If These Walls Could Talk

Stone Wall in New Preston in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Stone wall in New Preston (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

As the layers of foliage fall away abandoning the tree limbs, a new aspect of the landscape is revealed; one with walls of stone meandering across its hills and valleys.  Whether formidable structures or crumbling piles, they crisscross heavily wooded acres in patterns reminiscent of boundary markers.

Stone Wall in New Milford in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Stone Wall in New Milford (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Centuries ago, these formations dominated the landscape.  They were prominent features on the then treeless areas used for farmland.  Now, you can’t venture far into a New England forest without coming upon (tripping over) an abandoned stone wall.  And as these ancient treasures are exposed, I can’t help but ponder their history . . . (who built them, what were their circumstances, what was their life like?) . . .  in other words, I wish these walls could talk.

Mine Hill granite cliff in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Mine Hill granite cliff (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

As farming practices increased in New England, so did the need for fencing.  Initially the wooden rail fence was popular, but as wood became scarce, by the mid to late 1700’s stone became the preferred choice of building materials.  It is estimated that by the late 1800’s approximately 20,000 miles of fencing were made of stone.  Most stone was found on the property, brought to the land by glaciers and heaved up through the soil, while some had to be drilled or mined and brought to the landowner.  Granite, limestone and gneiss were the most common stones used in New England walls as they were the most prevalent. By the 19th century, stone walls were commonly used for creating borders and containing livestock.

Rear patio with mix of stone types in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

My rear patio with mix of local stone (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Nowadays, we enjoy stone walls as decorative and structural elements on our property.  We use them to draw emphasis and contrast to an otherwise unremarkable area.  When constructed without mortar, they make wonderful raised garden beds where wandering plants can explore cracks and crevices.  And they can still be used to mark a perimeter or to safely contain our pets.  No matter the use we choose, whether heirloom or newly constructed, our stone walls are treasures to be cherished and preserved for the generations to come.

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Comments

  1. What a great article- I never thought of the stone walls…..

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