when the ground is full of water

March 20, 2013


Creating landscapes and building gardens carries on through all types of weather. Certain processes are not possible when the ground temperature drops below freezing – this is well understood by all who work in this industry. We are now experiencing changes in the climate that mean we need to be aware of the effects of incessant rain as well. Last year, in the South East of the UK, spring stopped in mid March, summer didn’t exist and autumn was a washout. Winter was mostly wet – some days the temperature stayed below freezing and there have been light snow showers and one dramatic snow storm last week. Consequently, the ground is full of water. Gardens aren’t very important in the scale of things. Farming is much more important and times in that industry are tough. Flooded fields mean crops cannot grow and access is difficult. On this site in a rural setting, we have another problem that exacerbates the state of the ground. The original farm road of compacted rubble including building materials and layers of concrete was simply turfed over and the ground levels were not adjusted to take the water away sufficiently. It’s amazing what turf will grow on! The clients, who are being very courageous, were warned that their garden would look like The Somme . . .

drainage 2

water 2

water lying

. . . so jobs have to be dealt with while the new land drains do what they should do.   These contractors are cracking on with digging in gravel to break up the clay . . .


. . .  and some hard landscape work such as extending and renewing the brick terrace under the watchful eye of Liam.

terrace edge 2

Ryan drills the walls for vine eyes to support the stainless steel wiring for the climbers. Once done, the Grasses and Movement border can be finished by completing the neat gravel filled trench between wall and planting.  I’ll be unwrapping the climbers and attaching them to the supports myself. The chaps will finish up with final mulch. A corner of the new soft fruit frame shows top left.  Steve,  Andy and Ryan made the frame with chestnut poles – it’s waiting for the netting jacket.

ryan (2)

Capacious compost bins need a dark stain and a screen of buckthorn, species roses and Cornus ‘Winter Sun’.

steve (2)

Nick and Adam tackle one of the oaks. It’s a marvelous specimen – probably about 300 years old – and needs gentle attention before the buds swell even more . . .


nick close up

nick + adam (2)

It’s been decided to pull off site at the end of the week, let the ground drain and return in mid April to finish off creating  gravel paths, prepping the borders and finally planting. By the way, these contractors have just one a big prize and since they’re working on 4 of our jobs at the moment. We’ve all worked together before – one of the projects is here.


Friendly faces surround this site!

photo old barn

The rain it rains without a stay

In the hills above us, in the hills;

And presently the floods break way

Whose strength is in the hills.

The trees they suck from every cloud,

The valley brooks they roar aloud–

Bank-high for the lowlands, lowlands,

Lowlands under the hills!

The first wood down is sere and small,

From the hills–the brishings off the hills;

And then come by the bats and all

We cut last year in the hills;

And then the roots we tried to cleave

But found too tough and had to leave–

Polting down the lowlands, lowlands,

Lowlands under the hills!

The eye shall look, the ear shall hark

To the hills, the doings in the hills!

And rivers mating in the dark

With tokens from the hills.

Now what is weak will surely go,

And what is strong must prove it so–

Stand Fast in the lowlands, lowlands,

Lowlands under the hills!

The floods they shall not be afraid–

Nor the hills above ’em, nor the hills–

Of any fence which man has made

Betwixt him and the hills.

The waters shall not reckon twice

For any work of man’s device,

But bid it down to the lowlands, lowlands,

Lowlands under the hills!

The floods shall sweep corruption clean–

By the hills, the blessing of the hills–

That more the meadows may be green

New-mended from the hills.

The crops and cattle shall increase,

Nor little children shall not cease.

Go–plough the lowlands, lowlands,

Lowlands under the hills!  Kipling  The Floods

8 Responses to “when the ground is full of water”

  1. Sinclair 3168 Says:

    All very interesting, especially for those who don’t know anything about this. Good photos too, love the man looking tiny in the sprawling giant tree.

  2. julia fogg Says:

    Well, I thought it might be a little negative but with some warmth the garden will flourish in early summer and I’ll post some ‘after’ shots that might encourage folks!

  3. Tom Says:

    Barmy here… sorry!

    Love the piece though, a fresh view of what exactly it is you do! So much more technical than I knew or imagined. In the hands of the Gods a lot of the time then. I wonder if clients need reminding of that.

  4. julia fogg Says:

    Clients good! Contractors good – design good!

  5. Elizabeth Says:

    Looks pretty English to me. Soggy and boggy. Such evocative photos.
    Gave me a new appreciation of Kipling.
    Still freezing here and a snow storm expected on Monday.

  6. julia fogg Says:

    That’s us – soggy and boggy – awful for unacceptably long. Off to Patagonia in a few days . . . . similar temps but less rain hopefully.

  7. daseger Says:

    Great post, Julia–I’m reading of terrible weather over there! Even worse than ours. I hope you and yours are doing ok–but perhaps you’re already in Patagonia.

  8. julia fogg Says:

    Awful weather here and looking forward to getting away. Elizabeth http://worldexamingingworks.typepad.com/ewix/
    says another snow storm due over New York on Monday. When will it end.

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