Digging For England


Going down..

At this rate we’ll be making a welcome return to Australia without having to trouble British Airways for a ticket. The picture doesn’t really capture the scale, it’s a 12 foot drop from the path in front of the tool shed (top left) to the lowest level of earth.



And there’s about a foot still to come off.

What I’m finding quite impossible to grasp is the sheer volume of excavated earth. Only the pile to the far left is topsoil, mostly what we’re down to now is shillet, a west country term for layers of thin stone.



Looking at the front face of one of the excavated terraces.



There was something of a cliff edge beyond the level of the lawn and we’re taking the opportunity to smooth this out to something approximating the general contour of the land. But there will still be a surplus, it’s a monumental pile of spoil.

And it’s taking forever. To get into the garden in the first place the digger has to pass through a gap between two low walls that is barely a metre wide. Which obviously limits the size of the digger and turns what could have been a two day job into one which is painfully slow. And therefore eye-wateringly expensive at £250 per day. At this point though there’s very little option other than to keep going. What else would we do with such a massive hole in the ground?



Builders to the left. Landscapers to the right.

The blocks in the foreground will form the inner layer of the new terrace walls, the outer to be constructed from local stone. That is yet to be delivered, goodness knows where. It’s impossible to swing a car around as it is. Given the distance from this point to the new terraces, and the challenging terrain, the landscaper has purchased a brand new motorised wheelbarrow for the job. Now as boys’ toys go, this one has to be up there. Mike, predictably enough, has had his eye on it from afar. And the not so far.. I found him poring over the operating instructions one day last week, “just to see what’s what”. For the sake of keeping the rest of my garden intact I can only pray that the landscaper, like the digger man, takes the sensible precaution of pocketing the keys before leaving the premises each night.



F is for footings..



The previously quite serviceable set of steps down to the patio has become an exit ramp for the digger, courtesy of the ton of earth that has been dumped on top of it. And on the flower border beyond as it happens but in the most trying of circumstances I’m doing my best to be patient. Fortunately the weather has been dry enough to allow reasonable access for the odd al fresco lunch but as you can see, one or two gin and tonics too many of an evening should possibly be avoided.


Itoh Peony 'Pastel Splendor'


Itoh Peony ‘Pastel Splendor’, revelling in what little rain there is.


And finally…. Ta DAAAAA!!!


Strelitzia reginae


Yes I know they grow like weeds in California. And South Africa and Australia. And no doubt in many other places besides.


Strelitzia reginae


But not in Devon. And therefore I must crave your indulgence.

Strelitzia reginae

Grown from a seed planted some six years ago. A bloom from a flower bud which takes six months to mature. Ample reward I reckon.


Strelitzia reginae


Strelitzia reginae, the Bird of Paradise

Cool huh?