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I am writing on Thanksgiving to give thanks to the men who made this week’s projects happen seamlessly. For years I have known that the decrepit railroad tie patio wall and vast peony collection needed attention. Earlier this year, I found a landscape company who is knowledgeable, willing, incredibly strong. Although my high school Spanish was of no help (other than for smiles and giggles), the company owner speaks prefect English and both projects went splendidly. Below are photos of the events of this week.

The 40+ year old railroad tie wall is dismantled. Fortunately the earth remained upright. Only one huge skink surfaced as the base was removed.
What a pile. I was in awe of the strength of the crew.
With the ties out of the way the base was leveled, blue dust tamped, and the landscape cloth placed on the earth side…held in place with aluminum nails.
The first 6X6X10 goes into place. I had the opportunity to lengthen the wall’s footprint. This is why I am always on hand when projects are in motion. Had to remind the men driving the base stakes NOT to drive them through the downspout drain. There are only two downspouts from the entire roof system, so plugging one would be a disaster.
Two other men from the crew measure and cut posts.
Once the walls were completed, the men moved the existing rock to the tarp, then dug down to lower the elevation of the path, since over the years, it rose, causing the patio not to drain well during heavy rains. This was a big job, where even a digging bar was necessary. The men never broke a sweat.
The completed wall. Hurrah! Next fall I will apply solid stain to match the other end of the patio. So pleasant to have additional seating and that decrepit wall gone. My job remains to add additional rock to the area…a never ending task in these gardens. In addition to my Mulchqueen nick name, the landscaper named me Rock-queen. Alas.
With my back to the house, this is the view of the inner wall. The oriental poppies seen here will look so pretty come spring when they fill this area.
This photo shows the current condition of the patio. With 15 YO deck boards removed, come spring this slab will be power washed and prepped for the next paint job. No more deck boards! After much research, I am considering Olympic Rescue It! Has any reader used this product? Concrete slab paints seem to have improved over the past 15 years. Many have granite or rock in the mix, but that would be way too rough for moi. Notice the older retaining wall that appears solid. I keep it painted and watch for any termite infestation, as I never want to replace THAT wall! The left side of that wall will be tweaked a bit as the “slope from hell” remains such a problem.
The heavy soil removed from the lowered path elevation was re-used along the east tree line, a path I use to the burn barrel. Hope no toads or skinks were covered in the process. One HUGE skink popped out of the ground during the wall’s removal. I first admired it then carried it to the old woodpile, in hopes that it will find cover for winter. The ground remains thawed now, so it can dig another hidey-hole if necessary. A pile of composting leaves is nearby too. I was so excited when this skink was in my gloved hands, that I did not snap a photo. The skink was 12″ long and SO strong, as it attempted to move from my grip. The grandfather of all Swallowtail Cottage skinks!!!
As mentioned, I found a buyer for my entire collection of heirloom peony plants. For the past twenty years, I grew the small box of tubers sent to me by the current owners of my home place on Long Island, NY. My family left NY when I was seven, and I was glad to have a part of my past here at my home in Virginia. As seen from the holes out front, the peonies thrived under my care, but in recent years, they became a burden to harvest and sell at market. Buying habits changed, and there is competition from vendors who lowball with hybrids. With these realities, fourteen large clumps were dug, transported, and replanted at their new home. I hope to work with the new mother and help her appreciate the value of heirloom varieties. Her father, who gifted them to her new garden, purchased clumps from me a few years back, and he took the leap last week and invested in this purchase.

For 24 hours following the Big Dig, my two beds resembled a mine field, yet my wonderful landscape crew came to the rescue the very next day and filled all gaping holes with beautiful topsoil (two tons!) fit for a queen, Mulch Queen, thank you. Now I have the challenge of what to do with these areas. The bank above has failed many times over the years to support any kind of mass planting. Do followers have any suggestions for an evergreen, low-maintenance plant material for zone 7a? I am currently thinking Iberis sempervirens ‘Snowsation’ an evergreen candytuft. Often said aloud…wish I could get my hands on the guy who originally graded this property back in 1973. He would be tarred and feathered.

On this quiet, sunny, 63F Thanksgiving Day in the USA, I close on my recent projects. For now.
The thimble of Speyburn whiskey tastes great on my tongue, and soon the oven and steamer will provide a hot lunch.

To my readers, I thank you for following along. I enjoy hearing from you and I invite your comments.

Stay safe and strong and above all hopeful. Cheers!

Copyright 2021 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved