Monday, 9 February 2009

Right ....where had I got to? Oh yes, path building!

In order to explain the next bit, I've had to go back in time to two springs ago - to 2007 - before we'd really got very far on digging out the top pond. The work on the garden was not done in any logical order (suprise, suprise!), it was done in my order and often depended on what I felt like doing and how bored (or aching) I was with working on a particular bit - but mostly to try to get some shape and structure in place so that everyone else could begin to understand my still apparently unfathomable design plan!

This is looking north up the garden. The bottom pond, where the spade is sticking up, has been partially dug out by one of Last-Born's friends (thanks Luke!) and stayed like that for about a year, but at least it showed where the pond was. Himself is digging away in the top pond.
The paths form a sort of wiggly Y shape with a right-handed curve coming off the bottom of the Y. The bottom path forms the curve at the bottom of the Y. The path enters the garden at the right hand edge of this photo behind the bamboos. It then crosses the as yet to be dug stream which is marked out by the (just visible) hosepipe and curves round to go between the circle of stones (that currently looks like a mini Stonehenge but is, in fact, going to be my tai chi training circle) and the pile of soil that will become the island of rocks. It then seperates roughly where the green trug is. One path goes to the right of the top pond up towards the piles of tree trunk slices (long story!), which is where the tea house will eventually be, and the other path goes to the left towards the pink trug and wheelbarrow to meet up with the hideous crazy paving path, which forms the top route into the garden.
The left-hand path meets the current path immediately below where the grass begins, just to the left of the barrow. The right-hand path will have to wait until I've redistributed the mountains of soil at the right-hand side of the photo! (approximately a year!!)

Himself working on the pond, whilst I dig the footings for the path.
It's quite deep for a footpath (a minor bone of contention as it was Himself's idea, but I had to dig it...!) but we desperately needed to :
a) gain more topsoil to get the levels right and
b) get rid of all the sandstone rubble we'd accumulated from digging up bedrock! and
c) it kept Himself very happy that we had remained cost and waste neutral so far!

More path footings. That year, work was also dictated by where the shade was! I'm in the shade from our cooking apple tree. we couldn't work on the pond beyond about 2.30pm as it was just too hot in the direct sunlight.

The footings were varying depths depending on the levels we needed around different parts of the garden. The two wooden posts are levels markers and the clear pipe is filled with water and was our giant spirit level.
For all I tease Himself, I could not have done this project without his mathamatical wizardry and attention to detail. I would not have known where to start to work out what the levels needed to be, let alone known how to do them - so, for all of that, and way, way more (including working blind because you still didn't really understand what I was up to!), I thank you from the bottom of my heart and pond my love!

Yes, we have a bridge!
This is the bottom bridge, below the island. The path has been roughly dug out and comes in at the top right of the photo beyond the pink trug. It'll meet the bridge, then come off this side at a slight angle so that it can come closer to the tai chi circle, where it will stay a constant distance from the circle but match the curve of the perimeter until it is at the point where it can split.

Looking up over the bottom pond to see the stream route. It goes under the bridge (obviously!) then curves to the right before looping left round the back of the island. Poor old Himself so desperately wanted nice clean, straight lines everywhere and I insisted on curves - guess which are easier to do!!


gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

The more work I see you and Himself putting into the pond the more I can't wait to see it finished. You are putting a lot of time and work into this and it's going to show. I really enjoy reading your posts!

Rob (ourfrenchgarden) said...

Nobody can accuse you of being fearfull when it comes to landscaping. I'll send you a Greek Urn when you finish!

Nutty Gnome said...

Catherine - thank you for your lovely comments. It's great to know that people are enjoying what I'm writing about. I'm really enjoying doing the blog (suprising really, considering I'm a bit of a techno-phobe!)and it's been a really good way of reminding myself of all the work we've done so far. It's a bit like having a baby - once it's there you forget all the pain that was involved!!!

Rob - I'll hold you to your promise, I can always find space for a greek urn! , I already have plans for other 'little' projects to keep me out of mischief when we have finished this bit of the garden. Funnily enough, they seem to involve lots of digging and landscaping too...!

lili11 said...

I'm trying to redo my garden. But, mine is very small. I couldn't wait until it's done. Looking at you working on yours encourage me to work on mine faster. Gardening is such a joy. Good luck on yours.Blossom Blooms

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Lili11 and welcome to you! Yes, we've got a large garden, but the only way to cope with it is to divide it mentally into 'project'-sized chunks, then each area becomes smaller and more able to be dealt with. The Japanese garden certainly hasn't been a fast process, but I am so enjoying seeing the design in my head appearing on the ground. I love gardening - and it sounds like you do too. Take time to enjoy the process!

camellia said...

Another impressed bystander right here! You remind me of my own, planned, not executed, path projects. I think it's all that soil that holds me back...

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Camellia. Don't worry about the soil, there are always plenty of places to put it in a garden! I susgest you mark your path with a hosepipe, stare at it for a few weeks, re-arrange as necessary, stare some more and only then start to dig - you have to build up to these things gradually!
Don't feel that you have to complete it all in one go - my paths took weeks (and weeks)because, lets face it, digging can be a bit tedious at times - even when there's going to be something good at the end of it!
Take a big, deep breath and go for it!

catmint said...

hi ng, I am so impressed by your ambitious project to create a japanese garden and the energy you have. I love the serenity of Japanese gardens too.

catmint said...

actually, it's funny, my husband has the same name as yours!

Carolynn said...

I love a good, winding garden path with little surprises around the corner. That's sure a lot of work you're going to there. I'm sure it will be absolutely wonderful when you get it completed...if a garden can ever be that.

Nutty Gnome said...

Hello Catmint, nice to meet you - thank you for dropping in. Yes, it is an ambitious project - but I hadn't realised quite how ambitious when I started. (perhaps as well really!)

I have to confess that energy is frequently lacking on a Monday morning after a weekend's loving labour!!

I am aiming for serenity in there as the Tea House will be my therapy room to do reiki and reflexology. I'm hoping it'll be big enough to do my 1:1 tai chi teaching sessions too ...but I daren't change the plane AGAIN, Himself would have apoplexy!

Himself got his nickname because, years ago - when we were 'courting', my dad used to refer to him as "the man Himself" - and it stuck! Many of our friends still refer to him as Himself!

Carolyn - welcome back! This path will have lots of surprises round corners too - I have a collection of small statues, granite lamps and 'stuff' waiting to be put in place once I get to that stage ....which I will at some point!
Himself has just bought a brand new posh saw-thing to cut up all the posts and beams for the tea house and has cleared the garage for it to become the workshop once the weather warms up a bit .. so there is hope!

Shady Gardener said...

What a Wonderful project you've been working on!! I appreciate the amount of work it takes... and YOU must really appreciate himself and the effort he's taking! :-)

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Shady, nice to see you again. I'm so glad you like what we're doing ....and understand the amount of work involved (if only I'd known!).

Himself is a star, no doubt. I do as much as I can, but ever since the rock-related hernia incident(oh yes, I tried to split myself in half!) I can't lug quite so much heavy stuff about or work for quite so long, so having Himself as muscle - as well as quantity surveyor, mathematician, technical wizard, levels expert etc, etc has been brilliant - I simply couldn't have done it without him! He is truely magnif!

VP said...

Wow, what a major undertaking! I wouldn't even know where to start, so well done you - and Himself of course!

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi VP, thanks for popping in!
I had the concept of a Japanese Garden about 5 years ago and the actual design gradually built itself in my head as I considered what elements I'd like in there. When I finally got round to putting it on paper, it really was on the back of an envelope!
Despite the fact that I was the only one with a coherent idea of what I was trying to achieve, we have ended up with something that very closely resembles my ideal!

Me and Himself make a good team - I have the ideas and do demolision. Himself does all the structural, mathematical and fiddly technical stuff and I get to do 'arty-farty' finishing-off! It works well.

BilboWaggins said...

I know I'm late to the party but am thoroughly enjoying reading about your garden so have gone back to the beginning. Don't feel obliged to respond to my ramblings, particularly this one which goes along the lines of:

"strewth, and I thought *I* had a load of digging to do!"

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Bilbo - actually, you going back to the begining means that I've popped back to the begining too.... and I'd forgotten quite how much work we've done in the past few years. I suspect that big gardening projects are a bit like childbirth - the joy of the achievement makes you forget the pain involved in getting there!!!

BilboWaggins said...

It's very easy to forget, and surprising how quickly the mind plays tricks. That's one of the main reasons I started my blog the week we moved into Bag End; when I look back now and see how it was just three years ago even I am amazed how much we've done!

I also find it helpful to look back on the days when I am over-tired, bruised, exhausted and don't feel like carrying on - it can be quite motivating to see just what we have already achieved. Is it a bit sad to go back and read your own blog {giggle?}

Nutty Gnome said...

You're so right!
We had 4 local bloggers round last night and I had casually describing clearing a border as though it was a half hour job. It was only later that I remembered that said border had actually been about 60 ft long by about 12 ft deep and had taken me several weekends of backbreaking toil to clear out!

It IS motivating to look back on your achievements and, no, not a bit sad ....she said, having just gone back reading her own blog! *chuckle*!