Sunday, 4 September 2016

When does summer end?

For school children I guess it's when they go back for the Autumn term. For the weathermen on TV it's the last day of August. I think Autumn things have to start happening first, like the trees changing, getting cooler and needing the heating on. Pulling up the bedding plants and putting pansies in, planting bulbs. No-one in our village has their pansies out so, it's decidedly definitely not ended yet, my planters and tubs are still looking far too showy to be pulled up ... though I admit I have ordered some new plants and bulbs.

Summer so far has been quite pressured work-wise for MTM. The company he works for has been doing school upgrading and extensions ... he's the Contracts Manager on FIVE of them. The programme of works has to be fitted into the school holidays and so he's been extremely busy. Not helped by one of the door manufacturers letting them down on delivery dates. Here it is, the last Sunday before the kids go back and he's had to go to one of the sites to get everything handed over on time. He left very early and he'll be there til late. 

I'm continuing working on terracing of the garden in his absence. We had a couple of weekends when we couldn't work on it. During some high winds in the middle of August, a huge branch one our willow tree broke off and fell into the river. We got Dave in, the tree surgeon and he cut it up for us with his chainsaw; with MTM's help, it was retrieved from the river. We got some logs to dry out to use in the wood burner later on but that was one weekend used up on that.

I was very relieved when it was removed, the branch was so big, it went from bank to bank, I had visions of all the slugs and snails I have thrown to the other side of the river merrily marching back over it in the dark!

There were a stack of smaller branches to be disposed off and we put them where the terracing is being done to have a bonfire. We left them to dry out and obviously they were in the way of getting the soil dug out so that was another weekend gone but conditions were rights during the week for us to burn them so we're clear to get on with it now.

We got quite a bit done yesterday morning. This is how far we got before we ran out of timber and got rained off at lunchtime.

From above,

from the side. The bed on the right isn't falling downhill, it's straight, honestly! It's just the barrelling on the camera!

and from below.

I'm doing some more digging out today getting ready for the next timber delivery.

The buckets you can see in the photos have seen some action, that's how I've been digging the soil out and moving it around. Mainly it's had to go up hill. Weed roots go in the large black gorilla bucket and are deposited onto the compost heap. Rubble and subsoil (what little has been found) is used for backfill for the paths. The topsoil is really, really deep (we're talking well over a metre in places), we're so lucky! The only bit of subsoil I've found is near the uppermost bit of the slope but even that has a decent covering of topsoil.

The excavations have uncovered all sorts. Lots of bits of metal, many of which are unidentifiable but some nails. Considering the house used to be a blacksmiths forge, I've been very disappointed not to find any lucky horseshoes but maybe the nails were used on horseshoes, are nails lucky? Of course they are!

There has obviously been some stone and brick terracing in the past very similar to the crumbling wall at the bottom that was here when we arrived; there's lots of rubble in the soil and on occasion we've had to get the pick axe out to remove walling, fortunately, mostly we seem to have chosen a different lay out to the original and only come across really tough walling to be removed on a couple of occasions.

At some point one or more of the original walls must've collapsed and rather than repair/rebuild someone in the past decided to just make it a slope and everything got moved around as it was done because there is rubble in pretty much all of the area, some areas are "cleaner" than others though.

Some of the biggest pieces are good enough to form a new rockery so they've been set aside for re-use. I'm only removing the largest stones. Medium ones are having to stay put for the time being as there's so many; I'll remove the biggest medium bits from the top few inches as and when the beds are planted. Smaller pieces of aggregate will stay and be handy for drainage. Where I get a very rubbly bucket, I've ensured it's got well buried under better quality soil or used where the paths will go. 

Just look at this litte bottle that I found entirely intact   . so cute! I feel like an archaeologist! I wonder what it once contained.

I also found some bones, I think it must've been a cat or a small dog, they were quite scattered around, I didn't find a skull which may've identified the species. Where the greatest concentration was, I also found some bulbs so the romantic in me has imagined the person who buried a much loved pet, planted the bulbs in memorial. Aside from a single patch of daffodils, they're the only bulbs that were already here in the garden when we arrived, I've never noticed them flowering, they're in a quite shaded area so I've replanted them where most of the bones I found were reinterred. I am very interested to see what they are next year if they survive.

There's been lots of pottery too, most of which has been reburied as the shards are quite small, some very boring and plain but here's a selection of the prettiest bits which I'm keeping above ground for now.

My temperature blanket still thinks it's summer too with all the lovely warm colours during July and August continuing into September. I've taken this picture from the very top terrace of the garden which was already here when we arrived, you can see the lay out of the new terraced beds, so high up it almost gives you vertigo! The design of the beds was MTM's idea, all going off at right angles, he really should've been an architect instead of a builder! 

So the decision is made, Summer hasn't finished yet. The days are still longer than the nights, I hope you're have a more restful summer than MTM and I are! (We love it really!)