And Three Days Later..




..the job was done.

They got to the rear slope of the house from ladders propped up against the face of the bank. It looked rather precarious at times but it would have been a difficult place to erect scaffolding. The angle of the ladder has to be just right to lay flat against the roof. Ramming the foot of the ladder into the face of the bank proved the most practical solution.

The chimneys were given a good brush down and a new coat of paint. And yes, the birds have flown. Their nest area beneath the end chimney was left to the last day and by then there was no sight or sound of the parents or their brood. Maybe a week’s worth of thatch thumping and the crashing of ladders above her head focused Mama Coal Tit’s mind somewhat. But at least there was a happy ending and the thatcher was able to finish off the job.



Whose clever idea was this then?

To enable the thatchers to reach the top of the end chimney the scaffolder had provided an extra high platform on that side of the house.  It’s visible in the top two photographs above. You can guess who was itching to get up there. But it needed an additional ladder which didn’t materialise until the painting began. As soon as they broke for lunch I had my moment.

It’s a very long way down.



Cornus kousa ‘Satomi’ resplendent in pink and the yellow spires of Phlomis russeliana. And more planting opportunities!

But then I was drawn by movement, top centre of shot…




Spot the eye. And the long furry ears. And could that be a white bobtail? Many of the rabbit resistant plant lists online would have you believe that bunnies don’t much care for Verbena bonariensis. Let me tell you folks, those lists are wrong.



In the month leading up to the start of work I cleared the front edge of the bank to give the thatcher room to manoeuvre his ladders. The white flowering small tree is Cornus kousa ‘Wietings Select’ and to the left of it Magnolia sieboldii bearing the last few of its fabulously fragrant blooms. The tree stumps and roots from the high conifers which used to be here show up well from this height. Slowly they are rotting away and the new planting is taking over.



Swinging around even farther to the left we’re looking at the point at which the Precipitous Bank merges into the woodland. What I often refer to as the woodland edge. With the canopy now fully into leaf it’s deep shade from that point on and quite a challenge from a planting point of view. Those old conifers I mentioned were getting on for 50 feet high, towering above the house and perilously close.

You can also see the precarious arrangement with the ladders! That was one climb I was happy to leave to the experts.



All it needs now then is for the scaffolding to come down.

I shall quite miss it. In a funny sort of way. Apparently there have been very few of the thatcher’s clients up and down their scaffolding as frequently as we were. It didn’t get as far as taking deckchairs and a bottle of wine up there.. but almost!


2018-06-25T16:48:21+00:00June 25th, 2018|Tags: |


  1. Cheryl West June 25, 2018 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    Your new roof is beautiful and incredibly impressive. You must be so pleased to have such a major project completed. I am always in awe of the specialty workmen. Sorry about your bunny visitor. Have you considered adopting a couple of good hunter felines?

    • Jessica June 26, 2018 at 9:07 pm - Reply

      Funnily enough there is a cat about. We didn’t know until we started using the field camera again. No idea where it came from but it is definitely well fed. The trouble is it can’t keep up, even with the back up army of buzzards, owls and foxes!

  2. justjilluk June 25, 2018 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    Fantastic job! No way I could have/would have gone up there!

    • Jessica June 26, 2018 at 9:11 pm - Reply

      It’s easier after the first time! But I had to go whatever. I don’t suppose I will witness thatching again from such close quarters and the bird’s eye view of the garden was invaluable.

  3. Christina June 25, 2018 at 6:11 pm - Reply

    You are braver than I am. I felt quite queasy just looking at your photographs.

    • Jessica June 26, 2018 at 9:14 pm - Reply

      When they did the final bit of work on the roof, the bit around the nest, they took the scaffolding side and handrails away to get better access. That did give me pause for thought I must admit.

  4. Rebecca June 25, 2018 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    Your new roof is beautiful looking. Glad you got a chance to go up and get a birds eyeview of the garden. What a great oppertunity.

    • Jessica June 26, 2018 at 9:17 pm - Reply

      Thanks Rebecca!
      It’s a view we rarely see isn’t it but oh so useful! There is no better way to review the structure of the garden and what you need to do to improve on it.

  5. wherethejourneytakesme June 25, 2018 at 6:51 pm - Reply

    You must be so pleased with the result Jessica – I remember getting our new slate roof on the cottage (only a month before the flood). We couldn’t stop admiring it from all angles.
    I think our bunnies at the cottage will have been having a field day whilst we have not been there. We have netting around our Verbena – just in case!

    • Jessica June 26, 2018 at 10:09 pm - Reply

      Wise move. The trouble with the bunnies is that they are getting fearless. I have to run a lot farther down the lawn now before they take off..
      I hope it’s going well at the cottage, I will pop by and catch up.

  6. Susan Garrett June 25, 2018 at 7:17 pm - Reply

    You are adventurous. I would have just given the thatcher a camera and said , as nicely as I could, please can you take some photos? You did get a great view for your efforts though.

    • Jessica June 26, 2018 at 11:01 pm - Reply

      He’d have done it too. But I had to give it a go. If it had been over water quite a different story.

  7. Heyjude June 25, 2018 at 8:56 pm - Reply

    Looking good! But my goodness that bank to the rear is very steep. I can’t imagine how oppressive it must have felt with the conifers so close to the house. The thatcher did a neat job around the chimneys too. And how lovely to get a birds eye view of your plot.

    • Jessica June 26, 2018 at 11:04 pm - Reply

      Extremely oppressive. And positively frightening on windy nights. But there weren’t too many of those. Removing the trees was the first thing we did after moving in. Within weeks.

  8. Kris P June 25, 2018 at 9:00 pm - Reply

    You are far braver than I! And that’s despite the fact that our one story house is less of a precipitous climb. Still, it’s fun to see your garden from overhead – both it and your new roof look splendid. I’m amazed that you could detect the rabbit from that height but then their movements do give them away, as I’ve discovered. Despite the increased presence of avian predators, my rabbits are still here, although their visits now seem to be more on the order of once a day rather than continuous.

    • Jessica June 26, 2018 at 11:10 pm - Reply

      There were three bunnies on the lawn this evening. I dread to think how many in the rest of the garden. But it was warm enough to sit out, which we did. I was thinking of all those beady eyes watching us. And waiting. Knowing that humans are not nocturnal..

  9. Chloris June 25, 2018 at 9:32 pm - Reply

    How smart the house looks, well worth it. You have a good head for heights, you’d never get me up there.

    • Jessica June 26, 2018 at 11:12 pm - Reply

      It was easy after the first time. Honest!

  10. offtheedgegardening June 25, 2018 at 10:33 pm - Reply

    And now looking even more wonderful! As for the “lists” definitely wrong. How are you coping with the “drought”?

    • Jessica June 26, 2018 at 11:22 pm - Reply

      I’m spending half of every evening watering! We need to get practicing the rain dance.

  11. janesmudgeegarden June 25, 2018 at 11:06 pm - Reply

    Your new roof looks so very smart and the edging along the top (I’m sure it has a special name) is very decorative. How interesting to see the garden from above. Like you, I’d have been up there like a shot! I imagine getting those conifers down must have been quite a business and the house had a new lightness after they’d gone.

    • Jessica June 26, 2018 at 11:40 pm - Reply

      The edging is called the spar pattern, which finishes off the ridge and holds the straw in place. Getting the conifers down was a major undertaking, especially as we couldn’t afford to have any roll down the hill! I remember the thump as each one fell. There is more work to do on trees, specifically a couple more at the front of the house now getting far too big. Mike has decided to tackle them himself.. oh joy!

  12. hb June 26, 2018 at 1:48 am - Reply

    Beautiful job on that thatch!. I once ventured up on the pergola on the second story balcony to paint it, but I remember the fear more than the view.

    Darn rabbits!

    • Jessica June 27, 2018 at 9:59 pm - Reply

      Good grief, I’m not surprised about the fear!
      The rabbits are everywhere and eating everything. I really can’t have a garden that is entirely covered in chicken wire.

  13. Beth @ PlantPostings June 26, 2018 at 3:13 am - Reply

    I love the siting of your place–with the tiered structure of the rock walls, and the patio overlooking the garden. It’s romantic. Oh yes, and the thatched roof and painted chimney look oh, so fabulous! Congratulations! It’s nifty that you had such an amazing view to check out the garden and surrounds, even if it didn’t last forever. Just think: You can always start a new project that requires scaffolding. 😉

    • Jessica June 27, 2018 at 10:08 pm - Reply

      The thatcher suggested that we build a tree house. There’s no shortage of trees after all. The birds would have to get used to the intrusion.

  14. catmint June 26, 2018 at 3:44 am - Reply

    Hi Jessica, I love thatched roofs, like a fairy tale cottage. And I quite enjoyed the birds eye view in spite of not having a head for heights. Cute rabbit, in spite of evil intentions.

    • Jessica June 27, 2018 at 10:10 pm - Reply

      That is the trouble. They are very cute, especially the baby ones. Of which, sadly, we seem to have many!

  15. Virginia June 26, 2018 at 4:52 am - Reply

    Too high! Too steep! Too EVERYTHING! Definitely not for me! The mere idea gives me palpitations! The new roof looks most impressive. You must be very pleased …with the bunny less so!

    • Jessica June 27, 2018 at 10:13 pm - Reply

      You are to heights what I am to water. I feel your pain!

  16. Pauline June 26, 2018 at 5:20 am - Reply

    Very smart indeed! You wouldn’t get me up those ladders either, I like my feet firmly on the ground. I know what my garden looks like from above as people keep photographing it from aeroplanes and trying to sell them to us! Sorry a bunny has invaded your paradise, I’m battling with a mole at the moment.

    • Jessica June 27, 2018 at 10:17 pm - Reply

      There’s always something isn’t there. The bunnies are getting to be a real problem and I’m not sure what we’re going to do about it right now. What we can do about it. We’ve certainly been invaded.

  17. Linda P June 26, 2018 at 6:10 am - Reply

    A job well done especially when the access up there at the back is so tricky. Your opportunity to survey the land from above was one not to be missed! However, I think you’re very brave! We would like to repaint the exterior walls of the Italian house. Guttering, repair needs doing too, which is more important, and it would involve scaffolding.. Although the house is built into the hillside at least there’s a terrace over the garage all along the length of the house at the back between the house and the higher ground.. How is gardening going in this dry weather? .

    • Jessica June 27, 2018 at 10:22 pm - Reply

      There’s always something to do on a house isn’t there and it seems to get more expensive every year. I can’t believe the cost of scaffolding!
      I’m spending all my time watering! The irrigation doesn’t cover all of the garden and there’s still the greenhouse and anything in a pot. And then there’s the clay soil which is now rock hard. I’d like to be thinking about replanting the part of the bank I cleared for the thatchers, but it would be pointless at the moment.

  18. derrickjknight June 26, 2018 at 9:55 am - Reply

    Great work. Our Head Gardener really empathises over the rabbits

    • Jessica June 27, 2018 at 10:24 pm - Reply

      Oh no, not you too! Do crows go after rabbits? 🙂

  19. Brian Skeys June 26, 2018 at 11:23 am - Reply

    I am envious of your ‘Miss Satomi’, I ordered one this spring for May delivery, when planted all its leaves went brown and fell off. A replacement has been promised for the autumn. You must be delighted with the finished roof.

    • Jessica June 27, 2018 at 10:28 pm - Reply

      I hope Miss Satomi settles in after an autumn planting. You won’t regret the choice. It also sounds more compact than ‘Satomi’. One thing I’m finding is that ‘Satomi’ likes to spread her limbs. I might have to get nifty with the secateurs or else she will take over.

  20. Rosie June 26, 2018 at 3:51 pm - Reply

    You are very brave to go up there but what a wonderful view of your garden. The finished roof looks wonderful:)

    • Jessica June 27, 2018 at 10:54 pm - Reply

      Thanks Rosie. Sadly the new thatch weathers very quickly, it always looks so lovely in its fresh yellow state!

  21. Vera Coe June 26, 2018 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    How bold you both are to climb such a height on ladders which look quite rickety, but nice photos, both from up top and down below. We know about rabbits. They taste very nice!

    • Jessica June 27, 2018 at 10:58 pm - Reply

      And there’s me an aspiring vegetarian! Otherwise we’d have a full freezer for a very long time. Always assuming we could catch them..

  22. Mark and Gaz June 26, 2018 at 5:25 pm - Reply

    What a significant change, your new roof looks good!

    • Jessica June 27, 2018 at 11:00 pm - Reply

      Thanks. It’s a shame the fresh look won’t last for long, but at least it will keep the rain out. If I remember correctly what rain is..

  23. Torrington Tina June 26, 2018 at 8:02 pm - Reply

    Brilliant to see it done, scaling those heights has definitely given you a good view. Will you be getting a drone when the scaffolding comes down?

    • Jessica June 27, 2018 at 11:05 pm - Reply

      I’m very tempted. Wouldn’t it be fun? I wonder if I could attach a hose to it and get it to do the watering as well?

  24. Freda June 27, 2018 at 9:43 am - Reply

    What a wonderful job you are doing there. In spite of rabbits etc. The cornus looks wonderful from above.and the new thatch is very beautiful. You are both to be congratulated on preserving such a wonderful house (and for sharing it here).

    • Jessica June 27, 2018 at 11:12 pm - Reply

      The thatching was a fun job, for us if not for the thatcher especially once the temperature started to rise. They are not all like that, most especially the next one, the bathroom, which I am absolutely dreading.

  25. Jayne Hill June 27, 2018 at 11:39 am - Reply

    Gorgeous, gorgeous; you know how I love the ‘advantageous viewpoint’ stuff as much as you. Similarly, when we had our roof replaced comments were also made that not many folk were up and down the scaffolding as much as we did. I rationalised that we had paid for the darn stuff and I was going to get as much benefit from it as possible!

    Have you by any chance used a very pale green on your walls or is it a trick of the light?

    Last week was admiring (dribbling over) some Cornus kousa at Logan Botanic and thought of you 🙂

    • Jessica June 27, 2018 at 11:17 pm - Reply

      I couldn’t believe the cost of scaffolding! It’s crazy.
      The paint was supposed to be off white but it has a definite green tinge in certain lights. I do quite like it.

  26. Mary June 27, 2018 at 3:23 pm - Reply

    Marvelous! The roof work and the gardens should make you both feel very proud. Not to mention climbing ladders and taking photos. Pretty sure that gave you an adrenaline rush for the day. Thanks for sharing the process in print and pictures.

    • Jessica June 27, 2018 at 11:21 pm - Reply

      I never tired of climbing the scaffolding even after several trips. Fun watching the birds on the feeder from above. Less so the rabbits!

  27. ginaferrari June 28, 2018 at 9:23 am - Reply

    I have been following the progress of your thatching with interest as one of the houses we’ve been considering in our move is a thatched cottage which would be a totally new experience for us.

    • Jessica June 28, 2018 at 9:41 am - Reply

      The best bit of advice I can give you is to get a survey done by someone who knows about thatch and old buildings. You will need information about how much life the roof has left in it, when replacement of the thatch is likely to be due and how much it will cost (for a roof approx the size of ours, £10,000 per side). Assuming the building is old there are all sorts of other potential problems lurking and it really needs an expert who knows what to look for. Inevitably the survey will throw up work that needs to be done. But don’t let that put you off. You should use this information to renegotiate the house price!
      A thatched roof is an ecosystem on its own – prepare for much nocturnal scratching about in the eaves!

  28. restlessjo June 29, 2018 at 6:46 am - Reply

    A tree house- now that’s a thought! Somewhere to drink the wine that’s a tiny bit more secure and still with a bird’s eye view. 🙂 🙂 The thatch is looking splendid, Jess.

    • Jessica June 29, 2018 at 9:54 pm - Reply

      It’s an intriguing thought isn’t it. I had one as a kid and what I remember most is it being invaded by ants. But perhaps that was because I had a secret chocolate stash up there.. wine would be a lot safer!

  29. Indie June 30, 2018 at 10:23 pm - Reply

    I’m am so intrigued with this thatched roof! It’s not something we have over here. It looks beautiful! I am not sure I would have been so brave as you…

    • Jessica July 2, 2018 at 11:26 am - Reply

      I won’t get another chance to climb up scaffolding round the house (I hope!) so I was making the most of it!

  30. snowbird July 1, 2018 at 9:55 pm - Reply

    What wonderful craftsmanship! How I have enjoyed following the process. It certainly does look very smart! Love the bird’s eye views, quite stunning!xxx

    • Jessica July 2, 2018 at 11:29 am - Reply

      Thanks, we’re very pleased with the end result. Now we have to hope it lasts the ten years before it needs to be done again!

  31. CherryPie July 3, 2018 at 6:37 pm - Reply

    The roof is looking good now it is finished. I am glad the birds decided to fly off so the job could be completed.

    • Jessica July 3, 2018 at 11:21 pm - Reply

      It was a close run thing. The thatcher was going to stop and come back later if the birds hadn’t moved. But thankfully it didn’t have to come to that.

  32. Carrie Gault July 8, 2018 at 1:27 pm - Reply

    Heavenly and I love heights so it was fab that you got to go up there and see your garden from an incredible vantage point.
    Do you shoot in RAW? – your photos have so much vibrancy and depth.

    • Jessica July 8, 2018 at 8:43 pm - Reply

      Yes I shoot in RAW, even on my little bridge camera although for all of these either Mike or I used his DSLR. I’m sort of OK with heights but I certainly wasn’t going to miss the opportunity of getting a different angle on the garden!

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