1 My main circular driveway and all the many roads at Skylands are covered in crushed pink granite. Every year, it is collected and put away using a very systematic process.
2 This crushed pink granite is distinct to Mount Desert Island - it is a pink coarse-grained hornblende granite that contains the mineral, biotite.
3 Blake is one of my Maine grounds crew members, and my driveway expert. He prefers to use a leaf blower to start the process of blowing the pink gravel to the center of the roads. Here he is in my front circular driveway by my fern island.
4 Here, you can see the pink gravel all ready for pick up at the front of Skylands. The center island is made up of mostly fern species - the foliage looks so beautiful when the driveway is covered in pink.
5 The process of picking up all the gravel for winter storage takes about one week to complete. Along all the carriage roads, the gravel is blown to the center - first one side...
6 ... then the other. Each of the carriage roads is 12-feet across, and is covered with at least a couple inches of gravel.
7 Underneath the crushed pink granite is pure carriage road - built using layers of crushed rock, and several inches of crown for proper drainage, that are perfect for horse-drawn carriage rides, bicycling and walking.
8 Blake continued down every road to ensure all the gravel was blown to the center on both sides. This makes the process of collecting it much easier.
9 Then, Blake used a special attachment for a gas powered weeder to brush the gravel like a broom. It is a power sweep that helps get the caked in pink gravel pebbles off hard to reach areas of the carriage roads.
10 This step sweeps the gravel into a more narrow, more tidy line.
11 The attachment includes a large bristle brush and a protective shield, so debris doesn't fly up while in use.
12 Once all the pink gravel is moved to the center of the roads, a tractor with a front end loader attached, drives slowly down the road scooping up the gravel.
13 This shows why is it important to move all the gravel into the center of the carriage road in a neat and tidy pile. The process is very streamlined because the sides of the roads have been cleared.
14 As the tractor picked up the gravel, a truck moved slowly in front, and systematically, as the front end loader filled up, it emptied load after load of gravel into the truck ahead.
16 The gravel was then driven to the compost area for proper storage.
17 This is what my carriage roads looked like as each load of crushed pink gravel was picked up.
18 Blake likes to use a smaller vehicle - an all terrain vehicle - with a plow attachment, to push gravel at the intersections into the center of one of the roads.
19 This makes it a little easier, and saves a bit more time, when the bigger machinery picks it up.
20 Here was another very neat and tidy line of pink gravel waiting to be removed. I like to do this process before the leaves start to fall, so leaf debris doesn't get mixed in with the gravel. This also helps when the gravel is cleaned and redistributed in the spring.
21 The process continued for several days.
22 It is a tedious chore, but it preserves the beauty of the granite. And, it helps conserve the supply of stone - I usually get more gravel every couple of years instead of annually.
23 Here is the compost area where the gravel is stored for the winter.
24 In spring, the pink gravel will be sifted, washed and then laid down on the roads once again.
25 It is all part of the changing seasons and maintenance at my beautiful home, Skylands, in Seal Harbor, Maine.