The destruction and reconstruction begins

Over the last 7 or 8 weeks my gardening activity has largely consisted on shifting top soil and lugging heavy pots around. My shoulders and arms are looking pretty buff.  All this has been in preparation for getting the cracked retaining wall fixed.

broken wall

one smash of the hammer

Top soil has been lifted, compost bins and plastic greenhouses shifted and the patio completely cleared of benches, pots and plants.

And now the work is under way!

It was quite disconcerting that a single blow of the builder’s mallet had this effect!  Makes me shudder to think of the hours spent directly in the firing line of those bricks.

In just two days of work, the guys have largely removed the old wall, dug out a large part of the patio – and have wisely come up with a proposal that should gain me a few more feet of flat space by adding a small deck extension to the patio level.  Room for more plants!

View with the wall removed

It’s surprising how much view has opened up with the top of the wall having been removed, so it will excellent to replace it with open decking rather than a solid wall.  And hopefully it will mean more sunlight too!

The builders have kindly indulged my rabid recycling tendencies and have put all the old bricks aside so I can level out parts of the garden at a later point. But, in the short term, its mud, rocks, bricks and general chaos!

Mud, stones and chaos

structural destruction for the garden

wall crack

The scariest looking of several cracks in the retaining wall

For nearly 9 years now, we have lived with a crack down the middle of the big retaining wall that keeps the patio from falling down the garden.  Possibly squashing me in the process.

It was on the survey of the house.  I always knew one day I’d have to fix it.  And dammit, it looks like that day is now.

Recent hard winters and monsoon like summer rains have opened up more cracks at the side of the wall.  In recent weeks I have woken up after yet another rain storm expecting to find the top of the garden has slipped to the bottom.

The house itself is not at risk, but still, I’d rather not have a landslide in the garden.

Lots of money is going to have to be spent and lots of destruction is going to be wrecked upon the upper part of the garden, just to get it looking pretty much like it did before.  Minus the scary cracks.

I am usually the most Pollyanna of optimists, but spending money to destroy part of the garden at the very time it is supposed to be looking lovely is more than a little depressing.

But, I am trying to look on the bright side.  I shall get some rubble that I can use to make a level base for a seat at the bottom of the hill.  (The old wonky seat collapsed a few weeks back, as we sat wine in hand.  And we didn’t even spill a drop.)

I shall be able to shift some top soil around and do a bit of levelling out.  I have already emptied a compost bin and spread nice rich leaf mould around.  I’ll have stones that I can use on the stairs I need to build.  I’m even hoping I will have enough rock and waste soil to make a small pond.

Loads of herb cuttings have been taken and plants moved into pots. I will shift the Apple and big Rosemary bush at the last minute and cross my fingers.

A weekend of digging has left things looking pretty bare, but if it stops raining at some point, I will finish up by lifting the top foot of so of soil and transferring it into a builder’s bag for use later.  Then I’ll move onto the border a little lower down.

All the herbs lifted, compost bin removed and rotted leaf mould salvaged

Funny how gardening goes.  I know that it won’t really take that long for it to recover, that it is an opportunity for new planting and it is a good thing to no longer risk being squished by a falling wall. But I wish I wasn’t about to see everything trashed!

At least the front garden is looking lovely.  So if I put maybe if I put my hands over my ears and just keep looking in that direction…