In the Garden -November/December 2007

Designing with Stone

by: Lucy Apthorp Leske

photography by: Nicole Harnishfeger

Nantucket is no Easter Island. There are no ancient stone monoliths or cave paintings here. Regurgitated by a glacier when it fled to colder climates 10,000 years ago, Nantucket is nothing but a pile of sand and gravel, an afterthought, a wad of jetsam spit from the glacier’s mouth after scraping and sliding its way south.

The granite boulders, towering mountains and dry-laid stone walls of New England are hundreds of miles away. Stone was neither a building material here nor a backdrop when settlers first arrived. As the island becomes more diverse in its people and plants, however, another immigrant is making its way into our midst. Stone is slowly filling our yards and gardens and quietly gaining a foothold here over centuries of construction.

As one of the most enduring and popular garden materials, stone is valued by gardeners and landscapers alike for its texture, durability, low maintenance and permanence. We may never see the likes of the stone walls that lace landscapes throughout the rest of the region, but we are certainly seeing them with more frequency across the island. It may be that one day, when Nantucket finally erodes into the sea, all that will be left on the bottom among the fish will be piles of rocks. Martian archeologists will visit the planet in thousands of years and wonder, like the Easter Islanders, how the heck we did it.

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