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Permaculture rocks - no, I mean actual rocks

 
gardener
Posts: 950
Location: Galicia, Spain zone 9a
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Burra Maluca wrote:



Yep. That is one hell of a rock! I assume it is an erratic? We get them in Galicia but only in really inconvenient places...
 
pollinator
Posts: 2423
Location: Meppel (Drenthe, the Netherlands)
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Burra Maluca where's that lovely tiny house with the big rock? Is it possible to live in it (maybe to stay there during a holiday)?
 
steward
Posts: 1177
Location: Pacific North West
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Loved all the pictures and ideas.

I am looking for more uses for river rock. Unfortunately, this kind is the only one we have around here.

A few weeks ago we had rain that didn’t stop for two days straight, so the creeks flooded more than I’ve seen it in 10 years. The kind that changes the creek bed. So it deposited a bunch of rock in one spot, and I would love to put some of it to good use.

In my mind though, the problem with using rock in our climate - Pacific North West- is that if you leave anything on the ground, it will be covered by grass in one season. I lost t-posts that way☺️.

 
pollinator
Posts: 2869
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Do you have a pic of the bedroom rock? I wanna see!!!
 
gardener
Posts: 1552
Location: Longbranch, WA Mild wet winter dry summer
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Liv Smith wrote:Loved all the pictures and ideas.

I am looking for more uses for river rock. Unfortunately, this kind is the only one we have around here.
In my mind though, the problem with using rock in our climate - Pacific North West- is that if you leave anything on the ground, it will be covered by grass in one season. I lost t-posts that way☺️.


Besides the dirt wall covering pictured earlier I have a path where I laid out the larger round stones first and tamped them down into the mud after the grade was bulldozed. then I tamped smaller stones in the spaces in between. Occasional grass comes up and last week a crocus that got buried in the process bloomed. but overall the path has been stable and dry to walk on for repeated winters. There is still a heap of rocks beside the wall that need to be tamped in to extend the path and it has remained grass free but some tall growing plants have come through like columbine.
 
pollinator
Posts: 164
Location: Ashland Ky
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I use rocks in the strawberry patch to prevent the plants from getting washed away in rain storms. It works really well and they get more benefit from the slowed down water and have earlier growth im assuming from the thermal battery of the rocks.
 
Posts: 44
Location: Montrose, United States
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Well there was this "BIG" one when we were putting in the pond that just called out to be a diving rock....or an excellent casting point when fishing...and the heron seems to really like it when he's not skulking in the shallows....now and then ( if the water gets high enough ) even the turtles find their way onto it for some sun. All in all it's turned out to be a very useful rock.
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A very convenient rock....heavy bugger, but well worth the effort.
A very convenient rock....heavy bugger, but well worth the effort.
 
gardener
Posts: 1179
Location: North Carolina zone 7
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A very small herb spiral I made.
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snall herb spiral with rocks and pots
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[Thumbnail for 8FE53E53-4FD2-40E6-8D43-47E79CD91786.jpeg]
 
Posts: 37
Location: San Cristóbal, Chiapas, Mexico
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:I don't have rocks at my home property; so I'm importing tons of broken concrete. Retaining walls, pond edging, etc.


I logged on today to look for sustainable options for our retaining walls... the architects, normally very eco+conscious cob and dry bog enthusiasts, are suggesting natural rock. But here that means rock quarried straight out of the hillside. Not great.  
 
Scott Stiller
gardener
Posts: 1179
Location: North Carolina zone 7
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Dry stack fire pit and a large herb spiral.
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pollinator
Posts: 222
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We've been digging a new sunken bed in our garden area alongside the pre-existing greywater bed (where the tires are; the white PVC pipes are part of the greywater filtration system), mesquite nurse tree (surrounded by Lyceum pallidum transplants that you can't see in the shadow of our relocated shade structure), and herb bed (surrounding a buried irrigation olla). To keep the edges of the herb bed and part of the greywater bed from crumbling into the new bed while we work to fill it with mulch, I shored them up with rocks from our archery meadow. I like it so much that I may have to figure out a way to keep the rocks showing once the new bed is mulched! Turns out I kinda like stacking rocks.

The rest of you have such lush herb spirals and... what? Green grass?! Here in the desert we're immensely proud of and grateful for whatever is still green -- especially the edible weeds we encourage -- as we enter the hot, dry, windy late spring and early summer. A few well-placed rocks can definitely mean the difference between no surviving green and bits of surviving green here and there. That is, as long as we keep the rodents and ants at bay somehow! Everyone loves shelter.
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rocks shoring up garden beds April 2020
rocks shoring up garden beds April 2020
 
Posts: 19
Location: Olney, Maryland
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Tracy's a rock star. I am coming to this party 3 some years after posted but it came in my email feed. I use stone for many things around my garden and yard. I use stones dug up from the soil as draining in potting containers. I also have a fieldstone path from my patio to my composting area. Recently put down river stone over an area where I used to have shrubs just as a place holder next to the garage I may get some livestock water tanks and do some container gardening in these. Also have some nice 2' X 2' red filed stone pavers that I am thinking about where I may need a new path or mud free work area. I have photos that I attached as files but I need to figure out a new photo app for image sharing.

Mike Love



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River stone as ground cover
River stone as ground cover
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Fieldstone path to compost
Fieldstone path to compost
 
Posts: 145
Location: Near Libby, MT
55
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We live on gravel. Every shovelful brings up fist sized, and larger, round rocks. I am told that when the glacier dams near Missoula broke, as they did frequently, huge walls of water would roll rocks up  over and between our mountains. Anyway, like I said, they are round and look like river rock. And as someone pointed out above, we get a fresh crop every spring.

Initially, as we were building, we piled them up between pine trees next to the driveway. Later we put them in cylindar shaped wire cages, ran two by fours between them for fencing along the upper edge of the roof garden. (My girlfriend was sure that I would fall off the edge.) Lots of people here build these fences. And then we built a rock cylinder to mount the mailbox. I used several to line a rain ditch from the garage gutter down to where I had planted a maple tree.

My great granddaughters like to make Cairns in Libby Creek and we find great numbers of them there and further up in mountain streams.
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The girls building Cairns in Libby Creek
The girls building Cairns in Libby Creek
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Large rocks to keep people from driving over the edge.
Large rocks to keep people from driving over the edge.
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One stretch of fence at roof garden edge
One stretch of fence at roof garden edge
 
pollinator
Posts: 278
Location: Italian Alps, Zone 8
133
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I love rocks! We have lots of them here and building walls and houses with them is part of the traditional landscape, although it has been slightly forgotten over the last decades.
Our garden is filled with rocks and we have stone wall terraces that are in need of reconstruction, so we’d love to learn how to build with them. The original part of our watermill is still a stone construction, made from the rocks they pulled from the rock cliff the house is built against.
I had already made a simple flower bed out of a pile of large boulders, but that consisted mostly out of removing rocks and replacing it with soil.
However we were very fortunate to participate in a communal course where the locals of our village could participate in restoring a storm damaged dry stack wall in exchange for learning the techniques while doing it (and drinking wine and eating sandwiches underneath the chestnut trees! Ah what a lovely day it was!). It was such a great learning experience, and I’m eager to apply our newly learned skills to our damaged dry stacked stone walls lining our terraces.
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The original fundament of our mill, including underground aquaduct
The original fundament of our mill, including underground aquaduct
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Old stack of rocks transformed into a flower bed for may lillies
Old stack of rocks transformed into a flower bed for may lillies
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Stone aquaduct underneath the mill. No idea where the aquaduct goes, though.
Stone aquaduct underneath the mill. No idea where the aquaduct goes, though.
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Beautiful overgrown entrance to a stacked stone root cellar we discovered in the mountains
Beautiful overgrown entrance to a stacked stone root cellar we discovered in the mountains
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Dry stacked wall and steps we made with a community course
Dry stacked wall and steps we made with a community course
 
Mother Tree
Posts: 11893
Location: Portugal
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We're still settling in to our new farm, which nestles on the foothills of the Gardunhas in Portugal. I thought I should share this photo of the terrace walls with you all.

The rock here is volcanic, I think consolidated volcanic ash known as tuff. It's relatively soft and can be worked fairly easily with hand tools. The hillside behind the house is terraced, and it seems that some terraces are cut out whilst others are constructed using the blocks of stone cut that were cut out of higher terraces.  The very top terrace here is ours. It's difficult to make out the scale, but they are full sized olive trees which you can stand underneath. The lower terraces belong to a neighbour, and we also own the terraces further down the slope, not in this photo, around the house.

 
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Ive seen pictures from Ireland, Scotland,English countrysides with beautiful border fences made from just the stone found on the field.
 
master pollinator
Posts: 395
Location: East of England
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My "someday" house in Bulgaria, with the yard surrounded by a low drystone wall. From the photos, it appears there's a lot more stone on the property probably the remains of old barns and outbuildings.
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Krasen stone fence
Krasen stone fence
 
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Hi. You could do a scratch test to see if it is definitely rock and not glass. It looks like aquamarine at first glance. If there are any beige spots or in proper light it is darker then it might be an apatite. So pretty!
 
master gardener
Posts: 4263
Location: southern Illinois, USA
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Hi Holly

Welcome to Permies.
 
Posts: 76
Location: Nikko, Japan Zone 7a-b 740 m or 2,400 ft
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Excellent idea starters. While I don't have that many rocks or that size of rocks (well, one, actually) I do have quite a lot for such a smallish property. One thing you said got me to thinking. Where I live, people are using round rocks to build walls and fences that have lasted through the ages.  Maybe you'll find some inspiration here:

https://morningchores.com/freestanding-stone-wall/

Not quite as attractive but certainly practical: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3inIJaeOg4

A very old fence made of round and flat rocks: https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/very-old-fence-made-round-flat-125824469

This tutorial on how to make a natural rock wall is making me salivate. Of course, I'll never do it -- I can barely lift a rock of the size shown here -- but the results are awesome! https://bestlife52.com/make/dry-stone-wall/

It seems that even contemporary Japanese rock gardens are rather formal -- and where do you get all those tiny white pebbles? Pretty, but not practical (unless you are a Japanese daimyo . . . )
https://www.lushome.com/rocks-japanese-gardens-buiding-rock-garden-backyard-designs
 
Posts: 2
Location: Forest Grove, United States
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I had not stopped thinking of all these rocks as items I had to deal with when I moved to this small -town house from my farm. But you have given me a chance to re-imagine them. And to just give myself the pleasure of enjoying them, treasure them, create with them.
Thank you very much. Robin
 
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very nice instructions.  I call them snake condominiums.
 
roberta mccanse
Posts: 145
Location: Near Libby, MT
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Who has built steps with rocks? I need a more stable way to get up to my roof top garden. Steps look complicated so this may not be the way to go, especially given that most of our rock here is round. Any ideas?
IMG_20200524_123449965.jpg
Taking tub uphill to garden.
Taking tub uphill to garden.
 
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We use rocks on our off grid property for landscape decoration, building materials for our decks, and our wood burning stove. We will also be lining the upper land part of the washes with large boulders.
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Posts: 7
Location: Zone 8b, Central Calif, Sierra Foothills
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About 10 years ago I plowed about 30 acres of my property with a Yeoman's plow.  It worked great, but it also pulled up an enormous amount of rock.  It was way too much for me to clean up on my own and some of the rocks were many hundreds of pounds in size, too big for me to move, so I hired a crew of 4 guys who, along with me and my tractor we cleaned all the rocks out of my pastures and into several large piles (see first picture below of my main pile), plus we used rocks from one particularly rocky pasture to build a 500 ft. long dry stack stone wall/fence line (picture).  Since then, I've used these rock piles as a permaculture resource.

The rocks have been really useful for jobs such as terracing to turn sloped ground into nice, level grow beds (pictures below of nut and fruit orchards).

The property contains two seasonal creeks and one of those has a road crossing with a culvert that would clog with rock and debris during big storms.  So I removed the culverts and filled the area in with rock to make a ford and held the road together on the down hill side with big rocks (see picture).  I also used large rocks to make a one rock dam on that same seasonal creek and after every big storm it collects a pile of sand and leaves: another nice resource (no picture, sorry).




RockStore.jpg
My main "rock store"; smaller rocks on left and big ones on right.
My main "rock store"; smaller rocks on left and big ones on right.
RockWall_Mickey.jpg
~500 ft. dry stack rock wall/pasture fence.
~500 ft. dry stack rock wall/pasture fence.
FruitOrchard.jpg
Rock terraces in fruit orchard.
Rock terraces in fruit orchard.
FruitOrchard2.jpg
Another view of rock terraces in fruit orchard.
Another view of rock terraces in fruit orchard.
FruitOrchard_Comfrey.jpg
Terraces with big rocks; notice comfrey around fruit trees to suppress grass & weeds.
Terraces with big rocks; notice comfrey around fruit trees to suppress grass & weeds.
NutOrchard_GabianInBack.jpg
Rock terrace in nut orchard; notice long gabian at rear protects orchard from flooding
Rock terrace in nut orchard; notice long gabian at rear protects orchard from flooding
Ford.jpg
Creek crossing Ford replaces culverts. Large rocks on down hill side hold road together during heavy creek flow.
Creek crossing Ford replaces culverts. Large rocks on down hill side hold road together during heavy creek flow.
 
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My Dad used his rocks to make a waterfall
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gardener
Posts: 2325
Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
638
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roberta mccanse wrote:Who has built steps with rocks? I need a more stable way to get up to my roof top garden. Steps look complicated so this may not be the way to go, especially given that most of our rock here is round. Any ideas?



Somebody posted his dry stacked stone steps made of dressed (ie squared off) stones, above on this very page. https://permies.com/t/80/56831/permaculture-projects/Permaculture-rocks-actual-rocks#1092778

I made just three steps up to a raised part of my greenhouse garden, shown on the previous page of this thread. But I used rounded stones, not very even, and they might not be very good for a long slope like you're dealing with.

Thank you all for resurrecting this thread! It's inspiring me to start collecting stones today, to make something in the long term.
 
roberta mccanse
Posts: 145
Location: Near Libby, MT
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I'm thinking that actual construction of stone steps is beyond me. Thanks for the connections. Maybe I will put up a hand railing on one side. There are raspberry bushes there.
 
Michele Marchese
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Beautiful work!
 
Barbara Manning
Posts: 76
Location: Nikko, Japan Zone 7a-b 740 m or 2,400 ft
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I am so stealing this idea!
Content minimized. Click to view
 
Barbara Manning
Posts: 76
Location: Nikko, Japan Zone 7a-b 740 m or 2,400 ft
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Yes, most of those stone fences are the results of clearing a field for planting. They'd dig up a rock and set it aside until there were enough rocks to mark off a field.
 
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Another but... it gets really hot here during the dry season... am afraid if I use the rocks to ring garden beds or trees, or as mulch, I might be creating a little oven.  Maybe there is something I am not understanding about the thermo dynamics of rock-mulching... ?

Careful placement of flatish stones abutting one another will retain moisture under the stones, creating a cooling effect and encouraging plants to grow between them. This method is effectively used in desert restoration projects to slow and disperse water events and has the added benefit of creating swaths of great fertility where the rocks live.
 
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My "Rock Room".
Lots of volcanic rocks here. Seem to have a lot of Iron, so I think they'll retain heat well.
Started a stem wall using a cob/adobe mixture as a morter. Since I've taken so long building this, I've gotten to observe how it holds up throughout the season.
So far, pretty well. Will probably convert to earth-bag at some height.
No heavy machinery so these rocks are "select hand-picked artisanal quality".. and I don't trip on them as much ; )
IMG_20210705_110610.jpg
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To me, the blue rocks look like "slag"... a man-made mineralized rock that is a byproduct of mining and melting of stone to get ores out of stone.  Plenty of gold mines are mining "invisible gold" (tiny dusts and seeds imbedded in solid rock).  The Rock is crushed, then "burnt" with non-gold material being melted and running off onto "slag piles", that can be shipped to rail-roads and other end-users for construction supports of various sorts.  Often the slag is glassy like yours, but sometimes it can be partly glassy and then have weird-shaped often rounded objects in it.  The color blue may suggest that the slag came from copper ore stoney area (think:  "Blue Ridge Mountains" have bluish colored boulders.  The slag stones are often found along railroad beds (or used to be when I was a kid) that the wooden slats under the rails would rest on.   I do not know any specific hardness factors with slags, nor chipping factors that may have to do with where it would and would not be put.  

Slag is often shipped in from far away places, usually by rail; then dumped at a rock dump site (for building materials) Company.  You know, plenty of dirt is sold that comes off construction sites. That dirt is stored at quarries that can also store "man-made or man-formed" stones (slag).  
 
master steward
Posts: 9244
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Mark, could you point me to the post that has the "blue rocks"?

I tried to find those rocks so that I could possibly ID those rocks.

Your post is the only one that mentions "blue rocks" that I can find.

There are naturally occurring blue-colored rocks.
 
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Here it is Anne.  Well the pictures didn't come along. Dang it.

Karen Donnachaidh wrote:Don't mean to hijack but there are "rock hounds" among us.
I found this rock in the gravel road in front of the house. The gravel source, I believe, is in Blue Ridge, VA.
I took a couple of pics. It's an inch by inch and a half, baby blue, vitreous, translucent, obsidian like. Any ideas?

 
Anne Miller
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Michelle, with your help, I found it.




https://permies.com/t/56831/permaculture-projects/Permaculture-rocks-actual-rocks#482569

It looks aqua though Karen says baby blue. It is a pretty rock.

I found a good site that has 12 rocks that are shades of blue so I will see what I can find.
 
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Sadly I cannot do any of that stuff since the neighbours frown on artistic arrangements plus a pile of rocks attracts snakes. I have already spotted 3 snakes in my garden, one reported by a neighbour and one spotted by my sisters-in-law. My neighbours will absolutely freak out of they come across any snake.

My departed cat Mittens{who pretend s to hunt but never catches anything} actually stepped in to chase the 20-inch yellow snake off. I am putting cat biscuits out for another live-in cat but so far no luck. I like fierce cats and it is very rewarding to get them to the point where I can rub their belly without getting bitten or scratched. Mittens was so besotted by cat biscuits that she would chase every encroaching stray cat off the property. I live in a housing estate surrounded by houses and roads. I have no idea where those snakes come from. What freaks me out would be to find small man-made piles of stones along a trail. I still haven't gotten over The Blair Witch Project.

Here is my contribution. It is as far as I dare push things. I am building an egg carton-earth raised bed in the background. The rocks come from walls that neighbours have torn down to replace with brick-cement. The original walls in the neighbourhood are the stone mosaic with a uniform line of mortar joining them. You can just about see it between the vertical white pipes. The pipes have 3 holes drilled at the base. I throw food remnants in the pipe to compost/decay. They are vermin proof. So far no smells or maggots escape. I have 3 dedicated pipes in a clay flowerpot especially for citrus rinds. The holes are for earthworm access.  The pot in the foreground has been repaired with hot-melt glue.

I reckon that skill is no longer around. That patch is cemented underneath. I bought river sand in the past to bury sugar cane stalks which had overgrown the entire garden. There was just no way to stack/burn them so I buried them. That is probably why termites made their home here. The extra sand ended up here and one day the tallest papaya plant we have ever had took root there.


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Anne Miller
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I found another post where Karen said someone told her that the rock might be fluorite.  I think that is the closest I have found.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluorite

The website that I am linking here has a section called Oxidized Zone Minerals.  That is where fluorite might be.

It was fun looking at all these blue rocks:

Dumortierite



Glaucophane



Sodalite



Oxidized Zone Minerals



Deeply weathered zones, especially those at the top of metal-rich rocks and ore bodies, produce many different oxides and hydrated minerals with strong colors. The most common blue/bluish minerals of this type include azurite, chalcanthite, chrysocolla, linarite, opal, smithsonite, turquoise, and vivianite. Most people will not find these in the field, but any decent rock shop will have them all.

Earthy to pearly luster; hardnesses 3 to 6.



Blue Rocks

It was also interesting to learn how man made rocks are made.
 
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We are in city, so rocks generally means broken concrete.  Useful nonetheless.   Just did this two days ago.
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Message for you sir! I think it is a tiny ad:
Our perennial nursery has sprouted!
https://permies.com/t/174246
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