The Garden Guide

Book: A treatise on the theory and practice of landscape gardening, adapted to North America,1841
Chapter: Appendix.V. Note on Walks and Roads.

Color of gravel

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A word may be said here with regard to the color of gravel. Undoubtedly in almost all examples in the natural style of landscape gardening slate-colored gravel, the kind common in nearly all parts of the country, is much the most agreeable to the eye, being unobtrusive, just differing sufficiently with the soil to be readily recognised as artistical in its effect, while it harmonizes with the color of the ground, and the soft tints of vegetation. A thirst after something new has induced some persons, even in the interior, to substitute, at considerable cost, the white gravel of the sea-shore for the common pit or beach gravel. The change, we think, is, in point of taste, not a happy one. The strong white of this gravel, as the painters would say, disturbs the tone of a simply beautiful landscape, whose prevailing tints are those of the broad lawn and rich overshadowing trees; and the glare of these snowy white pebbles is not, we confess, so pleasing in our eyes as the cooler and more quiet color of the slate or grey gravel. When we add to this, that these sea-side pebbles seldom or never pack or become firm, it would appear very evident that they are far less suitable for walks than the common material. The only situation where this brilliant gravel seems to us perfectly in keeping, is in the highly artificial garden of the ancient or geometric style, or in the symmetrical terrace flower garden adjoining the house. In these instances its striking appearance is in excellent keeping with the expression of all the surrounding objects, and it renders more forcible and striking the highly artificial and artistical character of the scene; and to such situations we would gladly see its use limited.