26 May 2015

DIY

DIY. Not Lady Diana, The Queen of Hearts but DIY as in Do It Yourself.

This semi-detached house we inhabit in the south western suburbs of Sheffield was built in 1925. It may have been the first owner who had an obsession with embedding old bricks and stones in the garden. I have dug up hundreds of them over the years.

But just beyond our decking, there was a strip of the garden that I had never properly tackled. Grass had overgrown what had once been a rough little path. I could tell this simply by pronging my garden fork down to the hard stuff that lay just beneath the surface. It was in my mind to do something about this area last summer but I had a knee injury and it wouldn't have been wise to do too much kneeling.

However, recently I have been feeling as fit as a butcher's dog - no knee problems - and with oodles of motivation in my fuel tank, I felt ready to begin the little garden project.

With the aid of a pick axe and sledge hammer, I removed all the stones from beneath the surface. To be carried away, a few of them would have needed two men. Lord knows what they once were but the cut marks speak of far distant times. Stone endures and it tends to get recycled so that if they could speak old stones would have fascinating stories to tell. Those stones I lifted will still be going strong long after we have all passed away.

Anyway, back to practical matters. With the stones all gone I set about laying a new path with block paving stones that I had had delivered from Paget's builder's yard on Broadfield Road. As our ground is clay rich, I didn't bother with a gravel and sand bed for the pavers. They are quite heavy  and after removing the turf,  I just butted them up against each other in a kind of jigsaw. making sure they were as level as possible. 

Then I set about building a little soil retaining wall using some of the stones I had dug up and also eight Victorian edging stones that I liberated from my son's house near to the Sheffield United football ground. I also had to shift a heavy stone trough that came from Holme Farm in Gunthorpe, Lincolnshire. That was where Shirley grew up and where her father and grandfather farmed all their lives. I also made a little stone shelf for an old grindstone that I found when I kept an allotment on Hagg Hill by Rivelin Valley Road - years ago.

I rebuilt the drystone wall beneath the decking and dug over the earth that had lain beneath the buried stones. Then I forked in a couple of sacks of compost before spreading four bags of topsoil over the surface.

Now after numerous sessions of labour over a period of two weeks, we were ready for the proverbial icing on the cake. Yesterday afternoon, we drove up to Bent's Green Nursery where Shirley and Frances - who was home for the weekend - picked various bedding plants to go in what is now a sunny new flower border. Last night I was still planting up at nine o'clock and this morning I watered the new plants in. By May 26th the danger of late frosts is almost certainly gone. We are on the very verge of summer.

It's nice to have a vision of something and then to see it through to completion. I know my little DIY project is not going to make it into the pages of any glossy garden magazines. Nor do I expect a visit from Prince Charles any time soon. What I did may appear unexceptional but it has improved our tiny bit of the planet and  having done it all by myself, I am pleased as punch with the end result.

24 comments:

  1. What a cheery place you've made, YP. And it looks like it will be sturdy and solid and easy to maintain. You'll still be able to work in that nice little flower bed from a gardening stool 30 years from now. Good job.

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  2. Looks a grand job.
    I hope you had Charlie Dimmock round to do the heavy lifting and humping. Will you allow that expression.

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    1. Unfortunately, Charlie Dimmock wasn't available for humping when I phoned her.

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  3. There's nowt like a bit of heavy labour and gardening to soothe the soul - or whatever.

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    1. Yes. I have taken a leaf out of your book Graham!

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  4. Looks smashing YP.

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    1. Thank you Libby.I applaud your aesthetic nous!

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  5. Hagg hill!
    I bumped my astra down that hill with finlay sitting on my knee with his paws on the steering wheel

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    1. Had Finlay passed his test?

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  6. That's a major project with some history thrown in.

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    1. Yes the stones do have history Red. Any stone troughs by The River Trent in Lincolnshire were probably carved just west of Sheffield where the base rock is millstone grit.

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  7. Nice little patch of ground. I was immediately taken in by the common phrase 'pleased as punch' and wondered about its origin. Googled it, (of course) and now I am more learned.
    Your seasons sound like ours - our frost date is pretty much passed and we're working on getting the veggie garden all in.....if it doesn't get us 'all in' first!

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    1. Well I don't even know where "pleased as punch" comes from myself Hilly. I will also have to "google" it.

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  8. Looks lovely and will be something nice to gaze out on in the late Summer afternoons. What sort of flowers did you plant ?

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    1. I left that up to the ladies Helen. I only know about plants I can eat and wild flowers.

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  9. Who needs a visit from Prince Charles, when you've got all of us visiting you, Yorky?

    A job a well done! It looks great. A soiree or two out there on that deck late afternoon would be very inviting, indeed. Good on you! :)

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  10. Love it, very nice work! Yes, if those stones could speak... there'd be no end of babble in your garden :-)
    (Seriously, I am fascinated by the history of things and places, as you know.)

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    1. STONE 1: What are you made from?
      STONE 2: Granite. How about you?
      STONE 1: I'm millstone grit of course.
      STONE 2: I'm ten million years old.
      STONE 1: Me too...Quiet! That ephemeral being with the wheelbarrow is coming back.
      STONE 2: Speak later.

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  11. Job well done Mr Pudding! How about a photo of the stone trough?

    Ms Soup

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    1. The little stone trough is set into my new wall. It's on the right. When did you last complete an eye test Alphie?

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  12. Your blending of landscaping (the plants) with hardscaping (the rocks) is quite lovely and your description of said project is of course informative and interesting! But aren't any of your muscles the least bit sore? (he dared to ask, knowing that dear old YP will probably make something lewd and lascivious out of an innocent remark....)

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    1. Mmmm... I wasn't thinking about making a lewd and lascivious remark but just to keep you on board so to say I declare that only one muscle felt sore after all that work. It was my "palmaris longus". Sometimes it was so sore it throbbed and my wife had to rub soothing coconut lotion into it.

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