Old Walls and Fences
Across Sonoma County lie historic relics that we pass and look at every day but rarely see. Walls and fences have been built over the ages to keep cattle and horses in, deer and other pests out, create privacy, and mark our territory: yours ends there – mine begins here.
Some date to the 20’s and 30’s, when Sonoma was a fruit basket and dairy to San Francisco, and there were far more orchards and pastures than vineyards. And some to the cowboy and Gold Rush days of the 18th century, when cattle grazing was widespread, and fields were first cleared of stone for those pastures and orchards. Those uprooted fieldstones were most naturally stacked without mortar into dry-laid walls at each property's boundary. Many of the old stone walls were constructed by Chinese workers who moved into the area at the end of the Gold Gush. In the same period these workers also built roads, bridges and hewed winery caves.
Materials can clue age: stone deeply covered in moss, axe-split posts, rusted barbed wire, weathered split rails, or rough-sawn boards laced with multi-hued lichen all point to walls and fences that could be decades and into centuries old.
These pieces of the past can inform our gardens' design: dry-laid stone, split redwood rail, rough-sawn board or even white picket can add a sense of history to our landscaping.
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