Friday, June 13, 2008

Stone Walk in the Woods

There is nothing much more beautiful than a stone path in the woods. I was reminded of this by a recently published book : The Art and Craft of Stonescaping: Setting and Stacking Stone, by David Reed. Just starting to browse the book. In particular it is about dry stacked stone. No cement, just stone stacked up to be as solid as possible. Probably with soil behind it for planting. You can set such a wall easily, though it will probably heave during freezes in our climate. It is continual work, not like mowing the lawn.

Over many years I have hand dragged stone up from a stream bed, maybe a hundred feet below the back garden. Probably a few tons. The size of stones I could deal with are relatively small, mostly twenty pounds or so, larger ones would be more stable, in particular at least an assortment of 'capstones' to tie things together. But that would add to the ache in my knees. I don't gather stone any more, but now I have a great deal of stone for the gardens. They can and have been placed and re-placed.

The picture here is a dated photo of the path to the back pergola. It no longer looks like that, poor choices of ground cover have filled in much of that area and it needs machete work to restore it to that state. My stone work is pretty simple. The stone here is Ordovician limestone, often covered with fossils from a 400 million year old sea, when things were much warmer here. The glacier from 12 thousand years ago stopped roughly in our back yard and deposited the stone and carved the stream that chopped up the former sea bed.

When I have traveled I always look for a good dry laid wall. Even a short piece of wall is an inspiration.

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