Highly Sprung

Terraces after 2 Wm


By whatever definition you choose to use, it is now officially Spring. Even though it may not feel like it.

But there has been some progress in the garden. In the company of my feathered friends last weekend I finished clearing up the terraces below the house. We are on a significant slope and currently this is about the only ‘flat’ bit of garden there is.


Terraces before 2 Wm


A couple of weeks ago it looked like this, so it is an improvement!


The most noticeable change, perhaps, is the removal of the large hydrangea, bottom right. Boy, was it was big. Almost taller than me. Last year we’d moved its mate, so knew what we were in for. Or so we thought. At first things seemed to be going quite well. Mike attached a rope to the hydrangea and a winch to the nearest tree. As I pumped the winch, he forked around the roots until we had it free of the soil. But could we then shift it? Not a chance. With the winch reattached we manage to haul it as far as the steps..

..drop it part way into a wheelbarrow

..the barrow has started to tip

..just my foot stopping it from careering down the hill

..tempers are getting frayed

..and with some inevitability, my foot gives way.

The barrow skids down the concrete path and collapses in a heap at the bottom. Its wheel has assumed a jaunty angle and the axle appears to have sheared. It’s not looking good.  The hydrangea was supposed to be going UP the hill. Up onto the bank behind the house. Not 12 feet further down. Mike is surveying the large heap of twigs now at rest in the middle of the lawn: “Has the thing got any chance of surviving?” I too am on the point of giving up.

But we’ll have one more try. To lighten the load Mike hacks more soil off what is left of the roots. I chop the top hamper back by half. Between us, somehow, we get it into the spare wheelbarrow..

..back up the steps

..along the path in front of the house

..Mike pulls, I push

..on up the steep drive (two rest breaks along the way).

At the appointed place, all energy spent, gravity comes into play. The plant is tipped out unceremoniously and rolls down the slope. With a final heave it plops straight into the hole.


Hydrangea moved 1 Wm


If this one survives it really WILL be a miracle.


2017-11-10T17:23:44+00:00March 21st, 2013|Tags: |


  1. Countryside Tales March 21, 2013 at 12:28 pm - Reply

    You made a fatal error Jessica- you didn’t ask the plant first if she minded being moved. An old friend who is a gardener tells a similar tale of two plum trees- he said he knew they were going to be trouble when at his approach they took on a stance that he described as “silent and mutinous with arms crossed in front of them”. Several hours and many scratches later he had them installed in their new plot. Despite such unpromising beginnings they haven’t looked back. Hope the Hydrangea learns to be equally content in her new house.

    • Jessica March 21, 2013 at 5:31 pm - Reply

      Ha Ha.. great story! I know just how he felt.

  2. snowbird March 21, 2013 at 3:14 pm - Reply

    Oh my….I’m laughing out loud here! I can sympathize with this as I’ve often found myself in the exact same situation!
    I hope after all that it does survive, they are incredibly tough, so fingers crossed.
    Your wheel barrow tale reminded me of a time when hubs and I where walking down the canal to our narrow boat with all our worldly goods on a wheelbarrow. The wheel stuck a strange poise and tipped everything into the canal, including the boat keys, hubs wallet, my handbag, all our clothes, food, dogfood…….a nightmare it was!!!

    I do like the way your garden is stepped and I can really see the difference! Excellent!xxxxx

    • Jessica March 21, 2013 at 5:40 pm - Reply

      Oh my goodness!! A nightmare is an understatement… what on earth did you do?

      • snowbird March 21, 2013 at 7:18 pm - Reply

        Well, a nice boater lent us his magic magnet brick which eventually pulled the boat keys out, and hubs wallet floated to the surface so after a little wading that was retrieved. Some of our clothes floated to the surface too, but we lost all our food and dogfood, all our shoes, my make-up, all our bedding and coats…..it was a disaster and we spent most of that first day drying out and bickering….as you do!!!! lol xxxxx

        • Jessica March 21, 2013 at 7:23 pm - Reply

          Oh poor you, not a good start… and yes, I can sympathise re the bickering!

  3. Jill Chandler March 21, 2013 at 3:40 pm - Reply

    Just tell it it is growing well every time you hurtle past .

    • Jessica March 21, 2013 at 5:43 pm - Reply

      It’s getting off to a good start anyway.. being well watered from on high.

  4. Pats. March 21, 2013 at 4:37 pm - Reply

    Love your garden, especially the terraces which look all ready to go for Spring. Ours is sandy and flat….ish, good rabbit digging country!
    You made me chuckle greatly; ahhh, the memories, if you’d been a bit nearer we would have lent you our ‘dinky’ (Cat) from the yard which gets roped these days every time something big wants moving, hope you had a nice hot bathe and a reviving drink to help you recover!!

    • Jessica March 21, 2013 at 5:55 pm - Reply

      Hi Pats and welcome to rusty duck!
      We’ve a huge amount to do in the garden – its a jungle. Lots more shrubs that have grown too big… I’d like to try and save them if poss. Perhaps we should look at hiring a ‘dinky’!

  5. BadPenny March 21, 2013 at 4:38 pm - Reply

    Sorry Snowbird but I can’t stop giggling at your comment !
    I think the Hydrangea will survive ! Last summer we needed to remove three tall deadish shrubs. Husband tied a rope to the truk & then to the towbar of his car. He exclaimed that he liked 4 wheel gardening !
    You’ve done a good job there.

    • Jessica March 21, 2013 at 5:57 pm - Reply

      That’s another way of doing it!!

  6. Denise March 21, 2013 at 4:46 pm - Reply

    It seems you have a particularly stubborn and robust plant there, Jessica. I am sure she will survive! Deepest respect for your sterling efforts.

    • Jessica March 21, 2013 at 5:58 pm - Reply

      Mike would say it must take after its owner.

  7. Simone March 21, 2013 at 6:15 pm - Reply

    It never seems such hard work when Monty Don does it!!!

    • Jessica March 21, 2013 at 6:59 pm - Reply

      Perhaps Monty Don’s team of gardeners dig it up first!!!

  8. Vintage Jane March 21, 2013 at 6:19 pm - Reply

    I really do hope it survives after all your hard work and patience. Good on you for not giving up!!

    • Jessica March 21, 2013 at 7:00 pm - Reply

      It was close… !!

  9. Sarah March 21, 2013 at 7:04 pm - Reply

    At least the hydrangea knew where it’s new home was! I hope you haven’t got any more to move!
    Sarah x

    • Jessica March 21, 2013 at 7:17 pm - Reply

      Quite a few 🙁
      Maybe we’ll have got the knack of it by the last one..

  10. Wendy March 21, 2013 at 7:48 pm - Reply

    The terraces are looking terrific after all your hard work. I loved your story, although it wasn’t much fun for you! You really do have some slopes there – my gardening is all on the flat, although if there is any slope to be found, a loaded wheel barrow will find it.

    • Jessica March 21, 2013 at 9:16 pm - Reply

      Most of the garden is on a slope of 45 deg. It’s challenging! Thinking about where a plant should go has to take into account not just its height but all those around it, relative to the slope..

  11. Anne March 21, 2013 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    It had better survive after all that effort!!

    • Jessica March 21, 2013 at 9:19 pm - Reply

      It better had!

  12. Judith March 21, 2013 at 8:23 pm - Reply

    Ha! So you’ve taken up extreme gardening! The terrace beds look great after your efforts and you will never have to move that hydrangea again…

    • Jessica March 21, 2013 at 9:22 pm - Reply

      Extreme gardening comes with the territory..
      I’ve exposed some gaps, but it will be fun filling them as the season progresses, pheasants permitting!

  13. Em March 22, 2013 at 8:05 am - Reply

    It looks good but, as you say, it will be a miracle if it survives. I’ll look forward to finding out. Our neighbour’s hydrangea that flops into our garden, is already sprouting, unlike anything else!

    • Jessica March 22, 2013 at 10:14 am - Reply

      At least it has had a good watering overnight!!! Saves me doing it..

  14. rachel March 22, 2013 at 9:55 am - Reply

    Quite a challenge, your garden, but it sounds like you’re up to it. You say “currently this is the only flat bit” – does this mean you have grand earth-moving plans??

    • Jessica March 22, 2013 at 10:21 am - Reply

      There is scope for more terracing but it will indeed require major earth moving. I’d love to do it to extend the garden, but it’s quite a way out in the overall plan. I’ve sort of zoned the garden into manageable chunks. This year the focus will be on the bank behind the house, where we put the hydrangea.

  15. Rose H March 22, 2013 at 9:58 am - Reply

    I have a relative with a similar garden, however they don’t have much by way of a sense of humour!
    You’ve both done a sterling job and I’m sure the hydrangea will survive, which reminds me of seeing Alan Titchmarch planting trees and telling each one to ‘Grow you bugger’ as he firmed them in :o)
    Rose H

    • Jessica March 22, 2013 at 10:23 am - Reply

      I shall go up and give it a talking to right now!!

  16. Rosie March 22, 2013 at 10:49 am - Reply

    Oh, goodness, hope the hydrangea survives! We’ve moved one of ours three times over the years – it is still with us but doesn’t get much bigger. We struggled with moving a conifer once using ropes and wheelbarrrow – it did tip over but luckily we had no slopes for it to hurtle down – that is still with us too:)

    • Jessica March 22, 2013 at 2:16 pm - Reply

      Oh, thank you Rosie, there is hope for ours yet!

  17. Abby March 22, 2013 at 3:23 pm - Reply

    Goodness – that was an adventure for you and the Hydrangea! Hope it likes its’ new home! You certainly have got some extreme gardening going on there! I’m not sure where you are – I shall go and browse and maybe find out. Is the garden huge? Woodland too? Have a good weekend. Abby x

    • Abby March 22, 2013 at 3:25 pm - Reply

      Just read your ‘About’and answered my own questions! x

      • Jessica March 22, 2013 at 5:07 pm - Reply

        Extreme gardening is what I call it and definitely what it feels like! It seemed very do-able before we started, now I’m not so sure. The only way, like eating an elephant, is to cut it into manageable chunks. So we’ve started near the house and will work outwards, leaving the wood to look after itself for the time being!

  18. CherryPie March 22, 2013 at 6:46 pm - Reply

    It certainly did put up a fight, I hope it likes its new home. The terrace is looking fabulous 🙂

    • Jessica March 22, 2013 at 7:12 pm - Reply

      Thanks Cherie. It just needs a bit of sunshine now. Bit like me..

  19. Natalie March 22, 2013 at 8:08 pm - Reply

    Would you like some snow? I have about two feet of it to spare! 🙂

    • Jessica March 22, 2013 at 9:12 pm - Reply


  20. Jacqueline March 23, 2013 at 5:23 am - Reply

    Hi Jessica,
    Well, all that I can say is that you two must be so fit ….. that sounded like really hard work !! Here’s hoping it survives after all that !!!! XXXX

    • Jessica March 23, 2013 at 9:50 am - Reply

      This place is showing up just how unfit I am… hopefully it will improve when I can get out there a bit more!!

  21. BadPenny March 23, 2013 at 8:34 am - Reply

    Just read your comment at John’s about feeding the pheasants – you softie. Will you be namig them as they will never leave you now ? !

    • Jessica March 23, 2013 at 9:52 am - Reply

      Oh, you should have seen them Penny, they were so very miserable! Funnily enough, they were back again this morning…….

  22. Jo March 23, 2013 at 11:09 am - Reply

    That sounds like hard work. You won’t need a gym membership with workouts like that. I love your terrace, it’s got such character with the moss growing up the walls.

    • Jessica March 23, 2013 at 1:17 pm - Reply

      Thanks Jo. Plenty of moss down here!

  23. My Life In Sweden March 23, 2013 at 11:47 am - Reply

    Does not feel like spring here in Sweden either, with snow and freezing temperatures still…

    • Jessica March 23, 2013 at 1:22 pm - Reply

      I think it must be the same across the Northern hemisphere. But if it means we get a better summer than last year perhaps we should not worry.

  24. Viv March 24, 2013 at 10:39 pm - Reply

    We have had to use a winch once or twice to move things in Scotland. All’s well that ends well. Hydrangeas are pretty hardy things and I am sure it will recover probably quicker than you and Mike!

    • Jessica March 24, 2013 at 11:41 pm - Reply

      As long as it doesn’t get clobbered by the sub zero next week!

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