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Garden design only limited by imagination


PROGRESS: Taking a walk down Lombard St.

After a lifetime of forgetting how hot the summer is, this year I tried to remember and to plan accordingly. Dead and wilted punnets of plants waiting for me in the shade attests to a small aberration, but generally, late last year I planted and mulched ready for the heat.

There are basically two periods of the day where a bit of gardening is possible. Early morning, a time that competes with my yoga class, and evening, which is when, at the cottages, 

the guests arrive. 

Gardening in the summer is generally, for me, a frustrating time. I am a happy woman indeed if the guests have arrived early and are settled and I can disappear for an hour or two to The Block to battle with the weeds.

Maintenance, the primary summer activity, is never as exciting as creating so imagine my delight when Box, who has a few weeks off work, announced he was ready to begin the paving of my version of Lombard St. 

“So,” said Box, “how do you want it?” 

“Well,” I replied carefully “what are my limitations?” 

“Oh none really,” said Box magnanimously. “You can pretty much have whatever you like. Draw me a diagram and we will go from there.”

My imagination has had quite a while to dream up ideas for this path. The real Lombard St in San Francisco is paved with bricks but early on in the planning Box pointed out the cost and the possibility of them becoming slippery and I removed them as an option. The paths at The Giants House in Akaroa had further fired the array of possibilities and a modified number of bricks had been reintroduced into the equation. 

I drew the plan. It involved bricks, smooth river stones, some mosaic tiles and, as the primary element, the leftover small rocks from the rock walls. 

“Maybe,” said Box “you could enlarge this section of the drawing so I can clearly see what is involved” and drew in a couple of lines. Presented with the enlargement he said nothing but made a hmmm sound that I have heard before. This coupled with a few minutes of thoughtful silence never bodes well. 

“So,” he said “you have the bricks?”


“Do you want to buy that many bricks?”

“Not really.”

“Ok, let’s cut out the bricks.” 

With bricks out there was nothing to divide the rocks from the river stones, so they were eliminated as well. 

“Have you got the tiles for the mosaic bits? And, where would they fit in?” 

With the other things gone the tiles would look pretty naff I thought so I said that there was no longer any need for the tiles. 

“Right,” said Box happily. “Just the leftover rocks then set into concrete.” 

A moments pause. 

“What colour would you like the concrete?” 

“What colour do you think?” I replied. 

“The lighter the better,” said Box “so when we are old and tottering down the path we can see it at night.” 

A thought occurred to me. In Greece the concrete between pavers is limewashed white. Down the side of our Lombard St are olive trees, the dissecting gardens are all geraniums. All very Greek. 

“Right,” I said, my disappointment with the original plan vanishing. “We will paint the concrete white.” 

So it has begun. The photo shows the first section completed and now the second is as well and I love it. The garden is advancing during the summer after all.

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