Sunday, August 21, 2005

Stone walls

I built a stone wall today (that's not it in the photo). Well, a "wall" actually implies something large. I'm not certain that a "wall" around a semi-circular shade garden qualifies. This small garden surrounds the large Bradford pear tree just off the deck. Nothing grows in this sunless spot, so I made it into a shade garden. It's always been in dire need of something to hold it in. Plastic edging was the choice the first year. It lasted about a year and a half. The last half of the season last year and this summer the garden has had no walls. As a result, it hasn't had much in the way of plants either - you know, kids, erosion, varmints...

So, as the growing season winds down, I've prepared this latest object of my affection for next year. Now, the premade, concrete blocks of all the same size and shape are of no use to me. No, I need stone carved in shapes by the hands of God himself. So, we set off to the nursery to get just that. Well, I settled for some stones that had been modified ever so slightly by a Missouri road crew. These stones are rectangular in shape, but with enough crooked edges to give them character. They are a nice weathered shade of gray which allows them to stand out just enough, but not too much in the shade.

Building a stone wall is a rather relaxing endeavor - even in the 100 degree heat and humidity of late summer. Digging the border, getting it just level enough to match the uneven contour of each stone, finding just the right match for the next spot so that there are no gaping holes. It's all quite therapeutic. No one builds real stone walls anymore. You get the Home Depot precast squares, all the same sterile color and shape. Sometimes you see a 100+ year old stone wall in a field in New England. These days, most houses are fenced by some nasty-looking wooden privacy fence, or a white picket fence made of, you guessed it, vinyl. Awful. Wouldn't life be much better if everyone had a stone wall instead? Imagine being able to enjoy your neighbor's garden, and their neighbors' flowers, too. Robert Frost said that good fences make good neighbors. I suspect he had stone walls in mind.

No comments: