Friday, 5 August 2011

Himself gets expansionist ideas!

Don't get me wrong here - I'm not talking about annexing France or invading Wales, just something a bit more, well, modest really!

Let me take you back to late spring of last year........!

As we stood on the planks on the as-yet-to-be-completed veranda, a strange look came over Himself's face. He paused, then sucked in through his teeth in a 'there's a bit of problem' sort of way before sighing and saying (in a very Eyore sort of voice) "Pond's not big enough".
I coughed and spluttered for a bit before conceding that, actually, he was right! Now that the tea house was up and the extent to which the veranda covered part of the pond was fully obvious, the pond was diminished and out of proportion.

I sighed. I knew what this meant ......I would have to extend the pond!

However, I had a cunning plan. I called on my friend Sarah, who has the strength and endurance of an Amazonian woman! A few weeks later Sarah came over for the day and we dug. I had already cleared the beach, stones and plants from in and around the edge of the pond and Himself and I had freed up the liner and underlay fleece, folded it back over a plank and weighed it down with the stones I'd removed.

We filled innumerable trugs, emptying them into the nearby barrow which Sarah then hauled up the garden to dump on a tarp for use later on.

It was hot, heavy work as it was all sandstone. The topsoil is only about 12-18 inches deep in this part of the garden - yeah, I know ...which fool would want to put a pond where the bedrock is so close to the surface? Same fool that would want to put a pond under trees!!!

That'd be me then!

Pond extension hole finished, work then ground to a halt on that project as other things in the garden took priority.

Ten months later, with a party deadline looming, we realised that we couldn't put it off any longer just because we weren't quite sure how to do it. So, taking a deep breath........
we built a temporary pond on the lawn using our largest groundsheet, some random planks and old bricks. We used the pond pump to take the water out of the top pond and into the temporary pond.

Taking enough water out to get the level to well below the original shelf level so that we could excavate under the liner where the old and new parts would join up.

We cleared out all the zillions of leaves and bucketloads of gunk that had accumulated in the hole whilst we'd ignored it and Himself barrowed back down the garden some of the sandstone that Sarah had barrowed up last year.

We then put it all through a griddle to separate out sand and stones - the stones were then used to make foundations in a new path I was building elsewhere (all will be revealed on that little task later!)

and the sand was used to line the hole, the new shelf and the bit under the liner where the two parts would meet.

Whilst Himself was grovelling about under the liner, I took the opportunity to sort out the 'rockage' in front of the waterfall as I'd never been totally satisfied with it. I cleared everything out except for the rocks that we'd hoisted into place - I'm not daft, I wasn't even going to think about moving them!

I cleaned the base, put new fleece underlay in place and had a happy time arranging new rocks until I was satisfied with how they looked. The frog who lives behind the left-hand big rock kept popping up to glower at me to try and get his water back, but we weren't to be rushed on this.

Somewhere along the line it was decided that the bottom of the pond ought to be de-gunked ....a luuurvely job!

and I had to be very careful not to lean too far over !

The bit that had put us off doing the extension was the joining of the new liner to the existing liner. In the end, it was just like doing a giant 15ft long bicycle tyre puncture repair! I haven't got any photos of the process as we were more concerned about getting it right than getting it photographed! We had to clean, de-grease and scour the old liner, apply glue to the edges of both liners, wait for it to go tacky then stick a special sealant strip one one side, using a decorators' roller to press it down and get any air bubbles out, whilst making sure that there were no kinks, twists or creases in the liner or sealant strip - easier said than done when the liner isn't a straight edge and you're pressing down on sand!

Himself had, naturally, worked out how to get round this. He used chalk to mark where to glue the liner and created a solid base underneath where we were working by using a strip of hardboard propped up on wood - with stakes driven into the base of the extension to make sure it was secure (never knowingly overcomplicated or over engineered!) to rest the liner edges on and give us something solid to work against. He's good!

We then had to position the 2nd edge on top of the sealant strip, hold it in place, peel off the special backing paper and roller the 2nd liner onto the 1st liner all at the same time ...a tricky business!

It all then had to be left overnight to go off - but covered by a tarp in case of rain as we weren't allowed to let it get wet at this point.

The following day was crunch time. We laid out the fleece underlay then carefully unfurled the joined liner and eased it out into position - you can see the fold where the two liners join, running between the 2 large rocks of the original pond. Then we pumped the water back into the pond and waited with baited breath to see if it leaked.

Of course it didn't leak - Himself was in charge!

A couple of weekends later, when the water hadn't gone down at all, Himself declared that he was satisfied with the seal and started making the pond edging. He excavated enough sand and soil away to be able to put wooden strips in to fold the liner over and give a good, solid edge for me to put rocks and stuff on - naturally the rough wood had strips of fleece on top so that the liner wouldn't get ripped.

He built a measuring 'thing' to ensure that the edge was level all the way round.

Then he tucked the liner into place and backfilled with sand and soil.

Me? I was busy on the inside of the tea house - but I was happy with my waterfall rockage!

It's ended up a bit of a long post, so I'll leave the arty-farty finishing off stuff we did until next time!


Thomas said...

It's looking sooooooooo beautiful! A work of art I would say. Expanding that pond must have been a tough job but I'm sure the fish will appreciate it.

Sue@G.L. Allotments said...

I remember when we made our pond deeper and had to catch the fish to pop in a temporary home in a paddling pool on the patio. I leaned over with a net whilst Martyn held on to me feet. The fish were less than accommodating!

Pondside said...

What a lot of work - but it sure looks like it was worth it because it's lovely.
At this time of year our ponds start to get low, as they are all winter rain-fed.

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Thomas - and thank you. Wait until you see the completed landscaping as well....I have to admit to feeling quite proud of that bit!
It was hard work, but it is lovely - and very peaceful and relaxing too. I waited until we'd finished all the work around and above the pond before I got the fish, but they do seem very happy in there.

Hi Sue -'ve given me an amazing picture in my head now of you and Martyn trying to catch your fish!!! Sounds like something ma and Himself would do too! :)

BilboWaggins said...

Tick all that apply: strewth, wow, good grief, amazing, does he have a spare brother?

Amazing amount of work, looks fabulous and of course, Himself was right, the pond did become too small once the tea house was built.

At some point I must email you and explain all the Trouble you are causing at Bag End ... ☺☺ The little pond in the Cottage Garden that we're currently building is only one of a multiple number which are planned. The rest are destined for the currently overgrown and wild area at the other side. Your own civil engineering exploits have been giving me Ideas (and Hobbits with Ideas are nearly as dangerous as Reincarnated Victorian Engineer/Inventors).

Liz said...

Hi Liz,

It looks way more complicated than I had imagined! However, it was well worth it as the pond does look lovely now, and the fish are very mesmerising to watch :)

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Pondside. You're right, it was worth the work. The tea house, pond and garden have much better proportions now in relation to one another ......the Japanese garden has 'grown' a bit to accomodate the pond expansion, but I'll tell you more about that in another post! :P

Have you had all the mega-hot weather as well this summer? That will have affected your water levels too I guess?

I do get some water loss when I run the stream - some evaporation from spray, some taken up by plants trailing in the stream, but I confess to cheating and topping up the bottom pond with the hose pipe now and again! A bit naughty given our very dry conditions, but I don't do it very often - only when it gets so low that the pump would be affected if I ran the stream. Oh for some rain! (Not a phrase you'd commonly expect to hear from a Brit in summer!)

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Bilbo do make me chuckle! Sorry for the trouble we're causing at Bag End with our exploits - honest!:P

Here it's the Gnomes wot have the Ideas and do the grunt work and my Reincarnated Inventor who sorts out the Technical .....I don't 'do' Technical!

We'll come down and help you dig out the ponds in your wilderness area - and Himself can talk Technical with you! :)

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Liz - I'm so glad you liked it.It IS way more complicated ....Himself just can't resist complicated! I go for the straightforward, simple approach. Mind you, I know that Himself's stuff will always work.

I know what you mean about the fish - I could happily while away an hour or so just sitting there watching them!

I was really glad you came the other night. It was great to finally meet you and have time to chat. Hope we can do it again sometime - and maybe have a macro photography training session?!

Rare Lesser Spotted said...

Great story and pictures. In my experience, and I've had a few ponds, they are NEVER big enough. I always think to myself 'if I build this 50% bigger than I planned it to be, it should be okay.'

Kathryn said...

OMG, you two are such an amazing PAIR! I wish I could have watched the whole process! So much to learn! Amazing vision and fortitude and can't wait to see the photos that will follow! Well done!! xoxo

Shady Gardener said...

Liz (and Himself) Wow! You are always so good about providing all the details... gives me great mental pictures. :-) It's really looking Wonderful!!! Looking forward to the next post.

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi RLS. I think you're dead right about building ponds a good 50% bigger than you think you need! The bottom pond - currently a hole with liner and water in it, is going to be made bigger ....once Himself has finished building the reservoir tank to supply the top pond and run the stream without the bottom pond's levels going down and once I've moved the stone steps and path that are in the way of my expansion! It's never straightforward in our garden :P

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Kathryn - we make a good team, that's for sure! Believe me, it's best to see it in post sized chunks. The tea house, pond and Japanese garden has been an ongoing project for about 4 years now and the pond extension has been happening in fits and starts since LAST June - I suspect you might have got a bit bored of waiting! xx

Hi Shady. I'm glad you like the details. I'm never quite sure whether people would find them boring or not!
One day you can come and see it for yourself :D

Alison said...

Hello Nutty Gnome, Thanks for visiting my blog and for all your compliments! The changes you made to your pond look like a lot of hard work, kudos to you and Himself! It looks great, but it made me tired just reading about it. Wish I had an Amazonian friend to help me out in the garden. My husband is not the DIY type at all, either.

Your teahouse is lovely. Off to read more!

organicgardendreams said...

Wow, that was really a big project and so well done! You are definitively gardening on a large scale. Can't wait to see the end result, when the finishing touches at the pond are done. I am sure it will be inedible beautiful! Great description of the whole project, by the way!

OLDCROWS3 said...



leavesnbloom said...

Please send Himself to my garden - my pond needs renovating and he's the man to do it :)

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Alison - thank you! Extending the pond WAS hard work, but well worth it! I will be doing a post about finishing it off, but that work was interwoven with finishing off the tea house, so the posts will have to be interwoven as well...but bear with me!

Himself and I are both good at DIY - I do ideas, demolition and finishing off, Himself does the technical, precision stuff that bores me rigid but is vital to everything working properly!
Sarah, my Amazonian friend is wonderful. We have a sort of 'shared work' arrangement. She does my heavy digging and I do the demolition in the house she's renovating. In fact I was over at her house yesterday ....I took down a ceiling and knocked the plaster off a wall for her! :)

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Christina and welcome to my blog (and my world!). One of my friends described my gardening as 'extreme gardening'! I'm not sure the whole garden will ever be truely finished, but I love working in it, so that doesn't matter really :)

I'm so glad you like the descriptions of what/how we do things. I've always liked knowing how things are done, so I figured other people might like that too!

Lots still to come on forthcoming posts about where we've got up to, so I hope you'll pop back and keep reading!

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Granny and thank you for visiting my blog. Maybe me and Himself ought to come out to Florida and do a makeover on your garden?!!! :D

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Leavesnbloom - you can borrow him as soon as he's finished all the work here - is that okay?! :D

Ciccia said... certainly don't need to hire anyone do you? So much work, I got tired just reading about it too, I cannot imagine how hard it must have been and how long it took. Thank you for stopping by. I'm following you immediately from Rome. After all this hard work you all need lots of follow me and you can get your strength back, I have plenty of food!:) My daughter has a sweet tooth so you can find tempting pictures of sweets on her blog. I'll tell her to stop over your place, I'm sure she'll follow you. She loves hard-working people! She just likes to give orders:)

Patsi said...

Sounds like you did the right thing extending and getting all that hard work done now. So hoping next year you'll be relaxing enjoying the tea house and pond.

Can't wait to see the finishing touches.

Birds, Bees, Berries, and Blooms said...

Someday I want to put in a pond and now I know where to go for information and inspiration! Love your blog, your pond is wonderful, as is your yard. I really enjoyed the post about the party! Glad you wandered over to my porch I enjoyed your visit.

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Ciccia. Thank you for your lovely comments - and for following me. My Japanese garden and tea house was a 6 week summer holiday project 4 years ago and it's still not finished!!!

I'll certainly have a look at your daughter's blog. Sounds like we'd get on well together as we both like giving orders! :P

Hi Patsi. It was definitely right to extend it, even though it was a bit tricky at times. I love sitting on the tea house veranda (which I've still got to post about!) after work of an evening, or taking my lunch up there to just sit and watch the garden, the birds and the fish - lovely!
I've just got to find a leak that only happens when the top pond's water level is raised up to run the stream! I suspect it's somewhere on the extended bit - I've probably squashed a bit of new edge down somewhere and water escapes over the top when the levels rise! That'll keep me out of mischief for the day!

Hi B4 and thanks for popping in. We have been known to do site visits about new ponds.....just saying'! :)
The party was great fun - as a one off! It was also a great catylist for getting loads of garden jobs finished off so that everywhere looked the best it could be for the party! Still a long way to go to get it totally as I want it but, as we're never moving house again, I can take my time!

catmint said...

impressive work, and the end result looks fabulous. I laughed at the reference to Eeyore. When it comes to ponds though surely it was more likely to be Jeremy Fisher or Ratty?

Tina Marie said...

Its really beautiful. It looks like the things I dream up but never have the courage to attempt. the fact that you did the work must make it feel even better to enjoy.

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Catmint. Thanks :)
Glad the Eyore reference made you laugh. I agree that jeremy Fisher or Ratty would have been more pond-appropriate, but Himself is far more of an Eeyore!!!

Hi Tina Marie and welcome - thanks for popping in. Glad you like it - I am proud of it ...except for a really frustrating leak that I haven't found yet because it only happens when the water level in the top pond goes up to run the stream.....:(

I think that if you have a dream about things to do in your garden you should just do it. At best it'll work and look wonderful. At worst you can always fill in the pond, dig up the plant or change it! Go for it! :)

The Sage Butterfly said...

That is absolutely one of the most beautiful ponds (especially with the tea house) I have ever seen. You all did a great job! We hope to add a small pond to the garden someday. I will surely come back to this post to take notes. Thanks!

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Sage Butterfly. Wow - thank you!...and it's not even finished yet!!! :)
There will be a follow-up post shortly showing the fully finished off pond, which I hope you will also enjoy.
Thanks for visiting!

sweetbay said...

What an ambitious project! Can't wait to see more. I love your teahouse and your header photo is gorgeous.

Nutty Gnome said...

Thanks Sweetbay - yep, we can do ambitious! It's all down to not knowing what you're actually taking on when you start a project!!! (and not listening to Himself when he patiently tries to point out what my big ideas really involve!)

The tea house is indeed a thing of beauty - just wait until you see the inside and the new colour I've painted it outside! The header photo was taken in spring - I really should do a summer photo, but I love this one too much and never tire of looking at it!

joey said...

You and Himself (and your ambitious/joyfull life together) fills my heart with JOY!

Nutty Gnome said...

Aaah Joey, you're a love - and you've got a heart as big as a bucket with all the people you've gathered into it! :)
One day my friend we'll meet up and be joyful together :D

Rob (ourfrenchgarden) said...

That was always going to be the tricky part, gluing the old liner to the new. He was right to waity a few weeks to make sure the join hadn't failed.

Pond magic it is then. I can't believe you sifted all that sandy soil. Any gold.

We're forecast 41C Sunday, exceptional and not welcomed. I may buy an aqua lung and some lead boots and sit on the bottom of the swimming pool 'til evening.

Hope all is well with you all.

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Rob - Himself is usually right on issues technical!
Yep, we sifted all the sand. Nope,sadly no gold - just lots of sand and stones :P

41C?! sheesh, that's hot. I think I'd be on the bottom of the pool with you if I was at your house on Sunday - lets hope the forecasters are wrong and it's not going to be that hot!

We're fine thanks. The 4 of us are off to Marrakech soon, but it's only (!) going to get to about 35C! We're really looking forward to going :)

Rob (ourfrenchgarden) said...

Ah Marrakech

We were there in 2003. I loved it, it's culturally SO different. We used to go into the souk and get lost, never a problem as you can always find your way out, but don't get ripped of by a 'guide'. They'll take you to all their relatives shops and you'll spend a fortune. It happened to us although in fairness we enjoyed it, mad as that sounds. We were taken to the apothecary which was extraordinary and finished up in a carpet shop. That's where the money kicks in, those carpets are not cheap, they are beautiful however, just haggle like crazy, it's expected.

I definitely reccomend you take a tour on one of the many pony/donkey and traps. It's a great way to see the old medina. If you can, see if you can have a walk around the gardens at La Mamounia hotel- very exotic, and of course the Majoelle gardens.

Lucky you, I'm very jealous, Marrakech is a wonderful place and the Morrocans are some of the nicest people you can ever meet.

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healingmagichands said...

Wow. Just wow! Your teahouse and pond are wonderful. Love the story of the expansion.

Blogger has not been allowing me to post comments for quite some time, so I have had to be a lurker, perforce.

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Rob. Marrakech was just as you described it ...mad! We invented a new verb 'to souk' - and got very good at it too! Didn't bother with guides - except on a day trip to the cascades at Ozoud and I fell in love with the Majorelle Gardens!

You're so right about the people too, they were great. We stayed in a gorgeous riad in the medina, about 10 minutes walk from the Jemmaa El Fna(or 3 hours the 1st time we did it!!!)and were very glad of the plunge pool when it topped 40* ...I thought of you at that point!

There'll be a short post to bore you with soon :)

Nutty Gnome said...

Hello and thank you - I'm sorry I don't know your name as it's in Greek, but thank you for visiting.

Hi HealingHandsMagic - that explains why I've not seen you around so much then! Glad it's fixed now :)

More to come on the finishing off of the expansion and all the other things we've been up to in the garden, so pop back soon :)