This week I’ve been shopping for something special. It has to be the perfect cut and colour for the sharp designer look I’m going for. Was I in Selfridges? No girlfriend, I was in a muddy stone quarry under a flyover to the Dartford Tunnel.

Gauged widths-random lengthsI’m shopping for stone; specifically an evenly-coloured, creamy sandstone for a terrace I’m laying in North London for a young couple who want a clean, light entertaining space.

As long as the price is right, I’m going for a sawn sandstone from India, laid with gauged widths and random lengths to give a contemporary look.

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Stone cannot be made – it exists… All who create landscape have a great responsibility, for they form the space in which we live.” is the almost spiritual statement on the website of CED, the stone merchants I visit to procure the perfect sandstone.

This family business supplies a huge range of stone to architects and landscapers, and I love that all their staff have a real enthusiasm and appreciation for these materials formed over millennia and carefully quarried and shipped from all over the world to dress the gardens and streets around us.

And with their kind permission, I spent a happy hour wandering round the old quarry, running my hands over the riven surfaces of honeyed york stone, stacks of Welsh slate and glistening granite boulders… and pinching a few small scraps for my samples drawer.

I know, it’s not the shoe department at Selfridges. It’s so much better than that.

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About CED: