Revealing (w)all

The North Garden wall restoration project had already begun but it was almost as if we couldn’t wait to get at the wall itself. Three members of Team Florabunda came in on a wet and wildly windy morning, were reluctant to break for tea, and stayed past lunch to take the climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris) off of the North Garden wall. I never thought we’d be able to do it in a day but as soon as we started to rip-tear, none of us could stop. (Never underestimate the enjoyment a gardener takes in destroying something – gardening may in fact be one of the only creative arts that allows for that impulse. Don’t we all kind of love to weed?)

Without the hydrangea, the wall looks a lot smaller, and a lot more precarious. It became very clear as we worked that the very hydrangea that must have contributed to the wall’s downfall was also helping to hold it up. The edge along the east side is severely bowed and another section by the steps had begun to separate – you can just see the light of day through it in the picture below (top right). (Click on pictures for larger view.)

But other things were revealed as well, such as the quartz rocks that young Augustine collected in her travels and asked the masons to insert (also visible in the stone steps picture above.) And it’s much easier now to see the supports for a bench under the star. Gail and I only learned of the bench’s existence when we visited the archives to look at old pictures a couple of weeks ago. When the North Garden was divided into parterres, the bench was in line with the bowling green and the low fountain at the edge of the Bosquet, and must have been removed when the garden was done over in borders.

We all hoped to find buried treasure as well and in a way we did. The wall itself is a marvel and it will be wonderful to see it restored. And in case you are shocked about the demise of the hydrangea – that filled the truck just about to its limits – Fred and Dan took cuttings earlier in the year. It lives and will be replanted.

Do you enjoy giving in to the destructive impulse too? Cathartic, isn’t it?