I love rock walls. It was great to discover that the house we bought had a small rock wall along one property line. My neighbor James, that wonderful guy who gave me fantastic manure, told me it is called a ditch wall. Not a very nice name, really. To be honest, it didn’t look like much either.
The ditch wall is part of our traditional Hawthorn tree hedging, which is very common in Ireland. The trees are planted all along the wall. The row of Hawthorn trees are planted close together which forms a thick barrier that prevents animals from getting through. I’d say the many thorny branches help keep them away, as well. I live in an area that is still mainly fields. It is not uncommon for us to see cows on the other side of these trees. The Hawthorn is covered in 5 petaled white flowers from May through June. In Ireland there is a strong connection with these traditional Hawthorns and fairies. I read that it was once believed that putting a cutting of Hawthorn in your milking parlor would give you more milk and it would be creamier. Legend also claims that bad fortune from the fairies would befall anyone who took down or damaged a Hawthorn tree. There are some very strong beliefs in fairies!
The first year here, I spent a lot of time cutting away brambles. Piles and piles of brambles. We could, sort of, make out the wall after I cleared the brambles. Our row of Hawthorns, and the ditch wall, are completely covered in ivy and whatever brambles that weren’t cut down last year. This year, I’ve taken on the challenge of attacking the ivy. This is quite an undertaking! Ivy can take on a life of it’s own and completely attack trees and the surrounding area. I’m taking it one step at a time. I have the eye on the prize: I want to grow wild flowers along the stone wall; the small, stone, ditch wall, that I think is just beautiful!
Here are some before and after pictures so far (actually, the order of photos is more like after and then before!).
Happy home-made gardening, one step at a time!
Here are pictures of what I’ve done so far and what I still have to do!
I love this, Dana. As well as the wall being evocative of the hands that put it there once in time, I think there’s a very special relationship between trees, rocks/stones, moss, ferns etc. This is a cameo of what many a Chelsea gardener will try to emulate again this year, and you have it ready made! What are your plans for the area once covered in cardboard?
Thank you Susan! My plans for the cleared space are to fill it with color. I have always wanted poppies! (funny thing to always want, isn’t it?) I bought seeds for 3 different varieties. I also have seeds for bee balm (Monarda Lambada), dwarf bachelor buttons (Centaurea cyanus), and lupine (lupinus Russell hybrids). You mentioned fern, which I am starting to think about, too. I’ll need to keep working to clear all of that wall to get in everything I want! 🙂
From your before pictures I can see how much work you did to uncover the wall! It will be lovely when you have a wildflower garden in front of it. I have a rock wall along the back of my property that is covered in brush. I dream about clearing it out so I can admire its beauty, yet I can’t seem to get the courage to tackle it. Your tenacity is inspiring as usual! Also, I am curious about your cardboard method. How long does it take to kill the grass/growth so you can plant? I tried this once and it seemed to take forever. Does it need to be done in the fall and wintered over?
Thanks so much for the compliment Eileen! The cardboard method to kill the grass takes about 3 months, realistically. I don’t think it matters when you do it, but it’s easiest over the winter. I admit it did not look pretty. I had a seaweed smell to my front garden, too, when I added my seaweed! But I think it is worth it. Hopefully my neighbors don’t mind (too much)! As for your wall, I’d offer that it only takes a little at a time to get started. Good luck!
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