30 minutes warning & The Big Dig

So, here’s the problem…

Several weeks ago, after the snow had melted I noticed a water leak at the well head. See the rust coated soil? There was a steady, but thankfully very light constant trickle but obviously it must be repaired. The company that works on wells sent out a nice man who shook his head and said “This is going to be expensive!” My first question was “How much of the garden am I going to lose?” His response was another shake of the head, “Well, we’ll bring out our mini, but it will go from here to here,” he said as he paced off an area that was approximately one-third of the Deck Garden, “and then we’ll need space to pile the dirt. The fittings are going to be pricey because you have inch and a quarter copper. No one uses inch and a quarter copper anymore. And the price of fittings has tripled since last fall, if I can even find the ones we need. It may take a while. I’ll get back to you.”

I fussed and stewed and tried to face the inevitable. I probably should have started digging and potting then, but the weather was lousy and there were other higher priority tasks. Who knew when he would locate the needed fittings? And the crocuses were so beautiful; the daffodils were budding, but many of the other plants had not pushed through the soil to enable me to locate them. So, I procrastinated.

This morning I was enjoying my second cup of tea and making out the job list for the day. Other than being very windy, it was finally going to be warm and the soil had thawed, the forecast was decent (above freezing!) There were three days of tasks on the list that I hoped to accomplish in one day. And then David meandered in and said, “Oh, the well guys will be here in 30 minutes to start digging.” “What!?!” I screeched, spilling my tea across the clipboard. “I thought he said he’d give me a couple of days warning!” I cried, pulling on my boots and grabbing a hat as I ran out the door. I grabbed a couple of plastic tablecloths and a shovel and began to dig. And dig.

Just digging as fast as I can!!!”
More, more and more! Gotta save as much as possible!

The truck and trailer with what definitely to me did not look like a “mini” machine pulled into the driveway. I didn’t have time to get another tablecloth, so I frantically just dug and piled plants to the side.

Just piling them aside ahead of the machine…

Finally, as the machine came rumbling across the lawn, I had to stop. I was out of breath, my back and knees were beginning to plead for mercy. I stood at the sidewalk and snapped this photo, hoping I’d judged the area correctly, and asking the plants that still remained for forgiveness. Daylilies, phlox, irises, shasta daisies, and lots of plants that had not yet emerged went under the tracks but I just couldn’t save them all.

Out of time…but the most treasured things are moved.

Ready or not, here he comes!

I couldn’t watch. Escaping to the potager, I planted peas and shallots, asters and lisianthus and tried to ignore the sounds of destruction. A bit later, the men called me to come back up to turn off the power to the pump so I snapped this photo, which shows the beginning of the real digging after they’d located the wiring. When the hole was big enough, I swore they were burying an elephant.

The initial beginnings…

I retreated to the potager for the duration. Only when they had reloaded the “mini” and vacated entirely did I venture up to survey the scene.

Actually not as bad as I expected…

Here’s the results. The leak is repaired. The soil has been returned to “level” sort of, but I know it is highly compacted now. I think some of the squished plants will recover, but I doubt that some that are now buried will return. However, I can now begin replanting. It will be interesting to see what colors come up where, because I did not have time to label anything I dug and it’s high unlikely they will end up in their original location, except for the rose bushes and hyacinths, and the eremurus. I wonder if the tritoma will be tough enough to return, and if all those bulbs will resent being dug. Time will tell!


About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
This entry was posted in Garden lessons, spring bulbs, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to 30 minutes warning & The Big Dig

  1. jorjagrael says:

    Oh, wow! I would have freaked. And probably given someone a tongue lashing for not giving me more of a heads-up! Glad you could save some of them. Just think of the surprises in store when everything starts blooming again 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. bcparkison says:

    Bless your heart …but …this too shall end and the “new” bed will be beautiful. You always rise to the situation at hand.


  3. Jo+Shafer says:

    I KNOW what you went through! First of all, those “repairmen” NEVER give much warning, if any; they just show up. On THEIR schedule. Second, they NEVER have any regard for the garden. They just trump on their own terms. That occurred in my herb garden with the house painters three years ago. The climbing roses only now are recovering. I think they’ll climb again this summer. As for some of my hard-to-find herbs — GONE.


    • carolee says:

      Oh, what hard to find herbs? Maybe I have some of them? The fellows were actually very nice and even helped dig a few more clumps, but they were on a schedule, with the “boss” to show up at a given time so they couldn’t dilly dally…


  4. Su says:

    Oh. My… Sending hugs. What a day you’ve had. On top of your planned list, now you have to replant everything you dug. I’m crossing my fingers that it all survives and thrives. Redesign happening!


    • carolee says:

      Not much redesign happened…it was a case of “get it back in the ground before it snows and the temperature drops!” I did eliminate a couple of big clumps of daylilies that I’d been intending to divide and more anyway. Divided some daffodils that needed it and spread those out. So many irises have disappeared. I found a few when digging and they were about 6″ under heavily compacted clay so I’m wondering how many may surface eventually. It will be interesting to watch what happens.


  5. covenantfarmblog says:

    Honestly, just reading this makes me cry! I’m glad you were able to save some of the plants. Ugh…..no one but me is allowed to walk in my gardens….the compacting of soil….Well, hopefully the end result will be a delight!


    • carolee says:

      No one but me usually walks IN the gardens either. I suspect the “end result” is going to take more time and new plants than it appears right now…


  6. Going Batty in Wales says:

    Hugs from me too. That garden is your baby and any injury to it hurts you too. Well done for rescuing what you did. No doubt in a year or two there will be no sign that anything eve happened there. The trauma of the bill may last longer 😦


    • carolee says:

      You are so right! Experience says the garden will heal, with the addition of new plants, etc. and Mother Nature adding her touches here and there. Patience is required…Haven’t seen the bill yet. That may be another shock!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. J says:

    Oh gosh how stressful! I would have absolutelty freaked out!!well done for saving the ones you did – I’m not sure I’d have had the presence of mind at such short notice!


    • carolee says:

      Not sure how many are actually “saved”. They look pretty dismal today under a heavy frost and 20 degrees. I think with the heavy clods, the soil didn’t fall around the roots so there are too many air pockets and they are getting damage from the freezing temps…time will tell.


  8. Peg says:

    OMG, what a trauma for a gardener, to have your beloved plants squished under the treads of a “mini”. At least you were able to save some. And now your leak is fixed so you can put that behind you and move on.


  9. Amy Rich says:

    Oh no! Having had my garden invaded by digging machines as part of EPA soil remediation, I know similar pain, though at least I had much more warning. Hugs to you.


    • carolee says:

      I actually thought of you as I was digging and replanting, and feeling grateful that it was only part of one garden, and not a larger area like yours! And, it would have been worse in mid-to late summer, when there were many, many more plants and the perennials had reached full-size! Definitely could have been worse!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: Replanted…whew! | herbalblessingsblog

  11. J.Q. Rose says:

    What a job! I bet you’ll be surprised with a beautiful view from your deck, and maybe even more so than the original garden. And, you now have a reliable well. Fingers crossed, it will turn out better than ever!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s