Sunday, July 20, 2014

Further news on The Great Wall of Drummonds

I have been somewhat remiss, because back in October and November last year, after I got back from NZ and before the weather heated up too much, I began construction on the second tier of the retaining walls in my backyard. And only mentioned it a teensy bit in my December garden news. OK, I guess I had a little other shit going on, like losing my best friend, but somehow I completely failed to write a post about the construction. Those following me on Facebook though, did get to see a few photos.

what I began last October...

The lower wall is complete, and has held up wonderfully over the last 12 months, and I especially appreciate having all weather steps to go fetch the firewood now it's a bit rainy and cold. I've still to dig the pond, but that can wait.

new wall going up behind old black wattle which has got to go

The second tier began by placing tyres behind the old stone retaining wall so that I could marry it seamlessly with the rendered tyre wall. I even rendered this area last year so I could prevent the continuous incursion of more sand from higher up the dune ending up down the bottom. Then I constructed the stairs.

see how I placed some tyres behind the old wall?

The stairs are awesome. In fact one of my friends came over last summer and suggested turning this space into an outdoor cinema with the steps making a mini amphitheatre. What an awesome idea!!

Bring cushions and popcorn, future movie nights!

I've decided to move the site for the pizza oven. Instead of next to the seat I'll build it where the mulberry tree is. As much as I enjoy the mulberry harvest, the tree is too close to the house and too close to my clothes line. Thankfully, last year's cuttings have struck successfully so I'll be planting a replacement further up the dune once its stabilised.

bye bye mulberry tree

new mulberry plants from cuttings struck last year

The second wall is much higher than the first one, and I've tapered it back a bit more to make it stronger. Building with tyres filled with compacted sand is a pretty heavily over engineered solution and even without render it's been obvious how effective they are at doing their job. And I love the earthiness of the rendered surface once it's completed.

the beginning of rendering the second tier

I have been hoarding bottles and cans as per usual and will begin padding the tyres in the next few weeks before rendering begins. In the meantime I need to finish off the second tier and construct the ponds for the cascade. For this I cannibalised my old Fisher and Paykel Dishdrawer dishwasher.

bottle supply, not all drunk by me

If ever I bought a more crap piece of machinery it was that Dishdrawer. Numerous conversations with Kiwis on chairlifts in New Zealand convinced me I'd bought a lemon, but that F&P got their act together with the second edition. However, I wasn't prepared to spend the $650 to replace the electronics (because a mouse pissed on them) or the $1500 for a new one, instead finding a second hand Bosch for $300 that's only had 6 months of use. So I pulled out the drawers, threw out the box and now I've got 2 ponds! Lined with pond liner they'll be perfect!

extremely expensive ponds!

I'm sad about having to pull out the wattle at the end because it's in the way. They are short living trees so there's no point trying to keep it and there's some very nice looking wood I can use for firewood. Next year anyway, if I'm still here. Just because I'm retiring doesn't mean I'm necessarily jet setting off straight away....

that tree in the foreground has to go

So next weekend I'll be wielding the chainsaw and doing some much needed tree lopping. I would have done it this weekend, but we're now experiencing storm front after storm front, making garden work sporadic, if not totally impossible. There's quite a lot of dead wood and trees on the block, and now that most of the dune is stabilised, I can get in there and really go to town.

wow, before steps it was just overgrown sand dune

That's next!


  1. That is an amazing construction Naomi, all that hard yakker will keep you fit for your next bout of travel, when ever that may be. I see you have weeded back all the green crew cut we left growing out of the tyres... lol...Just a tip, when you re-plant the mulberry cuttings keep them pruned back so you can harvest them. I watched all the birds enjoying the top of the tree mulberries.

    1. yes, all the greenery has to go before the wall can be rendered. it took me 2 days to remove it all! I've only just repotted the mulberry cuttings, not yet ready to replant them in the garden yet, but thanks for the tip.