Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Moroccan Wall

At last, a drystone wall!

after: the completed wall and earthworks

before: the crumbling old wall, seen behind the line of the broom plant with new stones piled in front

In his The Stone Book Quartet, Alan Garner evokes the art of making a drystone wall in language as essential as dressed stone.

Grandfather was rough-dressing the stone for the wall, and laying it out along the hedge. Joseph unwound the line and pegged one end in the joints where Grandfather had finished the day before, and pulled the line tight against the bank. His job was to cut the bank back to receive the stone and to run a straight bed for the bottom course.
He chopped at the bank.
'Get your knee aback of your shovel,' said Grandfather. 'There's no sense in mauling yourself half to death. Come on, youth. Shape!'
Grandfather took the spade from him and looked along the bank. He walked along the raw cut edge and shaved the earth with light swings of the blade.'You've got it like a fiddler's elbow,' he said.
Grandfather grunted, and swung the blocks to lie as he wanted. They seemed to move without more than his hand on them.
Grandfather and Damper Latham worked together, as they had always done. The stone moved lightly for them.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Fruit of the Month: the Wild Strawberry

Fragaria Vesca

Tiny, deep red, of fragrant perfume and taste, wild strawberries are a tempting addition to the garden. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Stones, steps, lawn and hortus

New at Le Ripe

Le Ripe has been undergoing some changes over the past months. A no-man's land has been graced with steps, a broken drystone wall is being replaced, a vegetable patch is gradually transforming into a hortus conclusus, a lawn has been sown, a new vegetable patch is to be established.
The lawn or prato inglese as our helper Paolo likes to call it, entailed a massive job of stone-harvesting, the bulk of which we completed in one back-breaking session. Sowing the seeds was a doddle by comparison. The daily watering has been handled by a chief hose-master who has been extremely assiduous.

We have finally found builders willing to lay a drystone wall; it will run along the back of the orchard where once the farmers had made their own wall. The stone comes partly from the old wall but mostly from near Greve; our stone is called alberese, this one colombino or, simply, pietra dura, hard stone. More on this when it is completed.
The new steps made with railway sleepers, and an attractive river-pebble gravel over a cement and rock aggregate called stabilizzato and non-woven fabric to protect from weeds. Here the (mostly aromatic) plants are in place.
view of steps from below; note large iron nails hammered in horizontally to fix the sleepers in place