years hanging around such places. Had the magnitude of the operation somehow been lost on me thus far, this close encounter with the colossal stone cutting blade, suspended from an immense hydraulic carriage, erased any such possible ignorance.

I was, at first, almost afraid to approach the eleven and a half foot diameter disc, with its hundreds of ear-sized diamond blades. Once I got comfortable being the David to this Goliath, fascination and admiration washed through me. I began imagining the potential for including its products in my designs. We finally made friends as I posed with it to fully reveal its magnitude. (see photo)

I am accustomed to being around large and loud machines but I wasn’t prepared for the massive scale of equipment this company used to make their unique natural stone products. If you’ve ever wondered why buying rocks is so expensive, consider the multi-million dollars of equipment a business has to invest in order to make the stones for your projects.

Look at the different colors of these beautiful bluestone slabs.