We have been horticultural archaeologists at The Farm today. There is a forgotten area just below the (soon to be) vegetable garden. An area whispered of in the dark corners of hostelries and scribbled in ancient tomes. The void on the map. The Badlands. Dry stone walls with half buried door and window, the wooden lintels still holding firm, back and side this green enigma. In amongst the mass of self-seeded hebe and goat willow emerge flower spikes of zantedeschia and typhus, suggesting watery feet. Beneath the raft of vegetation lay a series of ponds and pipes, interlinked and redundant. We had heard tales of water gardens and fireworks, others spoke of pathetic puddles and duckweed. The truth is somewhere in between.
It began, as these things often do, with another of Mrs G’s understatements. “Did you have anything in mind for today? Thought you and Slasher might clear the pond area.” Before long SS was on duty attacking the big stuff (trees/shrubs), tool of choice pick axe. I was on small stuff (ferns/couch grass/ivy/being bossy), using my natty little hand hoe and border fork. Things were helped somewhat by a few rousing choruses of I Need a Hero. Obviously that was just me. The concrete lined ponds were little more than silt and sludge, chocked with desperate aquatics and divided by slate bridges. Our investigations of the periphery found more rock than soil, boulders that the sneaky intruders had wound around, in between and underneath. Small specimens were tricky to extricate, the larger ones challenging. Slasher was so annoyed at one point he may have said “flip”. I believe his darkest moment was when clearing the steps up past the jaunty potting shed. We may need some more heavy duty equipment to remove the tree seedling lodged beneath the top step. Let us just say that this project is work in progress.