Necessity is the mother of invention

Hi All,

I have mentioned in past posts how we lived in town until my dad died and left us both the town house and Serendipity Farm (once most dryly known as “Highfield Gardens”). The house in town consists of a smallish 3 bedroom house and a self-contained unit out the back of the house. The two are separated but no-where near enough when an elderly man is living in the unit and he is hell bent on watching EVERYTHING that you do. My father had no intentions of giving this man his notice and neither should he have been. It was up to me to get along with this man and I tried incredibly hard at first. I even went shopping for this man who had polio as a child and needed a cane to walk. I just saw him as a lonely old man. After a while it became more and more obvious that this man was not what he appeared to be. We had recently bought Qi, now our daughter’s dog, but back then our little girl. She didn’t like this man and barked at him (she was then, and is still, a very VERY good judge of character…). Steve caught him quietly telling her that she should shut up or he would throttle her…it went downhill from that point. It’s very difficult to have people trouping in and out of your back yard, but more so when they are people that you don’t like and that don’t like you. We would have taxi drivers loudly calling us ‘assholes’ because of something that one of this mans friends had said. We started to avoid him and then most strenuously! It became somewhat difficult to go out of our back door because it faced the unit at the back of the property and was only separated by a distance of about 15 metres. Our lovely little organic veggie garden went to seed as did the fruit trees out the back that we were unable to prune and that were regularly plundered by the Troll’s friends. Whenever anyone would walk out of the back door, the curtains in the unit would move. I stopped going out the back door at all and this lasted till the troll moved out 15 months later. The ‘troll’ as he shall be known as from this point forwards needed total control of his environment. He had my father fooled incredibly and whenever he felt threatened by anything that we did, he would phone up my father which would inevitably result in my father and I coming to verbal blows. I decided to stop the troll from watching everything that we did in our back yard by erecting a small partition between the two buildings designed to allow us a degree of privacy. The troll, who had just lost his prime view of my daughters bedroom window,  was almost immediately on the telephone…the ensuing argument almost resulted in us leaving Tasmania and moving back to Western Australia. I refused to remove the barrier and ended up putting up a 3 metre wall over the entire back yard. We got our privacy and the troll and his friends got nasty. When my father died it was such a relief when the troll decided to move on.

Again, our creativity came into the fore when we had to work out how to erect this 3 metre barrier and yet still have an attractive space for us to inhabit. We were effectively making a corridor. Here is what we did…

Here’s the 3 metre fence coverd with that bamboo stuff that you can get from Bunning’s. The pathway was there before but we dug out the area around the pathway, installed the pavers, filled it with bluemetal to stop the drainage problems and dogs dirty feet. We built the fence first as whatever we did behind the fence we could take our time on. We did do the bluemetal on a day that the troll was out because we needed to barrow it back and forwards. The trolls abode was behind the fence and we had finally gotten our freedom back. I remember sitting with a glass of beer (it was a hot day) on the steps that you can see on the lower left hand side of the picture almost in tears of relief because it was the first time in 6 months that I was able to sit on my back step without being watched.

We crown lifted that large camellia in the foreground and shaped the camellia in the background. The maples in this picture are the very first of our now over 900 pot plants that we started to collect. We were into bonsai and all things Japanese at the time which gave us the incentive to create a small Japanese style garden in the first place. Somewhere that we could get away from the world (and the troll!)

After we had finished off the first area, we decided that we needed to block off the trolls view from his kitchen (over to the left hand side out of sight in this photo) because despite his protestations to my father that he wouldn’t watch us, we knew what a lying old git he was, so the next stage of our ‘development’ started. Despite having no money, we did everything in stages. I am sure that my father thought that we were using our horticultural knowledge to grow drugs, because he kept asking us how we could afford to do what we did living on a Centrelink allowance. His prime phrase was “Done ya dough” with a shake of his head. We don’t think we did our dough, we think we improved the garden and gave us back our sanity and sense of freedom. Here Steve has just finished building the deck on what was one of the hottest days that year. We dug out and bluemetalled this area when we prepared the other area as we had already decided to put ‘something’ in this corner. As you can see, Qi is sitting with Steve. Bezial could have cared less about all of the activity outside. It was hot, he was somewhere cool laying down but little Qi was always out there nose in the activities ‘helping’.

Here is where Bezial spent most of the day when he wasn’t cooling down inside. This is his favoured position to lay in the sun and he is next to my daughters rabbit enclosure that Steve built…clever isn’t he?

And here is Sergeant Piggins telling Steve that she isn’t all that impressed with his string lines…

 And here they both are after a hard days supervision of Steves work.

Here is the finished result. I know that the little lattice bit on the 2 poles looks a bit weird, but that brick wall was the trolls kitchen and that bit of lattice blocked the trolls view of us. As you can see, this little bit of deck on 2 levels most certainly improved our backyard space. Previous to this the area was lawn with the few shrubs and trees that you can see. Steve put a hole in the higher and smaller deck so that the Acer pseudoplatanus (Common sycamore) tree that had grown adventitiously in the back garden was allowed to keep growing. Its almost filled up that hole now and we are going to have to cut it a new hole. We might have to remove the smaller deck one day but thats another post…

Here we have the finished result. Not too shabby we think. We built that bench underneath the lattice from old hardwood planks that we sourced from dads property when we were minding it for him for 3 weeks (we also bought Bezial on that momentous occasion). Steve built the deck in a single day. We are eternally grateful for the loan of a small cement mixer that made the installation of all of the decking poles so much easier. Qi has installed herself on the dog bed and it’s officially hers! What you don’t see is the sweat, blood and tears that Steve had to go through on this amazingly hot day and him sprawled out on the deck with a bottle of beer relishing every last drop of it.

As you can see there really wasn’t a lot of room to work with but we did the best that we could. Despite disliking the troll to the max, I always made sure that he was not disadvantaged by anything that we did. For the final 15 months (after the BIG fight) he only went out once a fortnight. We knew the days that he would go and roughly how long he would be and so we had this time to erect things, build things and generally do what we wanted to do in the back yard. Once a fortnight for about 4 hours I could go out the back! We built this entire fence by first sinking the poles into concrete on the first fortnight, and then we built the fence the next fortnight. The fortnight after that we put up the bamboo and not too long after that we built the deck and put up the barrier over the kitchen window of the unit that you can see in the pictures above. On my father’s very last Christmas, he came to our house. We had a lovely bbq lunch with all the trimmings out on the deck and he looked around him while he was sitting with his plate on his lap and said “it’s not bad out here you know”. That was a massive compliment from my father.

It was easy to work with such a small space. We are finding it a whole lot harder to sort out what we are going to do with 4 acres. The forest garden is a given. I have several books on hold at the library that I am going to research and use to help us with this project. The vegetable garden is going to be a sort of manic potager with all sorts of interesting home-made structures. Some of my dwarf picea might find their new homes in the potager and I fancy mixing up all sorts of shapes of raised garden beds in this area. It’s all inside my head at the moment and so very much of it remains blank. I guess it will all slowly come together and it will give me endless hours of fun planning it out. That’s me…I love to plan. I just suck at the implementation of said plan! That’s where my magpie instincts come in. I go to different blogs, websites, books etc. and pick out those things that interest me. One day this place is going to be something special. Until we manage to knock off the weedy rough bits, it’s going to be a bit rough around the edges. We are taking photographs of everything that we do around here as one day we will look through rose coloured glasses at everything that we have had to endure and we won’t remember just what we had to go through to get it to that point. We have almost been here for a year now. In that time we haven’t had much time to get stuck into the garden. Our studies have pulled us constantly and now that we have time, we are somewhat overwhelmed by just where to start. That’s where we have made our list and tomorrow the agapanthus move from their happy home in the veggie garden and get relocated over to Frank’s fence. Who says we are not good neighbours…at least the agapanthus that takes over will be easier to control than the lomandra (sags) Frank :o)


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mum
    Nov 19, 2011 @ 13:03:11

    See, you can see just how nice a job Steve did there ! Really, you use your own imagination to do what you want in the garden pen, that’s what makes them great. Your dad also would have seen just how much work it took to make it a nice area to sit too. Have you removed the great wall yet, as you were going to? Even half of it to still give a little privacy there. The agapanthus will be fine along the fence line too,& look pretty when in bloom. Don’t be in a hurry to deweed everything either, you’ll eventually get there.Start as you mean to go on, & do a raised bed at a time. You’ll find that will be enough to do each time, but get seedlings of summer veg going ready. Don’t forget, once you have a good layer of dirt on top, plant right away! It gives the incentive to carry on .


  2. Kym
    Nov 19, 2011 @ 15:11:46

    The decking looks lovely Fran. What a pain to have such a troll living so close. I hope Karma gives him a good bite on the bum! I’m sure that our husbands would have lots to talk about with both of them being good at creating what we think up 🙂


  3. athursdayschild has a long way to go and much to be thankful for.
    Apr 19, 2013 @ 05:56:31

    I SO love that. It’s just a beautiful Zen place that has yoga written all over it. I love being in the middle of one hundred acres where I can’t actually see the neighbors.


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