Words by Benjamin Crouch. Photos by Stacey Vaeth.
A garden is never a complete thing. It is subject to the mechanical forces of weathering, which carve and settle it over years, decades and–with the hope of legacy–much, much longer. Living things grow, morph, displace, play host, reproduce, senesce, and die. Each colors, textures, and forms its space in the garden in an unceasing process. Therefore, one might crave a sense of the durable and augment the garden with objects that change little, at least in our ability to perceive.
Stone is durable. Stones still mark the furthest conquests of the Romans who laid them. Mayan stone yet frames the borders of the ancient landscapes of the civilization’s habitations. Worn, yes, but marking a place that might yet be recognizable to its former inhabitants were they to visit it now.
In the trivial scale of our own experience stone can appear immutable. A garden well-decorated in stone and matured for decades would yet be known to its maker. We use stone to craft the borders of our garden, pave its paths, and level our places to view it. A terrace of stone is setting for plants to drape or pedestal for a remarkable specimen. Stone is a necessary companion to the shade garden. It can be set in order to formalize, or, naturalize a space, depending on its placement and architecture. Let’s look at some examples, then, of the merits of stone.