After all the fun of our French holiday, I had to come back to earth with a bump and get on with treating and sealing the wood for the tea house ... so I decided to do another tea house themed post in the hope that I might actually move the blog into real time, rather than flirting with the work we did last summer!
However, in order to get us there, let me take you back in time .......... yes, to last summer, 2008.
The top pond was done - the rocks were all in place and I'd snuck a bit of planting in when Himself wasn't looking! The majority of the stream was completed to our satisfaction, but the last couple of feet below the bottom bridge to the bottom pond still only had rocks plonked on them to keep the slabs from moving.
My next task was to finish moving the vast pile of top soil that I had dug out of the pond and dumped by the laurel. This had made the land at the side of the stream way too high, so the soil had to go - again! One day I'll work out where I'll ultimately want soil or rocks or whatever and put the stuff there in the first place rather than shift it all several times!
In the first photo I'd begun digging out - but I was being a bit cautious about the soil near the streamside rocks. I didn't really move that bit of soil very far - surprise, surprise! I backfilled behind the pond liner that edged the stream and made sure the stones were securely in place. I then pushed soil down all the gaps and made it level with the tops of the rocks so that they looked more bedded-in and permanent.
I shifted about 8-10 inches soil depth over an area of about 15 feet by 8 feet. That's a LOT of soil! I only went as far as the pile of stones by the tree - but it was plenty far enough! Today I've been digging out and moving (sigh!) the last of the soil by the tree.
The pile of tree slices with the red box on top are Himself's solution to keeping the pond filter out of direct sunlight ......... I'd have just put a bag over it, but hey!
Although many things have changed in the Japanese garden since this time last year, neither the stream below the bridge nor the bottom pond have - yet!.............. they STILL aren't finished and STILL look exactly the same as in this photo!!!
Once I'd moved most of the soil I was able to level out what was left and put the stepping stones in place. I carefully placed them all, took the photo, dug the holes, sunk each one into place and got them all nice and level. The next time I looked, some idiot had put them all in a straight line!!!
Can't have been me .......... I don't do straight lines!
Japanese gardens are supposed to take you on a journey of discovery, with new things being revealed as you go along. You're not supposed to see it all immediately - a staight line of stepping stones meant that we'd be able to see the tea house from the bottom path. I knew full well that I'd have to dig 'em all up and reposition them ....... but it turned out that they were quite useful as a short cut as they were - so we left them like that until this spring!
Not a lot was done on the garden over winter - because it was cold and wet with lots of snow and we were doing the renovations on the inside of the house then. You know, I've heard about this thing called 'time off' ............ Anyway, by this spring (- yes, we've made it into 2009!!) we were ready to start again. I set a deadline for completion by my birthday in April. HA HA ! but then we looked at what there still was to do - it was never going to happen by my birthday, not this year's one anyway! Still ... ever the optimist!
We had to clear the topsoil from where the tea house is going to go. This coincided with having some huge laurels chopped right back lower down the garden nearer the house and me taking the opportunity to reshape the border which had expanded along with the laurel. Most, no - ALL the plants, shrubs and bushes in the border had died because they had been smothered by the laurel so the dead remains had to be cleared out - which I did during the week.
We roped in Calamity and the BeanPole to help. I marked out the new border with my trusty hose pipe and transplanted all the plants that were growing in what was going to be grass back into the border area. ( I confess - I also had a trip the the nursery earlier in the week and bought a few goodies so that the border didn't look too empty!)
They dug out the soil from the tea house base and transfered it down the garden to raise the level of the soil next to the new border. Somehow Calamity managed to persuade the BeanPole to do most of the digging and hauling the wheel barrow while Calamity did the easy job of spreading and leveling the soil!
The area was then seeded and Himself borrowed the brassica cage (which wasn't yet in use) and made a cage to protect the grass seed from the pigeons - and very successful it was too!
Whilst all this was going on, we also moved the fruit cage back about a foot to give us a bit more room at the back of the tea house - but there are no photos of that as it took me, Himself, First-Born, Last-Born, Calamity and the BeanPole to shift it, so there was no one to play photographers!
But look what I found in the pond that day - a natural frog spawn heart!
I was quite tired by the Sunday night!