If you visit the Drake Built Projects garage, you are likely to see sparks flying and hear Metallica or maybe 311 playing on the radio. Chris Drake, the owner of Drake Built, loves working with steel, desert motorcycle racing, and a cold beer at the end of the day. I’ve known Chris for over a dozen years. First, as the delivery and install driver at Civano Nursery, then as a foreman at Casa Blanca Horticulture, and finally as the owner of his own metal fabrication business. In those years, I’ve learned that Chris is a stickler for details, cares about good design and quality, and lives by his word. Working with him is always a pleasure and I’m thankful to have someone I can refer with such confidence.

For the Growdown! space, Chris has probably put in more hours than anybody except me. He has enthusiastically embraced my vision for the Growdown! garden space. If the Zona Gardens Growdown! garden has a heart of silver plants, it has a backbone of steel. The design for the garden has a series of steel wall panels, shelves for pots, a circular raised steel planter and a truly impressive 205 lbs. chiminea/grill. I drew the design for the chiminea awhile back but we never got around to building a prototype. So, when we were selected for the Growdown! we thought it was a perfect time to fabricate it. Santa Rita Steel donated the plasma cutting and Chris put it together, included custom grill handles.

Awhile back, Chris and I went in on a bunch of plasma cut steel drop panels (what is left after parts are cut from steel sheets). We’ve used many of them on many trellises for clients, but two nice sheets with circular cutouts remained. We chose these in order to fashion steel shelves from the cutouts that will hold Debra Raeber pots.