Sunday, August 14, 2011

Weekend with Interludes

It's been another busy, action packed weekend for us as we got stuck in and carried on building our pond. Throughout the working week we have been gradually building up the walls on two sides of the pond and have achieved significant heights on both of them. We are not yet up to the final level, it will be awhile before we can build up to that, but it is at least at the level of the 'new' ground level, and when I'm stood inside pond the walls are nearly my height. It's great to see this visual reward after months and months of digging! 

Two walls have been built up and now it was time for the third, and most difficult one to be prepared. For every wall that needs to be built, more digging has to be done so concrete footings can be laid, and that's what we mainly did on Saturday. We have finally chipped off the two buttresses holding up our neighbour's old fences and once the ground and side has been levelled we had to dig up a trench for the concrete footings. It sounds easy peasy but it's not, far from it. It is hard work, and probably the hardest of all the digging sessions we've ever done.

That area is mostly solid chalk, very hard to chip off, and an awkward area to dig a trench. Heavy duty digging fork and spade cannot penetrate this area, only pick axe could and pick axe job it was, all day. And of course shovelling and hauling of rubble on top of that. Determination is a good antidote for body aches and pains but calluses on our hands are much more difficult to hide.

But it wasn't all monotonous hard work, we took a break by visiting a couple of garden related places very near us.

On Saturday we checked out the Mediterranean Nursery  which is only half an hour's drive from where we live. We encountered them for the first time at the Chenies Manor Plant Fair last July but prior to this we have never heard of them before. So we've put it at the back of our minds to check out the place soon and we had our chance that day.

It was a pleasant exotic plant nursery, packed full of your usual exotic plants with reasonable prices. It reminded me of a Cornish nursery with the lushness of the stocks (and that's a good thing). After years of moaning to ourselves that there are no exotic nurseries reasonably near us, we now know of at least two, this and the Olive Grove Nursery. Two places we can conveniently visit whenever we want some quick exotic plant retail fix!

Then on Sunday we checked out the grounds of the majestic and historical Luton Hoo which is only 15 minutes drive away from us.

Luton Hoo is a large stately home, which has been converted into a 5 star hotel. The Current house was built at the end of the 18th Century for the Earl of Bute, with the landscaping provided by Capability Brown. Although various changes were made over the years, Brown's landscape is reasonably untouched and still very much as he built it.

In the late Victorian period some additonal areas were added, such as the Rockery - a huge area that is reminiscent of a Cornish valley Garden.

Located on the edge of Luton, the grounds make you feel as if you could be miles away from the hustle and bustle of a busy town centre, until you see planes taking off from London-Luton Aiport on the next hill!

Sunday we have mixed and poured concrete on the trench, levelled and left to dry ready for the wall to be built up in the next few days. Afterwards we have shifted 25 bags of cement and half a pallet of high density blocks from the front of the house to the back, then did an hour or so of gardening in the afternoon. We decided to pack up early and go indoors, in by 6:30pm when we're usually still outside up to 10pm. We've done loads, best to listen to our bodies and take it easy. We both work full time afterall, at this rate we both go to work to get some rest!

I'm pleased with our progress, very hard work but not a dull moment. Body is all achy and sore yes, but there is a wonderful, satisfied feeling on top of that.

Even more wonderful to know that this weekend was a milestone, that the worst of the pond dig is now well and truly over :-)



  1. It is coming right along. I know it's easy to say and you're doing all the hard work but you are right, the payoff is going to be such satisfaction. The gardens visited was just the right dose to remind you of just why you were working so hard at home.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

  2. Wow!! I got tired just digging a few post holes in clay last week! You two are gluttons for punishment...but as you say the satisfaction levels must be high! I am enjoying watching the progress and always hang out for posts about it.

  3. I'm tired just reading your post! The amount of work you guys are doing is just unbelievable. The koi pond will be absolutely amazing. I've seen smaller swimming pools!!! :-)

    :: Bamboo and More ::

  4. Ditto, everything said above! I don't know where you guys get your energy from... I must be getting old!
    Yours is another garden I would love to visit, and I am determined too, having been to see Lucians. I want to see how different yours is and what I can plant that doesn't have to be heaved in and out of the greenhouse each year!!!!!

  5. Thanks Cher!The nursery and the garden we visited gave us some needed break from the work. We didn't spend much time on both of them, about an hour or so each, but it was enough to invigorate us to carry on after :)

    Hi Hazel, I'm so sore now but I'm glad it's done now, and that the worst of the pond dig is now over. Talk about saving the worst for last, lol! Whew, just glad it's finally out of the way now :)

    Hi Gerhard, we're definitely going to swim in it once the finished pond is filled with water, before fishes are introduced. If it's warm enough outside that is :)All that hard work and yet very little visual reward, but from there things will be built up much quicker, the speed of the built should get much faster now. Can't wait! :)

    Hi Libby, we're paying for it now, we're both so sore, could do with a day off, lol! You're welcome here anytime but spring and summer is of course the best for the garden. Vice versa, would love to pop round and visit you once work here is much calmer. Also glad to see the progress of your project :)

  6. Oh dear, two good exotic nurseries within easy striking distance? Good job you both work full time ;-) Impressive digging, no wonder you needed some time out. Luton Hoo looks rather lovely.

  7. As I read that you actually stopped working and took a couple of trips out and about I was impressed with your smarts. Me, I get started on a project and get tunnel vision. It's all I want to do until I am done or I drop from exhaustion. Yours is a much more sensible approach. And that nursery! Wow...nice find. So will you be able to work on this project until it's done? Or will there need to be a break for the winter?

  8. I'd heard of Sutton Hoo but not Luton Hoo, that's a new one for me! You must have been shattered today, but full of satisfaction.

  9. Hi Janet, it's good to be both working full time, keeps us on the straight path, lol! Luton Hoo is lovely indeed, still needs a bit more restoration to be done but it's getting there :)

    Thanks Loree! That nursery is a find indeed. Not as big as some of the ones we're already familiar with but at least it is near us for whenever we fancy some quick trip out. Depending on how 'kind/mild' the winter will be, we should be able to carry on working for most parts of it. The latter stage will involve plenty of wood work and that should be fine being done during the colder months.

    Hi Martin, we've heard of Sutton Hoo too :) Feeling much better now, looking forward to the weekend already so we can do more.

  10. Just think of all the money people spend on gyms and never get a pond to show for their efforts...or that wonderful feeling of satisfaction at creating something beuatiful.


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