Brambles to Blackberries

I saw in the paper the other day that a mild winter and warm spring were responsible for “an early and abundant harvest” but I was still surprised to see ripe blackberries growing on (through?) the shed in August.blackberries

The hedge was fairly well laden too so I stuffed my face. They were so good, I slightly regretted removing all the brambles from the front wall before the blackberries were ripe but this evening the stonemason called and said he’ll be starting on Monday morning 🙂

Dig on for Victory

I was about to “pen” an over excited post about mini diggers when I realised I’d not written about some of the work we did a few weeks ago – so this post is a bit long – sorry.

Now that I’ve got planning permission but not yet got building regs (another saga) I can get the wall knocked down and the new pillars put in.  One of the conditions of the planning permission is that this is done before the access is used.  I’ve got a stonemason coming to knock down the wall and build to pillars on either side.  I said I’d prep the site by removing the ivy, brambles and extra shrubs and clearing the soil away from the wall.

I forgot to take a “before” photo so here is a photo of the outside of the wall from February – imagine this but much worse (another season’s growth plus leaves on all the brambles).


Here’s the inside of the wall also from February – I actually can’t believe how much it has grown – I swear there was another foot on top of that privet in the middle.  So basically everything in this photo between the tree and the oil tank had to be removed.


I was pondering how I was going to clear all the stuff and I asked my friend Joe who has a tree surgery business (ABC Tree Surgery) but does all sorts of landscaping stuff as well and he brought me a trailer to “fill up like a skip”.  I thought he meant a dinky one which I could tow to the tip myself but he showed up with a beast of a trailer.

dave_trailerThat’s my friend Dave stomping down the foliage in said trailer – Dave kindly put in a few hours hard labour on a very hot day to help me out – aptly wearing a t-shirt which declared “What a difference a Dave makes”.  Speaking of stomping down brambles, was anyone else sceptical about all the princes who died by becoming trapped in the brambles surrounding Sleeping Beauty’s castle?  Like, they’re brambles – how hard could it be to fight your way out?  Now I know, really hard…..and mine weren’t magical brambles….


That’s the wall after all that ivy and brambles were removed – bit different eh? That’s the difference a Dave makes.


And the inside (I took this photo in the middle of a thunderstorm the following day).  The privet is hacked right back (I had planned to move it to the back garden where there is a dead privet in the party hedge but it was too close to the tree to dig out), there was some massive laurel type bush which is gone, a pine bush which was removed, the craggy old rosemary plant has been transplanted into a pot and we tried to pot up some of the crocosmia but I don’t think they’ve take well to that.  We emptied some of the stuff from the old compost heap (which was where I’d been dumping everything I couldn’t shred) and chopped back some stuff in the back garden too (e.g. the out of control escallonia).  Joe didn’t pick up the trailer for a couple of days so I carried on filling it – there was some wild privet all around the tree, the elaeagnus next to it got a decent hair cut, I gave the mahonia (next to the yew but out of shot) a good prune (it was probably about 10ft tall in the Spring, I’d pruned a couple of stems back and it resprouted fine so I cut the rest back – now it’s a much more compact plant, about 4ft high), the yew got a thinning (but I’ve more plans for that yet) and the red robin in the back garden was choking the apple tree so that got hacked to the ground.  The trailer ended up looking like this (stomping it down was no longer possible).


So that was a few weeks ago.  On Friday, I finished work and went to the house to discover a mini digger in the garden 🙂  I was ridiculously and inappropriately “mini jazz hands” excited – I just grinned at it for about 15 mins until my face started to ache.  Is that a typical reaction to a mini digger or is it just me?


Anyway, Joe showed up yesterday morning to show me it in action – see how it moves those rocks?  No sweat.


So yeah, it’s a massive trench!  You can see how high the flower bed was from the tide mark, the ditch is now slightly (6 inches or so) below road level – it will have to be dug out some more for the foundations for the driveway but this will be enough space for the stone mason to work.  We did hit some tree roots but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been – the driveway opening will have to be further away from the tree that I had hoped but I’m thinking of getting gas anyway (a controversial decision in the Isle of Man) so the oil tank can probably be dispensed with.


So I bet you’re wondering if we found any treasure? I asked Joe if he’d ever found anything interesting and the response was “a dildo and a Blackberry phone”, hmm, not really what I had in mind.  Anyway…. there was a load of old metal, a bed frame, perhaps part of a barrel, a piece of copper pipe, a lead pipe and some other unidentifiable metal stuff.


Plus an old “Boots the Chemist” bottle – it’s not cracked or chipped but it is dirty on the inside and I haven’t got anything to properly clean it.  It’s not worth anything (I checked) but it’s still pretty cool – I wonder how old it is?  The other weird thing about this is that I remember Boots opening in the Isle of Man – it was around 1994, so I wonder if there used to be a Boots here years ago or if this was an import!