Day 1 – Demolition Man has arrived with his helpmate, Builder’s Bum! Look out Eucalyptus, your hours are numbered!
Scary stuff, watching a tree coming down in one’s own garden. I’m glad that they seemed to know what they were doing. The lad went up the tree (with no harness I might add) and sawed off each branch in turn, which came crashing down to the ground. One stubborn branch refused to be shifted, but Demolition Man managed somehow to chop it from below with some sort of long handled tool, and it was parted from its parent. Then they sawed the trunk in half, offering to save the logs for my friends to burn in their wood-burning stoves. He then carved up the trunk into manageable sizes so that they could be transported in a car boot.
Next day, Saturday, I had an unscheduled visit from three good friends, who I had contacted the day before to see if they wanted my logs. Soon my Eucalyptus logs were loaded into the back of Don’s car, which smelt absolutely awesome. Apparently logs have to season for about eighteen months before they can be burned, but I am looking forward to the ceremonial Eucalyptus burning evening around Don’s new wood burning stove in his revamped lounge. David will be coming round again on Monday to recycle my dog run panels into guinea pig enclosures, and to pick up the remainder of the Eucalyptus trunk. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, it seems. I am glad my stuff will be going to a good home. I’m back at work on Monday, and dreading what I will not be coming home to, or rather what won’t be there when I get home. It’s hard parting with old friends, even if they have outstayed their welcome! 😥
Day 2 – I went to work before the guys started demolishing the Clematis Montana over the top of my garage roof and dog run. They knew that I had planned demolishing half of the dog run, but the bit near the house was still needed. At lunchtime, I returned to walk Myschka and to see what devastation had occurred in my absence. As I expected, Demolition Man said that the dog run roof would have to come down, as it was almost falling down. More money will now need to be spent on replacing the enclosure!
Day 3 – Tipping down with rain. The already bedraggled guys arrived mob-handed, complete with digger. Soon there was little left of my garden, the pond had been emptied and the digger was ripping apart anything in its path. I just couldn’t bear to look any longer, turned my back on it and went to watch daytime TV, wishing I could have gone to work instead. Eventually, in the afternoon the sun came out, but my garden did not look any better. I just have to keep thinking that it will all be okay in a couple of weeks. It will, won’t it?
Day 4 – Weather okay first thing, but the forecast was heavy rain for most of the day, so I decided to go to work and leave the workmen to it, promising to come home at lunchtime to see if there were any problems. When I came home at 1.30pm it was absolutely tipping down with rain and everything had been secured with no sign of the men, so I assumed they had abandoned work for the day, and left Myschka in the garage in case she got caught short, because there was no way I could take her out in a downpour, with a gale blowing. When I got home that night, there was no sign that any more work had been done since lunchtime, but there was a load of timber propped up against the wall that hadn’t been there before.
Day 5 – The timber had been bought by the guys the day before during the deluge. They had decided there was nothing they could do outside, so made themselves useful in the wood yard. They duly stripped out the two remaining fence panels, tidied up the adjoining walls and proceeded to erect two fence panels. I was amazed to see them cut out notches in the uprights to hold the v-shaped cross members of the fence. They were halfway through nailing on the panel strips, using their spirit level as they did so, when Stuart, the boss, arrived. I asked him why the fences were so high compared with the walls, and if there was going to be trellis over the wall between them. Stuart said he hadn’t taken into account that there was a foot high wall that the fence was to be standing on when he had designed a six foot fence, and got the lads to remove the kickboard at the bottom, which was not necessary. The fence still stands proud of the walls, but so does next door’s, and I could use the extra privacy until I have some growth in the shrubbery and climbing plants. The good news is that the wood has been specially treated and should not need painting for 20 years, unless I want to change the colour. Stuart looked at the collapsed dog run and dismissed my idea of having another pergola built (£350 on line, excluding labour). He said, to cut down on the extra costs, they would fix a couple of trellis panels around the gate posts, and that would be all I would need to contain my dog. Maybe I’ll look at having the pergola later, if I don’t have enough privacy from next door.
The afternoon was spent with Brett, the foreman, continuing with the fencing while the lad (Three Sugars) was tasked with humping my bigger rocks around the garden ready for the rockeries that I wanted. Tomorrow they are apparently going to lay the foundations for the path and summer house base, so hopefully I should not be needed and can go to work without worrying about what they are getting rid of that I want to keep. All the old small rocks have gone now and diggerman Brett was digging away at my old gravel and membrane, hacking away at old Eucalyptus roots and generally rendering my old garden to its origins, while the lad took away all the old junk to the tip. Maybe I should make the decision to part with my hammock at this point.
Now I have got over the stress caused by losing 25 years worth of my garden, I am looking forward to seeing the new garden evolve. Meanwhile I am wondering what I can use to cover up next door’s awful boundary eyesores. Willow screening perhaps? £20 per 6′ x 6′ panel. Maybe a lick of green paint will renovate them, but they look damaged to me. I suppose in the end I will have to pay for a new fence all the way down, as Mr Nasty-next-door isn’t ever likely to. Maybe Stuart will have some ideas.
Now I have a clearer view of the garden, I’m thinking about a potting shed / greenhouse to hide Mr Nasty’s monstrosity. I don’t think a whole glass greenhouse would hide much, and would need more glass maintenance anyway. A potting shed would suffice to grow my seedlings and tomatoes…………more expense! So I went out looking for a potting shed and found one in Wyevale Garden Centre 6′ x 8′ which seemed the right size for me £799. I suppose erection is extra. It never ends!
I got home to find the lads had gone for the night, but had carved out the shape of the pathway that the building team were going to lay the next day.
Day 6 – I went to work and left the lads to it. I came home at lunchtime to find the footings of the pathway down, but it was tipping down with rain, so I didn’t expect much more work to be done during the afternoon. However, I came home in the evening to find half the pathway laid and part of the summerhouse base.
Saturday – During the night we had a storm, and I awoke to find two fence panels down between me and next door, a fence panel down the other side of the garden, my gazebo in a state of collapse and various other signs of storm devastation. I suppose I shouldn’t complain as my p
roblems were fairly minor compared with those who were in the midst of the flooding devastations down south and in the west.
The fence footings were part of the garden project anyway, but as these fence panels keep coming down due to there being no shrubbery protection on the other side of the fence from whence the prevailing wind comes, I am now considering a more sturdy solution to the garden boundary, like a wall – more expense! My neighbour came out and I mentioned my plan, but there was no offer forthcoming to go halves with me! It seems I have to maintain both boundary fences, as Mr Nasty, the other side, will never put his hand in his pocket to maintain HIS boundary, and his fence has come down too, as my dog run was holding it up before. I will have to ask Stuart how much he will charge to do all the perimeter fences. At least that will solve part of the eyesore problems on the east side of my property. Grrrr!
Mental note to self to forget ideas of having a summer house or potting shed this year. I will need to work another year to pay for the extended garden project! Each day that I sit looking at the garden I get another costly idea. Nothing changes!
Day 7 – Monday – time to go to work and no sign of the builders yet. However, I had an appointment with Stuart at 1.30pm to discuss the fences, so I duly returned at lunchtime to meet him. I was horrified when he gave me a rough estimate of £1500 to properly fence the whole run of fences between me and Mr Fireman, and as much again to replace Mr Nasty’s rotten fences. However Stuart said he would give me a quote to make good the existing fences, only replacing two of Mr Nasty’s panels, and also re-erect my gazebo that had blown down in the wind on Friday night. At the end of day 7 the paving was complete, and the water feature and pond had been positioned.
Day 8 – There was nothing I was really needed for on Tuesday, and foreman Brett told me that they expected the whole job to be complete by the end of Thursday, so I decided to go to work and leave them to the fence repairs, which were duly completed by the time I got home in the evening. Brett said that the reason the concrete post had capsized was because Fencer Jack (Brent’s “highly recommended” Polish workman) had not bothered to take out the original concrete that had held the previous wooden posts in place, and had only put in six inches of concrete to hold the new post! Lesson learned there! The dog run fencing had gone, the wobbly gate post between me and Mr Nasty had been reset and and I was told that six tonnes of gravel would be arriving the next day at 10 am. I tried to picture six tonnes of gravel. Is that the equivalent of six cubic yards? I can picture that okay. Having Googled it, I am none the wiser! I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.
Day 9 – I almost changed my mind about dumping my hammock as I saw it disappearing out of the garden, but my New Year’s resolution of “out with the old, in with the new” won. I am not good at parting with old friends, and I had spent many happy hours on that hammock until it became impossible to get down to the end of the garden.
The three guys, Brett, Three Sugars and Builder’s Bum, were discussing what to do with the stubborn remains of my Eucalyptus tree as they laid the weed resisting membrane over the whole of the area to be gravelled. Builder’s Bum was back again to help out. What is it with this current fashion of wearing trousers and pants at half mast?
I took Myschka for a walk to escape the dismantling of the remaining junk in my dog run and returned to find Brett, the foreman, sawing through Mr Nasty’s piece of plastic roofing that was overhanging my garden. I wonder what recriminations I am in store for from Mr Nasty, once these burly young men have gone. I bet he’s seething inside, already plotting some diabolical revenge for me chopping off his Leylandii branches. This will send him over the edge, I’m sure! I took some photos as evidence of how far they were hanging over my property, ready for when he has a go at me for damaging his property.
The gravel duly arrived – I missed it coming, but when I saw the small pile that six tonnes represented I wondered if they would have enough. Two lads were barrowing in the gravel, while Brett was rebuilding my dog run. I made sure that he was leaving a tall sturdy post for me to attach my washing line, and I left them to go to Creative Writing. On my return they had gone home for the evening. All the gravel was down, although not smoothed out. The water feature was standing proudly in its place and the patio had been pressure washed ready for re-grouting the next day.
Brett had assured me that it would be finished the next night. I can hardly believe it, because there still seems to be so much to do, but I bow to his superior knowledge. I must be at home while they are doing the finishing touches, so I can get my gnomes and assorted ornaments and pots positioned where I want them. Some are too heavy for me to move.
I had a wander around the grounds with Myschka. She was having a good sniff at everything, and promptly walked across the one remaining flower bed that was accessible. There is no way I will be able to let her roam freely, although I can probably train her to keep to the patio and gravel when I am with her, so I am glad I made the decision to keep a separate dog run. If I ever have another dog, it will be essential. Roll on tomorrow. I can’t wait to see the finished job.
Day 10 – Supposedly the last day. However, as I sat eating my breakfast I decided that I need further screening from Mr Nasty’s scruffy boundary, and an extra twelve feet adding on to the dog run so that until I get my potting shed I can store my bins , mini greenhouse and other paraphernalia. This would take the dog run back to the end of the slabbing laid for the potting shed. Almost where it was before. When I can finally afford the potting shed, it wouldn’t take much to remove or shorten the trellis panels and let the sunshine in (if we ever get any). I might as well be happy with the job, rather than be wishing I had done it at the time. How much would two extra trellis panels and three extra posts cost? Another week’s wages, perhaps? Maybe two now I am on a three day week. In the scheme of things, that didn’t sound much. I decided to ring Stuart early so that Brett wouldn’t start fixing panels in place until he knew of my revised plans.The extra post he put in yesterday will do as a washing line support anyway! They make their own trellis panels, so I knew that size wouldn’t matter.
Brett and Three Sugars arrived and started cutting into the membrane under the gravel to release the paving slabs, and I told him of my extended plan. He said that he cannot work on Friday because they have another job on, but when Stuart rang to tell me the price, he said he will send two of the lads to erect the final trellis panels on Saturday morning. I was right about it costing a week’s wages! I think I’ve now got a feel for Stuart’s charges.
My gardener Eddie turned up to survey the painting work that he would have to do. I am pleased that he prefers to use a brush and get into the nooks and crannies, as I didn’t want him to use a sprayer, as one of my friends suggested that I should do. It used to take me 20 minutes per panel for one coat, so that should provide him with a fair few weeks worth of work at two hours a week, and take him through to spring, when there will be planting and garden related things to do again.
Noon and Stuart has been to place all the plants where he wants them planting, including my Magnolia that had been in a pot for 19 years. He sorted out the rocks around the little pond, piling in a few little ones so that my frogs can get out. One grateful frog was rescued earlier because he couldn’t get a purchase on the slippery pond edge. Meanwhile the guys re-erected my gazebo and busied themselves under Stuart’s instruction, with a little bit of my input. The remains of the Eu
calyptus stump was dealt with by Stuart.
I felt quite emotional when I saw where everything was positioned. I don’t know how I will be when the job is finished!
Three guys were on the job again in the afternoon. I sat watching, whilst doing my Creative Writing homework. Builder’s Bum had delivered the two big bamboo plants and helped Three Sugars to plant up the plants that Stuart had positioned. Brett was on his knees grouting my patio with Sika Pave Fix Plus which does not need water to set it, and is full of smelly chemicals. I luckily made the suggestion that the walls also needed grouting, which I don’t think they had planned until I mentioned it. Brett liked my idea of having a little gravel pathway through the rockery, and said it looked like a bridge. An idea they can adopt in someone else’s garden no doubt. I won’t charge them copyright fees!
3pm and the lads were on a mission. They finish about 4pm usually, I think. I had been doing my CW homework and not noticed what was going on for the last couple of hours. I was just thinking about making them another cup of tea when I saw the speed that they were working at, and what they had left to do. It looked like one of those TV programmes called “60 Minute Makeovers”. I dare not offer them a cup of tea, they would not have time to drink it. Only half the plants were in. Brett was working against the clock to get the posts in for the added part of my dog run. My fault, I know, I bet he was cursing me. The lads were frantically digging through the membrane to plant the remaining plants. They will be coming back Saturday morning to fix the extra trellis panels and place my objets d’arts etc, but I think they were supposed to be finishing the planting today, and there are the two big bamboo to get in, as well as my magnolia tree and an acer tree which will need big holes digging. 😆
Will they finish in time? This I doubt!
An hour to go and the lads are on a mission!
I wonder if they are on commission?
r Nasty’s fence and a compact one. The climbers were as requested by me:- a Ceanothus, a Hydrangea, a Clematis Jackmanii, a Pyracantha for the birds and he added a Vitis and a Jasmine to cover the gazebo or summer house, if and when I get it. The Japanese Maple was not the one I had asked for, Acer Dissectum Atropurpureum , but will do for now if it survives having the trellis panel fall on it. Knopfia should brighten up the corner of the dog run in the summer. I think I saw an iris somewhere. Several other unidentifiable plants were dotted around. Such tiny plants, all of them. A lot of them were planted in groups of three. I hope they survive. All I need now is for it to keep raining until the end of April so they can get established (at night and in small doses, of course).
A Solanum, and several clematis varieties on my dog run trellis
A Viburnum Tinus somewhere near Mr Nasty’s boundary
A Fatsia Japonica somewhere near the bamboos
A potting shed with sloping windows
A corner summer house or willow gazebo (the latter will do for a few years)
More solar garden lights and solar twinkling white light string to drape around the tall conifer
Electrical connections to the water feature(s), pond and electrical connection to the security light
A rockery building using the cascade(s) I still have, with electrical connections and using the cherub fountain and piping to circulate the pond water
A water lily and some marginal plants
A solid base substantial patio sunshade and a new table and chairs set for the patio near the house
The Lord God planted a garden
in the first white days of the world,
and He set there an angel warden
in a garment of light enfurled.
So near to the peace of Heaven,
that the hawk might nest with the wren,
for there in the cool of the even
God walked with the first of men.
And I dream that these garden-closes
with their shade and their sun-flecked sod
and their lilies and bowers of roses,
were laid by the hand of God.
The kiss of the sun for pardon,
the song of the birds for mirth,
one is nearer God’s heart in a garden
than anywhere else on earth.
For He broke it for us in a garden
under the olive-trees
where the angel of strength was the warden
and the soul of the world found ease.
Dorothy Frances Gurney
I made a resolution
for a life style conversion.
My garden was so very full
there was no room to walk at all.
So I called in a gardening man
and he soon drew up a paper plan.
All my trees and shrubs were then chopped right down
although losing some sadly made me frown.
But ten short days later I looked out with pride
at my revamped lovely garden, and I cried.
List of Plants that I did not already know the name of:-
Elaeagnus pungens maculata
Bergenia Elephant Ears
Choisya aztec pearl
Cystus silver pink
Euonymus emerald and gold