Garden Renovation: Clearing the Jungle

For someone interested in live steam and running trains in the garden, I have one huge hurdle to overcome.

I am not a gardener.

I’m lousy at gardening – and what’s more, I hate doing the work.

I blame my mother for this, in part: She was an amazing gardener and whenever I’ve attempted anything involving plants and soil, I always end up feeling inadequate. She had two green tubs: Mine are black. In addition, my mother often recruited me to help doing the donkey work in the garden – the digging of new beds or the end of season clean-up. It’s no wonder I prefer to work indoors.

Still… one does not need a garden railway in order to be a live steam enthusiast. As I have learned through my friends, it’s possible to enjoy this very social hobby with the aid of a temporary/portable steaming track:

Doors Open 2008 - Water Boilers Display Track

Setting up such a track in the back yard on nice days would be, well, nice! If only I had the space. Well, it turns out I do – or I will…

Given that we live in the downtown of one of the most expensive cities in Canada, my wife and I have a huge amount of under-used space on our property: Namely, a back garden that’s approximately 20 x 40 feet (with an extension of roughly 10 x 10 along one side of the house). Neither of us are gardeners, so over the years it has become a bit (well, a lot) of a jungle:

Back yard - September 28 2018
(The garden, as it appeared at the end of September)

Having lived with this suboptimal situation for several years, we decided this year to do something about it. So, we talked to the designer/builder who has been helping us renovate our house. He devised a plan and has brought in one of his landscaping contacts to help make it happen. It’s in progress now, and should be done before the snow flies.

The plan includes a large patio – big enough for parties, but also big enough to swing sheet goods over a table saw or host a portable steaming track. At some point next year, my goal is to build such a track – and find room to store it in the garage.

But that’s in the future. Right now, the work has started and I couldn’t be more excited. Here are some progress shots of the clearing of the jungle:

Garden - October 3
(October 3: The landscapers made short work of the greenery)

Garden - October 5
(October 5: The crew removed a lot of stone, and is now down to the soil and rubble)

Garden - October 9
(October 9: We decided to do this work, in part, because a storm blew down portions of the fence along the north side of our garden. The crew has replaced rotted posts and re-hung panels. The baggage wagon makes a handy, mobile storage space. There’s a spot for it in the new garden, of course!)

There’s a lot more to do – and I’ll share more progress photos in future posts. I’ve also created a category for all posts related to this project – Garden Renovation – for those who want to follow along.

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