Dovedale and bluestone, rope top and barley-twist are just four of the many classifications available to anyone who wants to use Victorian edging stones in their gardens. The Victorians were fond of decoration and embellishment, and ornate garden tiles and edging stones complemented their interest in filling their gardens with rockeries, rose gardens, vegetable patches and other projects that interested them.
Victorian tile materials
The massive increase in tile manufacturing from 1840 onward, made possible by a new process of clay tile production, made distribution cheap and easy across Britain. Many County Councils provided tiles in fired clay, or glazed or unglazed stone, to their local residents. Bluestone, or basalt, mined in Australia, is likely to have been shipped over to England, the stone being particularly suited to non-slip tiles and paving.
Purpose of garden tiles and stones
Edging stones and tiles gave a neat, defined edge to flower beds, paths and lawns, and were originally set into the ground with earth packed behind them to keep them upright. For Victorians filling their gardens with a range of different planting areas, the stones and tiles were means of defining and separating those areas to stop them from merging into one another.
Garden edging designs
In today's market, the most sought-after garden stone is the barley-top, or barley-twist, a slab of stone approximately 22.5 cm (9 inches) wide and 15 cm (6 inches) deep. The twist design along the top resembles the barley-twist, an old-fashioned confection. Other examples of design include a portcullis, rope twists, double- and triple-Gothic arches and round-top edging. Many of these stone designs were manufactured in response to the Victorian's love of quarried stone, and local kilns did good business in their immediate areas producing fired clay tiles stamped with their own designs.
Victorian edging stones and tiles are prized in the 21st century -- and many gardeners are interested in restoring these features to their landscape design. As of 2011, prices are, on average, £6 per tile, depending on their size and design. Reclamation and salvage yards do a brisk trade with Victoriana enthusiasts at home and abroad. Reproductions are also big business, although the market for these is not as extensive as that for the originals.