Wall To Wall


 

The terraces in front of the house.

In need of a winter clear up, certainly. I’m hoping that the sudden and very welcome appearance of the sun, albeit with attendant cold and frosty nights, will dry out the soil sufficiently for me to get out there. But the point of putting this photo up here is not to demonstrate just how lax the gardener has been, however valid an observation that might be. No, it’s a reminder of that other project we started way back last Spring. And given how long it’s been I thought a quick recap before we bring it up to date.

 
 

 

Through the dense mass of tree growth you may just catch a glimpse of the house, this shot taken probably a couple of years ago now. The terraces of the previous image lie hidden from view beyond the old greenhouse. A beech in the foreground and beyond it an oak, the latter stood less than three feet from the house wall and, at that point, was still expanding. I hated the thought of removing an oak tree but if we’d left it the house foundations would eventually have been undermined. It was already blocking out light from the kitchen.

 
 

 

Enter the digger man. May, 2019.

Our objective was to replicate the terraces in front of the house with a mirror image here, giving me more flat planting space (a precious commodity when one lives on a 45 degree slope) and, with the removal of the oak tree and the beech, opening up the whole area around the house. Let there be light! The plan was to create a new set of steps between the two banks of terraces with a new greenhouse and raised beds on the lower level. Well so far so good.

 
 

 

Things started to go awry when the stone arrived for the new walls.

We’d opted for a local quarry in the hope that the stone would be a good match to that used in the original terraces, however many years ago. And so it seemed at first. The trouble came when Mike took a pressure washer to the heap of stone to remove a thick coating of mud. Ironstone. Not the subtle grey it had initially appeared. Orange.

 
 

 

Well we had stone in abundance, it hadn’t been cheap and so we persisted. Probably for too long as it turned out. You keep hoping that all will turn out right even when in your heart of hearts you know it won’t. Especially once the greenhouse wall started to go up (far left). For that we’d had to use a different type of stone, building stone which is flat on all sides, given the very small margin for error if the greenhouse frame was going to fit snugly on top. It became increasingly obvious that the two variants of stone really didn’t sit happily side by side.

There was nothing else for it but to take a very deep breath and reach for the kango..

 
 

 

And I think this is the point we were up to when I last wrote about the terrace walls. The orange stone won’t be entirely wasted. On the side of a hill the opportunity for more steps is almost endless and in this damp climate so is the need for weatherproof paths.

 
 

 

The new walls as they stand today, now in the same stone we used for the greenhouse.

The proportions appear a little strange at this stage of construction. The third wall down from the top has another two or three courses to go which will make the second wall down look a little less tall. And of course the whole thing urgently needs softening with plants!

 
 

 

All being well I shall start the planting in March. Just about the right time to harvest divisions from elsewhere in the garden, plus the many cuttings taken last year and plants already grown from seed. To rule out the possibility of future plant fair excursions would of course be foolhardy but the more plants I can raise for free at this stage in the game the better it will be!