That Escalated Quickly

You might say escalated, you also might say excavated… Weather permitting turned into actual permission and now there’s a somewhat big hole just out the backside of our house.  And a pile of dirt.  And bulldozer ruts.  And fortunately not a concrete truck stuck in the ruts, but from what I hear it was close.  Let’s look at snowdrops first just because it’s a much better place to start.

fall snowdrops montrose

A fall blooming snowdrop in full flower this week, and enjoying the mild December we have been having. These beauties originate from Nancy Goodwin’s Garden in North Carolina and I’m forever grateful for the friend who made the trip and brought them back.

The fall snowdrops have been putting on a good show this year, and are enjoying the mostly above and sometimes below freezing temperatures we have been having.  I like the weather as well.  I don’t like how it brings up other snowdrops and bulbs and teases them out of the ground way too early, but… whatever… This year there are bigger fish to fry.

excavator in the garden

Earlier in the week, excavation for the bedroom addition began.  I didn’t expect the hole to look so big… or contain so much dirt.  

The bad news is we quickly hit bedrock.  Considering how poorly drained the whole yard is and how shallowly I am forced to plant nearly everything, this was no surprise, but the shock was that our foundation guy was able to pry and angle, crack and lift, slab by slab of rock out of the hole.  We didn’t have to drill, and that’s a saving of thousands of dollars which sadly I will not be able to put towards plant purchases.  Maybe someday I’ll be able to tally up the numbers differently but right now the checkbook is so bloody and punished even I cannot massage magic out of it.

potager in winter

It looks worse than it is… really… Believe it or not I think just a rake and some grass seed will fix almost all of this, and 98% of the real parts of the garden are still safe.

The mess does look considerable though.  At first I hoped topsoil could be saved and everything else used as fill somewhere, but it’s all a mess now and it is what it is.  Surprisingly the rock had a good amount of sand mixed in so I hope that helps it some day weather down into decent soil, but for now it’s a bit rocky and sterile and might just weather down into stone-filled concrete for all I know.

excavator in the garden

Mount Suburbia.  After the main excavation I raked the rocks out of the lawn and gave it a trim to clean up all the last leaves.  I suspect ‘what the heck is he doing, there’s a gaping hole and a mountain of fill, and he’s mowing the lawn?’ was on the minds of some, but again… whatever.

Once the foundation is finished and backfilled, the leftovers will be moved to level off the back of the lot.  I’m excited about that, and I’m also overly excited about all the rock.  Whenever I get the chance (and enough Tylenol into me) I spend some time hauling rocks and stones away into piles and walls.  It’s awesome.  I have stepping stones galore and enough big rocks to make my North American Rock Garden Society membership legitimate.  I’ve even been pushing for the foundation guy to leave his skidsteer here over the Christmas break so I can move dirt around on my own and find even more excellent rocks.  I doubt it will happen though, and it’s probably for the best.  He mentioned to my contractor something about ‘what the *heck* is up with the rocks?’, but apparently the reply was ‘you’ve seen the rest of the yard, right?’, so I think that makes it ok…

Regardless I think I’m more excited about the rocks than the actual addition.  I’ll try to remember that when I’m writing the next check out.

27 comments on “That Escalated Quickly

  1. Paddy Tobin says:

    Once the snowdrops are safe, all will be well…eventually!

    • bittster says:

      Paddy, I’ll admit this to you but no one else… There I was carelessly chainsawing yews, fothergilla, and a 20 year old stewartia, but all work stopped as I searched far and wide with a shovel for a tiny clump of self-sown snowdrops which I knew was “around there”. What an illness. The excavator could take out the side of the house and I would panic over a few snowdrops under the rubble!

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I would be feeling the same about the rocks. Rocks are hard to come by around here. I live in a river valley. All rocks are washed out and ground down to sand for the most part.
    The mountain of soil looks daunting to me. I would be chasing that Tylenol with a glass or bottle full of an amber liquid. Whew… I think your tidying up of the lawn area is the right thing to do. Those pesky leaves must be kept in their place. Rock envy is what you have given me for Christmas. 😉

    • bittster says:

      Hahahahahaha I think you are the only person who will say you’re envious of a garden littered with piles of rock everywhere! I agree though. They’re fairly nice stones, I was afraid I’d be stuck with heaps of jagged shards of shale which is usually the case around here. Maybe being at the top of the hill allowed for the last glacier to grind things down a little and push that all down to the last plot I gardened at 😉
      A funny side thought is that all this excitement over rocks would be far more fun if there were a plan that went with it. Smarter people would know where to put the rocks first rather than moving them all first and then finding a spot second… and then moving them all again…
      I guess that’s why I’ll never need a gym membership.

  3. acantholimon says:

    Your G. elwesii v. monostictus make mine look pitiful (we must have had colder snaps than you): what a wonderful photograph. I am more than a excited to see what you will be doing with your new berm and rocks–you have more than justified your NARGS membership hitherto (we’re not just about rocks you know)–but I have a hunch you’ll become an even bigger hitter with pebbles of THAT size! Congrats, and have a wonderful Holiday!

    • bittster says:

      Thank you, a wonderful holiday to you as well!
      Yes, our cold snaps so far haven’t even been excuse enough to pull out the heavy coat, so it’s been excellent this year for early snowdrops. -and it’s great to hear how far and wide the Goodwin snowdrops have traveled, I’m hoping someday I too can manage to see them in person at their Montrose home.
      About those rocks though… A few troublemakers in the Ithaca Ny area have given me some ideas, and that’s always a bad first step.

  4. Stephen G. Shaw says:

    If you lived in New England the rocks wouldn’t seem so exciting.

    • bittster says:

      Probably true! Or a six inch pot would be about as big as I’d ever go with new plant purchases, although sometimes I can knock the bottom off a one gallon to get it planted.

  5. Eliza Waters says:

    One of those trendy crevice gardens perhaps? I get the rock excitement. I got some great rocks out of a trench repair a few year back and even sweet-talked the guy into placing the big one for me. 😉

    • bittster says:

      Hmmm. I was wondering if I could bother the excavator to ‘place’ some of the biggest rocks. The problem would be that I have no idea where a good forever home for them would be!
      Wishing you a happy New Year 🙂

  6. Pauline says:

    That is a huge pile of soil! I can understand your fascination with the rocks that you found, you are going to have fun!

  7. Cathy says:

    Aagh! You’re right…. it does look worse at a first glance than it is, but I see it is only grass that seems to have suffered so far. The snowdrops are calming. 😃 Have fun hauling rocks about. I shall look forward to seeing a new rockery in the spring. 😉

    • bittster says:

      Thanks 🙂 but I want to prepare you for a longer wait. “a new rockery in the spring” would more likely be a pile of rocks somewhere in the yard for two years and then maybe a rockery… someday 😉

  8. When we dug our 20 x 30 foot main pond, we never found a rock larger than one you could hold in your hand. We’ve purchased all the rocks in our garden. So I think it’s great that you got some stone discovered right on site. I love the workmen’s “appreciative comments” about your garden. Just more proof that all of us gardeners are in our own wonderful worlds.

    • bittster says:

      There’s something to be said about rock-free soil. I think of that every time I try and plant anything bigger than a one gallon pot, and even that is sometimes a struggle!
      …and even with all these stones the idea of buying some ‘other’ rocks is still in the back of my mind. What a sickness!

  9. Paula says:

    Cool ! Save a rock for me!! 😀

  10. pbmgarden says:

    Good luck with the construction project and salvaging soil. I love rocks and used to have many at my previous home. Keep an eye out for snowdrops and have good holidays.

  11. Wow! I know exactly how you felt upon your first view of Mount Suburbia – it’s shocking how much those big digging claws can haul up. But about your rocks…trust me, a year from now you will be wondering how to get rid of all of the ones that you cannot possibly figure out any use for during the rest of your natural life. There are ALWAYS far more rocks/stones/etc than you think there are, in a situation like yours and mine! :-O

    • bittster says:

      I have a secret escape plan for any extra rocks or whatever else sits in the garden after all the construction dust settles. It’s called the slope behind my neighbor’s house, and that’s where I throw any limbs that are too big, thorny prunings, or horribly unattractive shale or block bits. You barely notice my contributions vs the plastic trash and other crap that my neighbor throws back there. Ugh.
      Or I just bury them. This will never be a two feet of rock-free loam kind of garden 😉

  12. Chloris says:

    It’s nice to have a few rocks but there must be easier ways to get them.

    • bittster says:

      I like to remind myself that some people waste their days sitting around inside watching a tv or scrolling a phone screen. I like to remind them that there are plenty of rocks to move but they seem to agree with your mindset and agree it’s an awful lot of pointless work. I can’t even argue with that 😉

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