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Gravel Gardening Traditions

I was keen to explore the gravel more. Get my hands  on the rock thingness to see what the stones could do for me.

I thought I was a bit out there as covering so much of your domestic real estate with gravel isn't the done thing. But there is one site -- ecologica -- which made me feel better about my radicalism.  Similarly a research paper on how the people of Easter Island/Rapa Nui -- deployed stone mulch  to grow their vegetables -- made me think that there is logic -- ecological logic -- in gravel gardening.

There is tradition in the method -- a tradition that has been both lost and misunderstood.

The Easter islanders were desperate to protect and sustain their crops.  The stone friendly Italian gardening method offered by ecologica are reminiscent of  the gardens that could be found  in inner city Melbourne or Sydney  in the wake of migration of Southern Italians to Australia.However, cement -- and in my experience locally, plenty of it -- ruled over gravel.

Today the green mythic preference is driven by Permaculture archetypes born in the ecology of the rain forest. But the Italians -- gardening in low water condition for centuries -- developed a  different take on garden design and domestic agriculture.

So I reckon the stones can tell us a thing or two about sustainability.

I'm all ears.

For the moment (see above image) I'm a newbie in the laying of the stones. Other stoned gardens I've seen embrace gravel as a textural palate and try to lay down contrasting sizes, hues and shapes for sculptural effect. It's  a sort of pretend desert vogue.

But that's not the way of it at all. The 'rockery' habits imported from the United States over the years have tended to obscure the underlying ecological...logic. The stereotypical 'rock garden' has done gravel a diservice.

In the UK, Beth Chatto's template for gravel gardens  seems to only embrace the logic in a sort of half arced mode -- aspiring to look like something that is trying to be exotic --without embracing unconditionally and 'organically ' the underlying raison d'etre. (Such as the way gravel was used by the Cottagers)

But that's the point, I think -- the issue that bugged me: do the pebbles belong? Will they serve me as I hope?


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