My house is built into a slope and I have very few flat areas in the garden. I recently designed, and at this very moment I am having built, a patio at the back of our house just off the porch. A few years back I had a dry stone retaining wall built off this porch that reaches a height of about 5-6’ feet. The new blue stone patio comes off of this wall at the back of our house facing the view. What I like about the new patio is how it anchors the house. Unlike stone or brick houses, clapboard houses appear light in the landscape – as if they could float away, but already the blue stone slabs gives the house a solidity it did not have.
Plants are fragile as the spring has shown us, but unlike plants stonework withstands the harsh weather that gets thrown at it. In fact weather enhances the stone with lichens and mosses, that visually softens and melds it with the landscape it belongs to.
Jeff, the stone mason told me he was bringing about 11 tons of stone into my garden for 3 new projects. Talk about adding a little weight to the garden!
I added a stone walkway at the side of the house too –an area off the Big leaf room. It is an important transition space between the front and back gardens. There was quite a slope walking through a series of 4 hedged borders of Rhamnas ‘Fineline.’ The new 3’ foot walk way is now a sure footed place to walk.
I remember reading the Garden designer, Ellen Biddle Shipman, who after years of designing gardens came to the conclusions that to flatten out and alter the natural movement of land was to rob it of its poetry. I agree with this statement, however you do need safe places to walk and sit and stone work is a way to achieve this, in moderation.