This summer we carried on making good progress on a walled vegetable garden that we have been working on. Many of the original walls that bordered the garden were derelict and so we completely rebuilt them and raised the height and also changed the line of some of the walls. Newly quarried stone was mixed in with the original stone that could be salvaged. This allowed the walls to be strengthened but also maintained the local character of the walls. Because many of the boundary walls were raised to over 5ft we used many courses of 'through' stones to bind the structure together. We accentuated the curves in the line of the boundary walls to reflect the curving shapes of the whole garden
Originally the garden had been on one level with a slight gradient. However, when we re-landcaped the area we decided to divide the space into two tiers on different height levels. The higher level was retained by a low wide curving terrace wall. After the earth had been moved to form the raised level, we constructed the retaining bank wall, finished with large flat toppers.
Once the boundary walls and the retaining wall and two stone staircases were mostly finished, we could then lay out the planting beds using reclaimed bricks and the a crushed stone underlay has been put down ready for the gravel to go on the paths between the beds. A lot of the perennial plants have already been planted so the structure of the garden has become clearly visible and it finally looks like a garden as it greens up. Most of the permanent herb bushes have been planted and we planted lines of lavender along the top of the terrace wall so that, as it grows, it will spill over the wall and create a nice effect.
Here we are building an S shaped boundary wall. To do this we’ve used stone from the original collapsing stone walls. The remaining stone has broken down to fairly small pieces, smaller than is ideal but in this part of Yorkshire it is fairly common to see old walls that have lasted built from very small thin pieces of stone. Thin pieces of stone also makes for a neat pleasing wall that matches the surroundings, on the down side it takes much longer to build. In order to make use of the stone we’ve had to grade it thoroughly to remove unusable pieces, and bring in a proportion of new stone for base stones, through stones and for the wall ends. Interestingly the wall was built as part of a local estate and has very nicely worked Cope stones, most of these have survived but we made some new ones to replace the few that were missing.
When building a new dry stone wall it is often surprising how much stone is needed. Partly this is due to the stacking effect of building a wall. It is always gratifying to see a great pile of stone decrease in volume as it gets condensed into the tightly packed structure of a wall. When a new wall or feature is created in an existing garden, protecting the existing features from the large volumes of stone being transported, moved, and worked can be a challenge. In the picture below you can see the use of boards, planks and tarpaulin to reduce the impact to the lawn. The stone in the picture is about 10 tonnes in weight and will be enough to build a small section of garden wall.
One of the great things about dry stone walls is their value as wildlife habitat. When a wall gets older it can accumulate all manner of plants and lichens. Dry stone walls are good for this as gaps can get filled with soil particularly where the wall is retaining an earth bank where moisture can flow through. The flora is quite different depending on the geology of the stone from which the wall is being built. In this sandstone wall in Yorkshire you can see Woundwort, Sweet Woodruff, Foxglove and Teasel are all able to grow in and around the wall itself.
This project involved the creation of a level path across a steeply sloping garden in order to make the garden more accessible and generally make it a more enjoyable place to be. The path is at the lower end of the garden and is amongst more dense shaded woodland foliage. We started by creating two low retaining walls to accommodate the path and then built up the path finally finishing it with a layer of self healing clay gravel. The finished look is rustic and the path will accumulate ferns and other woodland plants whilst still providing a functional walkway to a sunken patio.