USA threatens wall construction

I’d hoped to have my wall finished before heading off on this tour to the US in May.  But time ran short, and I did that rotten thing, right near the end of a project, when you suddenly think of some great new addition to the idea.  With only hours of construction left, it occurred to me that what I really needed was a set of steps puncturing the wall, right in the spot I was then working.

Constructing a wall is one thing (time-wise), and constructing steps another.  I knew that they would add days – maybe a whole precious week – to the project.  I tried to silence the idea – to discredit it from every possible angle, but didn’t have a hope.  It had implanted itself, taken root, and wouldn’t be weeded out.  I had some left-over slate lying around, and with a quick play found that I probably had enough for the job, even if it was of scarily different thicknesses, and that I’d have to achieve a fair bit of fudging to get away with it.

Anyway, thought I’d stick in a progress pic.  I know they’re nothing to write home about (though I confess, I did tell my Mum about them – on the phone), but so far I just love them so much.  It’s not the joy of proficiency or capability.  It’s just the joy of having done it yourself (and the other not-inconsiderable joy of being able to fuss over a few details that you know you could never adequately specify to someone making them for you).

Sedum reflexum

Meanwhile, plants stuck in to the larger section of the wall made in autumn are nestling in nicely, shaping themselves around the surrounding rocks in a way that makes your little heart palpitate..  I admit was a bit alarmed to read Helen McKerrals poston her stone wall on, in which she admits that she knew that it is recommended to plant during construction, but replies to that idea with a  ‘..seriously, is anyone that organised?’.

Sedum acre aureum

It appears that I am.  Clearly it was pretty uncool to admit it. I feel a bit like Saki’s Miss Scrawen (from his short story, Tobermory), who wrote fiercely sensuous poetry but led a blameless life.  She’s very irritated when she’s found out, for as Saki says ‘if you are methodical and virtuous in private you don’t necessarily want everyone to know it.”

My fav addition – daggy old Jasminium nudiflorum. I’m going to have to cut it very hard after flowering to stop it taking over, but it seems like the perfect location for this otherwise hard-to-place plant.  You’ve gotta love those leafless, whip-like stems in flower mid-winter


  1. I think the terrifying organisation of the wall planting is perfectly balanced by that wild, harum-scarum decision about the steps. Which are looking mighty fine by the way and much more finished than my curved gabion wall, begun in late 2012.

  2. I think your headline for this post deserves an award!! Love it, the steps are lovely too they look perfect for enjoying a Pimms on one summer evening!

  3. It’s looking good Michael.
    We had at our local Rotary Club Alistair Tunes come and talk. He is a local Dry stone builder and he was luck to be selected to go to this years Chelsea Flower and Garden Show as part of the winning team.
    I’m still fascinated stone wall building and would hope to be able to build one in the future.

    1. You’re right in stone-wall country in south western Vic Andrew! What’s stopping you?

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