Brickwork in the Rose Garden

Earlier in the month we started clearing the paths in the rose garden. After that came the lion's share of the work, which involved removing smaller stumps and chainsawing the remaining stumps to the ground. We can't get a stump grinder in and we have decided to opt for white vinegar dropped into drill hole, a handful of mycorrhizal fungi and a heavy mulch. That'll eat them to nothing in a few months or years. We have mulch coming out of our ears and rather than disturb the soil, we're opting for something simpler, faster and less likely to wake up the weeds. 

gardening, hopwood, life on pig row

Fryer's Roses have kindly donated forty roses: Trumpeter (Red), Korresia (yellow), Iceberg (white) and You're Beautiful (pink) for us to grow and propagate from as we bring the rose garden back up to full strength. However, we do have a problem with the boundaries, the old brickwork is largely buried under moss, roots and couch grass. This means we have to set up a line to get some sort of level. We're never going to get it straight and we need to follow the original lines or else these old Edwardian brickwork boundaries could move drastically. A quick measurement of the garden reveals that as the garden moves away from the hall it expands outwards, bulging at the seams and eventually is around eighteen inches wider by the time it gets to the steps. We'd like to say this was a design plan but we all know that string in the rain doesn't run true. Thankfully today is a dry day and we need to find all those buried bricks, clean them off and stack them again in a herring bone shape. Only a few thousand to restore.

gardening, life on pig row

Surprisingly, the bricks clean up well and broken ones are stacked lower down in the design rather than opt for new bricks we are using what is there. It is obvious that there has been some new additions over the years but the older bricks are still there and are still strong after a hundred years of weather and being buried.

gardening, roses, life on pig row

A few metres later and the brickwork is rising from the past to its former glory. The bricks bar the foundations have all been laid dry and we will continue to do this. We have to be careful that we follow what has been done before in the hard landscaping, even the paths we will add will be temporary, largely bark. We discuss with students about removing eighteen inches of turf from the opposite side of the wall and planting wild flowers there to create a border that runs into the formal lawn and gives an edge for the lawnmower, this avoids these newly laid bricks being disturbed or cut by the lawnmower blades, a bad thing for brick and blade.

rose gardens, life on pig row, hopwood hall

We find one of the original post tops buried in the soil, it's intact and we're in luck; this red clay top made by Nightstar - still emblazoned beneath it - is cleaned up. We find nothing about what Nightstar was or is.

gardening, life on pig row, hopwood hall

Then returned to its former home with some new mortar as the bricks laid that morning reaches the old post. 

life on pig row

Soon, we have around a third of the rose garden brickwork done and in the background a bonfire burns to make us fresh potash; the wood taken from the rose garden, the whips, the willows, the beech and stumps crackling away. A few more weeks and the ground will be ready, the wild flowers sown and a garden from the past will be back again, being tended by a new generation of gardeners at the hall. It just shows what can be achieved in a short time.

gardening, roses, life on pig row, hopwood hall


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