All good things must come to an end. My latest dive into the pleasures of WoodblocX had to reach a conclusion. Well, a metamorphosis. From pleasure into pain.
I finished the build in a bit over eight hours (a bit under the time I’d allowed) so had a sucky sweet left over. I sucked that pondering a conundrum inadvertently (or vertently) set by fellow blogger and player with words Gill Heavens (which allows me to get the traditional mention out of the way at the beginning). I would post a link direct to her conundrum-posing but I want you to explore her blog so I won’t.
Anyhow, Thursday March the first (or 1 March if you are so inclined) dawned. This was the day which would end my period of reflection in which I reflected on the success of my efforts in constructing Edifice 2. Today was the day on which I would be the lucky recipient of some 7-8 tonnes of soil of varying types, grit and wotnot. All of which would have to be shovelled by hand, arm, chest muscles and whatever else I had to hand, into the aforementioned edifice.
Now there were some bits. Bitty things. The raising of Edifice2 from 4 to 5 layers had resulted in some necessary revisions to the capping on top. Being a skinflint, I’d decided that where something needed to be shortened, I would shorten it. So I only ordered bits that needed to be longer than the bits originally supplied. Easy to cut down the oversized bits with my lovely electric saw. Except that there was no room in the garage to set up a workbench. I thought of using the lounge but getting the sawdust out of the carpet would be a pain. So it had to be sawing outside. There is, as you will no doubt appreciate, a technical impediment to using electric power tools outdoors when it is precipitating. But no worry. The rest of the capping can go on anytime it suits me.
When I placed the order, March 1 was forecast to be mild, not too warm, not too cold, dry and sort of sunny. Delivery was scheduled for 7.45 am, leaving me loads of time to do the biz (which involved a lot of mixing of mixes, not just shovelling). The delivery eventually arrived at 11.30. I felt sorry for the lorry driver who had made it up the hill out of his depot but was placing bets with himself on whether he would get back down that hill to the depot in one piece. I was now wearing multi-layers! The snow was snowing. Gently. And I had to shift the damned stuff whatever. I didn’t take a photo. No time wasting on such luxuries. I got shovelling.
The snow got snowier, as you can see. It camouflages my mixing efforts. To the left you can see the remains of the final bulk bag of soil. I had eventually to admit defeat. I shifted what was left the following morning. You can see the little bits of missing capping. Well you can’t because they are missing. But you can see where they will be going (hint: look for the black lumps).
The snow has cleared! Here you can see some evidence of my mixings. The three planters in the foreground are plain soil. Imagine a mix of white hellebores in front, white lavatera in the middle and white lilies at the back, offset with some rather garish creeping phlox. Two longer ones in the middle are a mix of grit and soil. They will be filled with alpines. The longest one at the back is enriched soil, with ingredients pumping up the acidity a bit. I’ll surprise you with the planting of that. Incidentally, Edifice2 is totally peat-free.
The little red balls are crab apples. The snow brought with it an invasion of fieldfares. Nuff said.
Notice a couple of pipes? I’ll come back to those in a bit.
I’ve referred to my Monty Pythonesque “castellated effect” when viewed from the street. This pic shows what I was after. Which, of course, is what I got.
I mentioned the pipes. When I was planning this little baby, I was conscious of how much effort would have to go into watering. Whether a hand-held hose or a succession of watering cans, I could be storing up a Machiavellian rod for my own back. So I incorporated irrigation. You can’t see much of it yet because it’s all under the surface, apart from two bits of pipe you can see in the last couple of photos.
There are lots of irrigation systems for gardens, costing anything from a few squid to the proverbial arm and a leg. I came across an American product a while back and have been installing it progressively around the garden over the last three or four years. Note the “three or four years”. It’s a system that is weather-resistant. You can run it around on the surface, or attached to fences, under a mulch cover or, as in this case, buried deep. The core pipework is half-inch poly tubing, tough and freeze-safe, unlike most garden hoses and micro-bore pipes that will split if water in them freezes and thaws. It’s pretty cheap to boot.
I’m killing the proverbial two birds here – also showing you some of the lining I installed on the outside walls. I’ll come back to that later. You’ll notice, though, the pipework running along the ground between the planters and fixed up higher along the walls of the beds. I will later attach the irrigation sprayers to those high runs of pipe. The lower bits will be carefully packed in shovelled soil to maintain the curves of the pipework.
I used an American irrigation kit, bought from Homgar in the UK. Each kit costs £14.99 with a £4.99 delivery charge per order (at time of writing). Homgar also sell via Amazon but it works out 1p more expensive to buy a single kit and £5 more for each additional kit you order! My order was for two kits to fit edifice2 and another two to extend the system in the back garden.
Each kit comprises a 15m length of half-inch tubing, a selection of connectors (2-way, 3-way, tap fittings and pipe ends) 5 sprayer stakes, each individually controllable and with micro-bore piping to connect to the main pipe, a tool to puncture the main pipe to make that connection and a decent selection of interchangeable spray heads. If you need more than 5 sprayer stakes, it’s much cheaper to buy a second kit than to source individual parts (Homgar only sell the kits; extras are available on ebay but the shipping cost from the US is exhorbitant).
At the starting end of the main pipe I will add a standard “Hozelock-type” hose adapter as the supplied ones only fit to a tap. The main piping is rather hard so the teeth in the hose adapter don’t dig into it as they do into an ordinary hose so there will be a bit of leakage. But that’s easily solved by pumping a bit of silicone sealant around the end of the pipe before you screw on the cover of the adapter.
WoodblocX recommend that you line their planters. I’ve used pond liner. You could get away without lining but what you will then find is that when you water, as the soil firms up, water will tend to seep out through some of the horizontal joins between the layers of blocX and run down the outside. This looks a little odd when you get patches of wet blocX facing. I haven’t bothered to line the internal walls though as any seepage will just be from one planter to the next.
I’m going to add some solar lights once I’ve planted up. For now, I’ve added a battery operated PIR light to light the drive. It’s a curvy drive and in the dark it’s difficult to see the edge. Typically, the reversing light on the car is on the wrong side!
I cut down and fixed the remaining bits of capping. Done and dusted. And I still haven’t opened the second pack of sucky sweets.