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Finding Just the Right Stone

Wide, flat rocks with rounded edges: that's what I wanted for the path I was building. Hard to find in fields and hedgerows, even though I'm used to rock scouting. I start visiting dealers.

These are not quarries, but businesses that sell a variety of stone, from all over. I'm fascinated by the colors and textures, the shapes of natural rocks, the endless possibilities of cut stone for both landscaping and interior uses. Small stones, graded by size, for mulch, paths, driveways and play areas — also with a choice of color....

I end up at the Colonial Stoneyard, in Groton. Run by Joan and Jerry Croteau, it's big — 20 acres — but tucked away in the woods, with the working yard sprawled in two large clearings. Jerry started as a landscaper; he built stonework as well as installing plants. In his back yard he kept a small nursery, and some stone, to have a selection. Eventually the stone collection took over from the plants.

In a golf cart Joan takes me around the yard, telling stories: where each kind of stone came from, what people use them for....

I find my path rocks: they come from the beds of streams in Pennsylvania; I have to wait till the spring floods are over, before they can be gathered. They arrive stacked on wooden pallets, held on with chicken wire. Many kinds of rock are packaged this way; others are loose: fieldstones tumbled in gigantic piles; huge blocks of aged, salvaged granite laid in neat rows.

In the middle of the plain dirt surface of the working lot, a miniature gardened hill rises, displaying stone walls and stairs, benches, paving, edging, birdbaths, statuary, house-number markers, mailbox and light pillars — all in their proper setting: with plants.

Further on, a scale is built into another small rise: I drive onto it; a green traffic light signals they've recorded the empty weight of my car. Then I climb piles to find stones for a wall. A strong young man lifts them into my car, and I drive back to get weighed again.

Most of their clientele place an order, and the Croteaus put it together and deliver it. Most places don't have a huge inventory you can wander around looking through. But if like me, you want to find just the right pieces, this is the place.

© Copyright 2003 Catherine Holmes Clark


Published in the six Nashoba Publishing papers on Friday, 15 August 2003

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For more information see The Colonial Stoneyard's website.