When The Earth Moves

You won’t need me to tell you, that heap of earth has been there for a very long time.

It’s the spoil from an enormous hole dug for a (waste) Water Treatment Plant, the first project taken on when we moved into this place. It was a necessary and urgent job. The previous arrangement was rustic and let’s just leave it at that! Last year Mike weeded The Heap. But you wouldn’t know it now. The large projection from the top looks like a tree, species unknown. In its early days The Heap was almost double its current size. We’ve chipped away at it as soil or rubble were needed elsewhere but finally the remainder has found a new home.


This is where it’s going:



The derelict pond


 I’ve agonised over this one because I’ve always wanted to have a big pond. And this one is big. The picture was taken during the recent very wet winter and yet the pond is all but empty. If it held water I could have had ducks in their own infinity-edge pool. In reality it leaks like a sieve and that’s hardly surprising since it was built almost cantilevered out over the slope. To make matters worse the pond is overshadowed by the canopy of deciduous trees, another factor leading us to think it would be difficult to maintain. We’ve taken the decision to start filling it in.

You can get a better idea of the geography by clicking the ‘On Location’ tab above. The pond is drawn on the map. The Water Treatment Plant is the hatched portion of the turning area, marked ‘K’. It is buried under railway sleepers, just seen in the photo below.



 Once The Heap has gone the next task is to tackle the hedge.

 I’m not entirely sure what it is, perhaps Lonicera? It forms the boundary all around this side of the turning area and my plan is to chop it back by half to two thirds. With a bit of time spent clearing the woodland down below we would get a good view of the river from here.



 On the other side of the drive, an overgrown shrub border.

The big blob of green in the middle is a pyracantha gone wild. It’s next in the firing line, after the hedge. Perhaps I can hold Mike back until the berries have been and gone but the plant has grown far too large for where it is, sprawling out across the gravel. The pile of stones underneath it has been plucked from the earth all over the garden. They’re being saved for the restoration of a cobbled path.

And is that the sum total of our workload for autumn?




Spending time on the terraces and the formal part of the garden has been all very well..

but look what’s now happened to the slope!


2018-04-17T09:59:54+00:00August 12th, 2014|Tags: |


  1. woolythymes August 12, 2014 at 12:40 pm - Reply

    does a gardener ever ‘finish’??? never!!!! 🙁

    • Jessica August 12, 2014 at 7:28 pm - Reply

      Definitely not here!

  2. Jacqueline August 12, 2014 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    Oh my goodness Jessica …… you both have your hands full…… but, the hard work will be worth it. We have a pond , and where is it ? Sitting under a ninety foot tree that we planted after the Great Storm. They were giving away teensy tiny little seedling trees at the gardening college near us to encorouge people to plant a tree after the Great Strorm and what started out as a bean with a leaf sprouting from it, is now this towering giant of a tree !! Our pond has more leaves, fir cones and seed pods than water !!!! XXXX

    • Jessica August 12, 2014 at 7:36 pm - Reply

      That’s what I fear would happen to the pond here. You can see a couple of small oak trees on the picture of the slope and I’m thinking of having those out too. More shade, too close to the house.. I love oak but perhaps better to remove them now whilst we can still manage it ourselves.

  3. Vera August 12, 2014 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    It’s good to have projects. Stops one from being idle, and sitting on a sofa, or a sunbed, watching all that is happening, drinking in the sun, or watching the clouds in the sky. Yes, being idle is definitely not to be done! ……well perhaps now and then…..

    Looking forward to seeing how your garden continues to change, and thinking that we ought to get our front garden sorted out…..

    • Jessica August 12, 2014 at 7:39 pm - Reply

      Oh I wish for that time sitting in the sun! And the sofa is once a week at the moment, half an hour to watch Gardeners’ World and find out what else I should be doing that weekend.

  4. Countryside Tales August 12, 2014 at 2:05 pm - Reply

    Lordy Jess, you’ve got your work cut out for you there!

    • Jessica August 12, 2014 at 7:43 pm - Reply

      Little by little.. the only trouble is I can’t keep up. Turn my back on the bit I’ve done and the weeds sprout up again. It’s far too big an area for weed control fabric or mulch. I tried bark chippings the first year but there are too many perennial weeds and they just come up regardless.

      • Sharon August 13, 2014 at 2:47 am - Reply

        sigh. We too have an ongoing battle trying to hold back nature. sigh.

        • Jessica August 13, 2014 at 9:46 am - Reply

          There is only so much you can do, which is why part of our garden will stay wild. Nature is bigger and uglier than us!

  5. Jo August 12, 2014 at 2:57 pm - Reply

    You don’t do things by halves. Hope there’s some decent weather this autumn and winter to allow you to crack on.

    • Jessica August 12, 2014 at 7:44 pm - Reply

      Amen to that.

  6. Janet/Plantaliscious August 12, 2014 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    A view of the river sounds lovely, but oh heck, that’s a lot of work… As for the slope, hey, its lovely and green! That’s exactly what you wanted, isn’t it?! Good luck, sounds as if you are both going to be rather busy…

    • Jessica August 12, 2014 at 8:03 pm - Reply

      A little too green. I cleared it all this time last year and I’m going to have to do it again. Maybe it will be easier this time? Really annoying is that the choice things I planted, like rudbeckia to clump up, have been chewed by the deer. For some reason they’re not nearly as fond of weeds.

  7. angiesgardendiaries August 12, 2014 at 4:47 pm - Reply

    Thank goodness I’m sitting down, I was exhausted just reading Jessica! As has been said, you’ve got your work cut out and I’m sure that once you both get started there will be no holding you back. Will very much look forward to seeing what you achieve.

    • Jessica August 12, 2014 at 8:07 pm - Reply

      Mike has made a good start on the heap, it’s the weather that’s holding us back now. With clay soil the ‘windows’ are small. In dry weather it’s as hard as concrete and right now like a quagmire. Thanks Angie.

  8. snowbird August 12, 2014 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    Good grief, sounds like you need a team of gardeners to help you! Good luck with it.xxx

    • Jessica August 12, 2014 at 8:09 pm - Reply

      You’re right, we do. Needs a lottery win or something..

  9. Freda August 12, 2014 at 5:07 pm - Reply

    Wow! what a project (or two, or three….). Full of admiration for the job you are doing.

    • Jessica August 12, 2014 at 8:11 pm - Reply

      Thanks Freda. This is why I won’t be opening for the Yellow Book anytime soon. Love to one day though. If only because it means I will be making some progress.

  10. Sue August 12, 2014 at 7:10 pm - Reply

    There’s always another project to begin isn’t there, it’s never ending.

    I think a wise decision to fill in the pond, you can always start a smaller leak proof one somewhere else.

    We had a similar heap once, it sprouted some kind off manic Melon plant, they tasted so foul even the pigs struggled to eat them … I have no idea where they came from!!

    • Jessica August 12, 2014 at 8:24 pm - Reply

      I dread to think what’s growing here. Last year Ptolemy used the top of the heap as a staging post in his bid for world domination so no doubt a lot of it relates to what he had been eating. There are some grasses and ferns that could be worth rescuing.

  11. Anne Wheaton August 12, 2014 at 7:23 pm - Reply

    Good grief. I think I’d let it all go.

    • Jessica August 12, 2014 at 8:25 pm - Reply

      I’ve tried that. I just got depressed!

  12. Em August 12, 2014 at 8:12 pm - Reply

    Hmmm – I’ll come over one day and put in a few hours in Autumn!

    • Jessica August 12, 2014 at 8:26 pm - Reply

      I might have to hold you to that.. 🙂

      • Linda August 15, 2014 at 3:21 am - Reply

        Oh I would come too!
        Gosh Jessica…..the never-ending garden….
        What you have already done is awesome…
        Hang in there my friend!
        Linda :o)

        • Jessica August 15, 2014 at 8:29 am - Reply

          A working garden party… yay!! Bring your wellies.

  13. Jay August 12, 2014 at 8:33 pm - Reply

    Gosh it all sounds like such a lot of work to an incompetent gardener like me!

    • Jessica August 13, 2014 at 9:13 am - Reply

      I took on too much if I’m honest, hey ho.

  14. CherryPie August 12, 2014 at 9:17 pm - Reply

    Good grief that is an awful lot of work you have got on your hands!

    • Jessica August 13, 2014 at 9:15 am - Reply

      It is, but a lot of the woodland will stay wild. Then it can look after itself!

  15. rabbitquilter August 12, 2014 at 9:42 pm - Reply

    You would only be sitting twiddling your fingers if you didn’t have your lovely garden!!! How big is it? We will all be queuing up for our tea and scones when your open for the Yellow book!!!!

    • Jessica August 13, 2014 at 9:19 am - Reply

      It’s three acres, but most of that is the woodland. My plan is to have the area nearest the house looking like a garden and then it sort of merges into the wilder bit. A bit of twiddling would be nice!

  16. threadspider August 12, 2014 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    Good to catch up with your projects. You are as reassuringly “busy” as we are!

    • Jessica August 13, 2014 at 9:22 am - Reply

      Hello! Great to hear from you and glad you’re keeping busy. It’s been a great summer to be in the garden. Are you still painting too?

      • threadspider August 13, 2014 at 10:05 pm - Reply

        When I can, but it’s all got a bit much lately. Every minute had been in the garden or visiting various relatives! What a fabulous summer, though.

        • Jessica August 13, 2014 at 10:29 pm - Reply

          Summers like this come along so rarely nowadays we do need to spend time savouring it. Take care.

  17. colleen August 12, 2014 at 9:59 pm - Reply

    Oh my lord! It makes me feel tired just to read this. But….I visited a wonderful garden this summer, looking out over the Oare Estuary, close to Faversham, not as steep as yours, but definitely sloping! It was part of the open garden scheme and the couple said the garden took up all the time, but what a wonderful it was. So maintain the vision and keep up the good work, do.

    • Jessica August 13, 2014 at 9:25 am - Reply

      Thanks Colleen. We don’t get to as many Open Gardens as we’d like, although there are plenty down here too. Must fix that because they are a great source of inspiration, a bit more realistic and do-able than some of the larger public spaces.

  18. Mark and Gaz August 12, 2014 at 10:15 pm - Reply

    Wow, so much to do, so many projects to tackle but it’ll be all worth it 🙂 having projects are a good thing, with the end product something to look forward to. And besides, garden work never really finishes…

    • Jessica August 13, 2014 at 9:28 am - Reply

      No, it doesn’t ever finish. But I’m looking forward to getting to the stage that you are at, where it becomes a pleasure to make changes and improve and also have time to sit back and enjoy it!

  19. Chloris August 12, 2014 at 10:55 pm - Reply

    I like a project in the garden but oh dear me, you are quite mad. Moving that pile of earth and filling in the pond is enough to keep you going for the next few years, never mind this autumn. What a paIr you are, I wish I could borrow you for a week or two. I have a huge pond which is dry in summer. I have often wondered what to do with it. Now I see; you just fill it in one day when you’ ve not much on.
    Do be careful with the Pyracantha. It is a horrible, spiny thing. The most vicious thorns known to man.
    I’ m going to have to go and lie down, I’ m quite exhausted just thinking about all this.

    • Jessica August 13, 2014 at 9:39 am - Reply

      I have seen pyracantha neatly trained back against walls so I’m going to have a go here. If I don’t get flowers back in a year or so it is out.
      There are days when I feel just like that, yesterday being one of them. I was going to tackle the bathroom seeing as it was raining but just didn’t have the energy. Luckily I rallied sufficiently in the afternoon to go plant shopping 🙂 Just got to plant them now..

  20. Alain August 12, 2014 at 10:57 pm - Reply

    Good luck with all these projects! I hope they do not take much more time than you hope they will!

    • Jessica August 13, 2014 at 9:44 am - Reply

      I’m sure they will. They always do. But it’s still worth pressing on, with the end result firmly in mind. What you two have achieved is incredible, I only hope we can create something as good.

  21. Sigrun August 13, 2014 at 6:07 am - Reply

    Oh my goodness, what a lot of grounds – work für several years! Good luck!


    • Jessica August 13, 2014 at 9:47 am - Reply

      I always said it was a ten year plan, but as we are well into that now it’s been extended! Thanks Sigrun.

  22. CJ August 13, 2014 at 8:43 am - Reply

    It sounds like a good choice to fill in the empty pond. You’ve plenty to keep you busy I think! But it’s such a beautiful place to be, I’m sure there will some pleasure in working on your land. CJ xx

    • Jessica August 13, 2014 at 9:55 am - Reply

      It’s the only choice if I put a practical hat on. It seems such an unnatural place in the landscape to have a pond too, jutting out halfway down a hill.

  23. sustainablemum August 13, 2014 at 8:48 am - Reply

    Your garden is beautiful, I love the wilderness :). I am not sure that is what you want to hear tho! Whatever you do, and however hard it is, it will be worth it in the end 😉

    • Jessica August 13, 2014 at 10:03 am - Reply

      The wilderness will stay. I do want to do some work to make it more accessible, so remove dead and fallen trees and the worst of the brambles, and create some paths through it. But the pond is an artificial structure and never really worked, according to friends in the village it has always leaked. In my mind it isn’t necessary either because the river provides a natural water source. So hopefully we will be returning the land to how it looked originally.

  24. Sue@GLAllotments August 13, 2014 at 10:16 am - Reply

    When is the JCB arriving?

    • Jessica August 13, 2014 at 9:24 pm - Reply

      It’s already been. That’s what dumped the soil on the drive in the first place. 🙁

  25. SmallP August 13, 2014 at 12:40 pm - Reply

    A view of the river sounds lovely, to be enjoyed with a glass of wine in hand whilst contemplating which part of project to start next 🙂

    • Jessica August 13, 2014 at 9:35 pm - Reply

      Quite a few big ideas have been wine fuelled. Apparently I’m to be rationed.

  26. wherefivevalleysmeet August 13, 2014 at 1:26 pm - Reply

    I made a comment here which seems to have gone walk about.
    The vision requires lots of hard work, but you both seem a tenacious couple, and I am sure that by this time next year we will be viewing the happy results.

    • Jessica August 13, 2014 at 9:53 pm - Reply

      My apologies Rosemary. I’ve looked in the usual places for your comment but can find no sign of it so there must have been a glitch somewhere. I’m glad it’s OK again now.
      We do our best to keep at it, it’s much harder work than either of us envisaged. But it is true what they say about eating an elephant. A bit at a time.

  27. Isabelle August 13, 2014 at 5:03 pm - Reply

    I actually love the wild quality of your garden. And I can understand your desire for a pond – I would love to have a pond with ducks, frogs, and the like. xxx

    • Jessica August 13, 2014 at 9:58 pm - Reply

      There are plenty of frogs around, a lot of the land is permanently moist. They leap out of hidey holes when least expected. And I have seen a pair of mallards on the river, so I’ll just have to make do!

  28. Amy at love made my home August 13, 2014 at 8:24 pm - Reply

    I bet that the heap is even bigger in reality than it looks in the photo, I was going to say that it will probably fill in the old pond nicely therefore, but the pond is probably a lot bigger in real life too! You definitely have lots to keep you busy over the coming months don’t you! xx

    • Jessica August 13, 2014 at 10:05 pm - Reply

      You’re right it is. Almost up to my head height when I stand in front of it. I doubt the soil will fill the pond completely. But it’s been built up too so to get the landscape back to rights it will need some levelling. We’ll just keep tipping the soil in and see what happens!

  29. Pauline August 14, 2014 at 8:12 am - Reply

    Wow, that is a lot of work that you are planning, I hope we have a good autumn to help you with your projects ! Nature has a way of filling a vacuum, I remember when we were getting the garden here sorted, that the weeds sprang up behind me and weeding seemed a never ending job. As you say Jessica, a bit at a time, then one day you will find that your projects are done, but then, a garden is never finished and that is the beauty of it!

    • Jessica August 14, 2014 at 9:36 am - Reply

      Pauline, many thanks for the words of encouragement. It can feel like a never ending task sometimes. The terraces have now got to the stage where I’ve removed most of the long standing weeds and stopped the reseeding. I can only hope that the same will soon be true of the slope.. then I’ll feel I’m really making progress.

  30. Paula@SpoonsnSpades August 14, 2014 at 11:13 am - Reply

    Who needs keep fit dvd’s when you have a garden, hey! That is an amazing amount of work, but how satisfying it will be when it’s complete and you can sit back with a cuppa and admire the gorgeous views. I shall look forward to seeing your progress.

    • Jessica August 14, 2014 at 7:20 pm - Reply

      Too true Paula! Gardening can be serious hard graft. It’s the vision of how it might look one day that keeps us going.

  31. elaine August 14, 2014 at 12:05 pm - Reply

    It’s a good job you like gardening Jessica but it seems to be never-ending for you. And they’re not just little jobs either – I envy you your energy and determined spirit.

    • Jessica August 14, 2014 at 7:23 pm - Reply

      We just pick out a new bit to tame and bring into the garden each year and ignore the rest, it’s the only way to cope with it.

  32. John August 15, 2014 at 6:28 am - Reply

    Wowsers! And I thought I had a lot of work to do…

    Actually I both shudder at the work and am jealous the wonderful opportunities that you have. What a great piece of land… 🙂

    I love your map by the way…

    • Jessica August 15, 2014 at 8:31 am - Reply

      It is a never ending job to be sure. Lucky I like the wild look!

  33. Antoinette August 15, 2014 at 12:34 pm - Reply

    Oh the joy of spoil heaps! We had to put in a waste water system so that was 1 large pile; then there was the terrace – another enormous heap and thirdly the drive…
    We created 2 low mounds under groups of trees with ‘feathered’ out edges and the third spoil heap we were kindly allowed to dump in a nearby neighbour’s unused quarry [there are numerous of these small diggings where people dug out the chalk or tuffeau stone which lies under the clay]. One day we’ll get all the rocks out of the mounds and plant up with shade loving plants. Meanwhile we battle weeds…
    Clay heaps are an ‘especial’ pleasure to shift aren’t they ..sigh.

    • Jessica August 15, 2014 at 8:30 pm - Reply

      Could you grass them over and pass them off as ancient burial mounds? Possibly not if it’s that shady.
      This heap has been in situ so long it’s become solid.. clay. Mike is doing it in 1-hour-per-day bursts. But now it’s raining and the ‘path’ down to the pond is treacherous, so everything has stopped. It will be so so good to be rid of it though.

  34. SeagullSuzie August 16, 2014 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    What a lot of work you have to do…my word…I feel like a lie down after reading this post!

    • Jessica August 16, 2014 at 8:35 pm - Reply

      I sleep well.. it’s got that going for it!

  35. Jeneane August 17, 2014 at 10:49 am - Reply

    What a project! I have a ‘heap’ too to be moved at leisure. I love looking at all the greenery of your trees in your photos. I miss that aspect of England very much. By the way I don’t often comment as my comments don’t register via Google Chrome. For some blogs I have to open Internet Explorer to get my comments to stick, but it is very slow to load and frustrating. I still love seeing what you are up to and having you visit my garden 🙂

    • Jessica August 17, 2014 at 11:15 pm - Reply

      We could probably do with a few less trees, they are omnipresent here. It really is a case of not being able to see the wood for the trees.. the plan is to remove some of the younger saplings that have grown unchecked in recent years and allow the beautiful mature specimens to shine. I do understand the frustrations of technology, it’s a struggle when I try to comment with an iPad. I love the go-anywhere flexibility of it but I still tear my hair out sometimes!

  36. Christina August 19, 2014 at 6:52 pm - Reply

    I think your decision about the pond sounds correct, a shame but a , pond in deep shade will be a problem. As to your tasks for autumn all I can say is GOOD LUCK for good weather!

    • Jessica August 19, 2014 at 8:43 pm - Reply

      I have a horrible feeling autumn is going to be early, cold and wet. That’s how it’s shaping up anyway. Hopefully now I’ve written it here I will be proved wrong.

  37. islandthreads September 2, 2014 at 8:37 pm - Reply

    I move earth around too, uneven ground requires it, good luck with the moving, your slope looks very lush, enjoyed the spinning squirels, I left a comment but it said it couldn’t publish, hope this does, Frances

    • Jessica September 2, 2014 at 10:12 pm - Reply

      We are making good progress with the heap, but clay is SO heavy when it’s wet. The slope is lush alright, I just wish it wasn’t weeds. 🙁
      Both comments arrived, thanks Frances.

      • islandthreads September 3, 2014 at 12:28 pm - Reply

        yes I just saw my other comment is there so don’t know what the internet was on about, surprisingly peat is also very heavy when wet but light when dry, I think it must be because both types of soil hold water very well!!
        I hope your nice plants are surviving the weeds on the slope, I fought my way to the damp meadow and tweenie areas yesterday and though the weeds are so plentiful you can’t see the path I was both surprised and pleased to see most of the nice plants were surviving, it gives me hope, Frances

        • Jessica September 3, 2014 at 8:37 pm - Reply

          I think mostly the plants on the bank are OK and the weeds are only one season’s growth so hopefully they won’t be too difficult to remove. It’s just finding the time! I seem to be run ragged at the moment. Almost looking forward to the garden winding down a bit so I can have a bit of a break.. almost!

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