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Gardening for angry water gods

Can anyone recommend good flowers/ shrubs/trees for a tiered hillside garden facing west?

Tis a long and weary story, and this can only be a truncated version of it; beginning Maundy Thursday last, when a man from Thames Water asked us if we had a leak. We said no. He apologised, replaced our meter, and added with a troubled frown that maybe we should contact Thames Water. I did. Thames Water apologised for wasting our time; he had been sent to examine a leak further down the road and had come to the wrong house. Ah well.

Later, a leak appeared, cascading down the hill and pouring into the road. Thames Water told us it was our problem. A plumber magically appeared and told us it was definitely their problem. He didn't charge us for his time, bless him, and spoke to Thames Water telling them, in no uncertain terms, that this was an environmental health hazard, that they were liable, and they had to get here within half an hour. They listened to him, took him very seriously, and got here within three days.

Turned out it was a drain, a waste pipe. Not a sewage pipe, but still...they drained it every day for weeks, then they pushed investigative doodads down there; it was blocked. They pushed a camera down there; they lost it. When they found the camera, it couldn't take any photos because the pipe was blocked. It was decided that the camera could not help until the pipe was unblocked, but they couldn't unblock the drain because they couldn't get a photo of what was blocking it. We had lorries, we had trucks, we had pumps, we had pipes, we heard theories about facial wipes, theories about leaves, theories about tree roots,we may well have had NASA camped out here seeking extra-terrestrial explanations. It took a long time, but eventually, a strategy emerged:

It seemed a pipe had collapsed, the mystery of how notwithstanding. Thames Water agreed to fix the pipe free of charge and to reinstate the garden. To fix the pipe, a trench needed to be dug. They dug out all the trees and all the plants, to my very great woe, including a rather lovely old yellow rose, and a hedge that ensured privacy on one side.

The men who came to fix the trench found a New Damp Patch which they declared as a freshwater problem, and probably something we would have to pay for, and get sorted before they could continue fixing the wastewater drain. They issued this chirpy news just before downing tools and going home. They are wastewater men you see, a different breed.

Thames Water turned up and tried to tell us we would have to pay for repair to the freshwater drain. At this point, I got a bit ghetto and, shall we say, gently remonstrated with Thames Water, who agreed that they would repair the freshwater drain free of charge, and reinstate any concrete damage. Then they would get their wastewater men to return and repair the wastewater drain.

The freshwatermen repaired the freshwater drain, but it was decided to leave the concrete repair until the wastewater men had finished, for obvious reasons. Then the wastewater drain was repaired. Now all that remains is for the concrete to be reinstated by the freshwater men, and the plants to be reimbursed by the wastewater men. I keep checking our mail to see if ours is an Innsmouth postcode.

All this palaver leaves us with a rather interesting conundrum. We now have these quite pretty tiered stone walls with soil on and between them. I was thinking ferns because their roots are shallow, but suspect the garden gets too much sun in summer for that to work. Any gardeners out there with suggestions, I would be very grateful.

There's a gruesome explanation for the old 'London Bridge is falling down' ditty, when the question of why the bridge won't stay up is addressed with this solution 'Set a man to watch all night, watch all night, watch all night, set a man to watch all night, with a gay lady/dance over my lady.' Some think this refers to human sacrifice long ago, in much the same way as workmen were sometimes walled up in their handiwork to please the gods. Me, I think it was an act of despair perpetrated by those who had to deal with the precursors of Thames Water. Long ago when life was short and tempers were shorter, some riverside Celt heard the intake of breath and the shaking of a Roman gaffer's head once too often. If I find the remnants of their ancient struggle washed up under this hill somewhere, I won't be at all surprised.

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
romney
Sep. 11th, 2013 04:58 pm (UTC)
Angry Water Gods? Perhaps. But also, perhaps Mysterious Ancient Telluric Forces, drawn by the positive spiritual field around and about your property and trying to restore the Sacred Geometry of the land, spawned a baby Water Spirit that would have developed into a Holy Well or Healing Spring.

Now (and I can only note, at your insistence) the Men in Black/Blue/Whatever have descended, desecrated the site and removed the Spirit. It will now be installed in the local sewerage works for the benefit of their shareholders, who are probably French or something. Merde!

*shakes head* This is going to take more than some incense and a wind-chime to fix.

Edited at 2013-09-11 05:08 pm (UTC)
smokingboot
Sep. 11th, 2013 08:52 pm (UTC)
*Sobs*
What have I done? What have I done?

I've been so blind... so stupid...

A plinth, that'll help. Plinths always make things better.
semyaza
Sep. 11th, 2013 06:29 pm (UTC)
I can imagine thyme cascading over your tiered stone walls. Or a groundcover rosemary.
smokingboot
Sep. 11th, 2013 08:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you for these, Rosemary does very well around here...but I am not lucky with thyme. Still, perhaps its time to try again, it's such a gorgeous herb.
semyaza
Sep. 12th, 2013 02:31 am (UTC)
You could try several varieties. My property faces NNW - the herb garden at the front is raised with shallow soil and everything does very well, the oregano in particular.
smokingboot
Sep. 13th, 2013 06:25 am (UTC)
I hadn't even considered oregano.

A herb garden might be a luscious way to go. Combined with heathers and a few alpines it could be very cute.

The irritation is that there is one tree and only one I could have done with them lopping, a self-seeded ash that is on the verge of blocking my view of the city. It is, of course, the only one they left, and it grows proud, wee ashlings beginning to spring up all around it.
semyaza
Sep. 13th, 2013 08:03 am (UTC)
Oregano seeds itself like nobody's business, as does catnip which is a splendid plant in all respects. Bumblebees love it and my neighbour's cat communes with it at midnight.

Given the ash dieback I suppose one ought to be thankful for wee ashlings.
november_girl
Sep. 11th, 2013 08:08 pm (UTC)
Lavender?
smokingboot
Sep. 11th, 2013 08:48 pm (UTC)
Lavender...
is a very good idea, thank you. Not only does it grow well around here, but Russ loves it as a fresh smell...and if we get plenty, we can poach pears from our little tree in it ;-)
yapman
Sep. 11th, 2013 10:26 pm (UTC)
Bay? My tiny bay plant was planted up against a west facing wall and is now more of a tree. Might help you get back some of the privacy, eventually.
smokingboot
Sep. 12th, 2013 11:19 pm (UTC)
Yes, we have some kind of laurel on the other side which produces tiny white flowers and a good hedge.

I'll think about bay, thank you for the suggestion...especially if I go for the whole herb garden thing. Very elegant plant.

Edited at 2013-09-13 06:26 am (UTC)
november_girl
Sep. 12th, 2013 11:18 pm (UTC)
It's all sounding beautifully herbaceous, and there's a lot to be said for plants you can eat. Even if the pears don't pick up the taste. :-)
smokingboot
Sep. 13th, 2013 06:34 am (UTC)
Awesome puds are us!
...It's at times like this, we give thanks to rich deep vanilla and its old buddy honey!
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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