Anytime I inherit something I think I should make use of it somehow and feel guilty if there are materials that aren’t made use of somehow – it’s my green approach to yard work. Such was the case with the brick garden wall. I inherited some bricks that seemed to be just about enough to build an arched garden wall to raise the bed on the sloped side of the house. I had to buy a few more to complete it and stuck the whole thing together with construction grade Liquid Nails. It has braved the elements for several years and held up a lot of dirt, endured me steeping along it while adding new pounds of mulch each spring and the constant influx of new plantings.
It was ugly. I knew it. Yes – I know you think it. I am fine with it. I was happy with it when I made it – I used my level to carefully level each layer of bricks as I placed them but over time, with erosion, and the dying of nearby roots, the brick wall was no longer level. As I mentioned, they were inherited – good enough to use – but not loved, and once it became a rickety wall it grew to be the bain of my garden. After the installation of the new siding it suddenly became even worse.
I decided that it needed a change – irregular colonial gray flagstone in a stacked wall style. That was what I originally dreamed of years ago, but felt like I should use what was around. I did not have the heart, will, or strength to remove the brick wall, so I decided to build the stone wall around the bricks. At the end, I did end up removing a couple of levels of brick that are now in the garden cart awaiting some project or another person who likes to use what’s around.
I ordered one pallet of stones that arrived bright and early last Saturday morning (after pleading with the manager of the garden shop for an early morning delivery) that was promptly dropped on its head at the street so they could take their pallet back. I couldn’t believe the size of it – sprawling across the street enmeshed in the chicken wire holding it together. The mail man drove by later in the day after I had started taking loads to the hill and said he ‘couldn’t believe that I’d finish it that day’ and that I should ‘be safe.’ I felt like one of my most loved children’s books – Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel. In the story, Mike Mulligan insists that he and his lovely steam shovel, Mary Anne (the only steam shovel that I thought was such a beautiful girl steam shovel complete with a sweet smile when I was younger – and still do when I reread that book), could do as much in a day as a hundred men could do in a week. Mike Mulligan proved all of the townspeople wrong when he dug the town hall in just a day. I felt like Mike Mulligan last Saturday determined to prove to the mail man that I could do it.
With only one minor injury – a stone smashed finger- to speak of and several days of extremely stiff and sore muscles that are almost the rite of passage to christen a new gardening year, I came out relatively unscathed.
I worked until about 7 in the evening, and had my new stone garden wall perfectly rounded, surrounding the bricks – only missing one level of wider top stone to go along the final rim. I shouldn’t have waited to make the change – my neighbors love it, my family loves it, I have a happy husband who always prefers stone work over anything else. Believe it or not – I thought he’d never remember the pile of stones that blocked his mail truck no Saturday afternoon – but even the mail man drove by when I was washing the dust from the new stone on Monday right after work and said that he loved it and couldn’t believe that I’d done it and I said I had in just one day.