by germinatrix | May 23rd, 2011
Stone is fancy.
I am not.
Well, I DO like the finer things in life, but when it comes to one of the most coveted materials in the garden designer’s palette – stone – I must admit to liking mine cheap and easy, tiny and fast. Mortarless. I love gravel. Pebbles. Grit! I love everything about it, and use it in almost every garden I do.
When I was a little girl, I would collect the prettiest pebbles and pretend they were a huge pile of jewels. My friends and I would play Treasure Cave, and when the game was over and we were called home we’d throw the stones down back onto the driveway. The jewels became gravel again, but the next day, if we were up for another game of Treasure Cave, they would be ready to morph right back into rubies and emeralds and diamonds.
Pebbles, or gravel, are democratic. You don’t need a degree in design to use it well. You don’t need to be a contractor to install it. In fact, you can pretty much throw it down and you have yourself a patio, or a path, or a mulch, or a top dressing for pots, or a way to keep your candles upright in your homemade hurricane lamps …
Gravel is smart. Economical. It is a permeable surface, meaning water percolates through it into our soil and stays on site rather than being collected on large expanses of hard surface and then channeled through a series of drains into our waterways.
Were you like me when you were a child? Did you collect small stones and pebbles as treasures? Did you pretend they were rubies or sapphires or diamonds? I still feel the same way about them. Even though they are common rock, I believe in their power to change a space by adding color and texture to the zones of visual rest. And they can still mesmerize. The other day I saw an older woman standing in my Hellstrip, collecting some of my small dark polished stones. At first I thought – “NO! MINE!”, but when I saw how carefully she was choosing, how she would fondle some and toss others aside until she had a small handful, well – how could I begrudge her a small handful of rocks? I understood the pleasure they brought her. I wonder what she did with them.
I always joke around that I am the kind of garden designer that likes to throw down gravel and then plant the hell out of a space. I realize that it is no joke. I’m not likely to use stone trucked in from someplace far away – and if I do use flags or pavers, you can be sure I am going to be sweeping my latest favorite gravel in between the stones. Maybe the children that live or play in the space will pretend the pebbles are jewels, just like I did.
XOXO Your Germinatrix
You know the drill! Follow the links around the country and see what my talented colleagues have to say about STONE!