The Wild Garden would be nothing without its core body of volunteer workers who meet in the Avenue each Tuesday morning, come rain or shine, to beaver away on a number of tasks throughout the year. Tasks which include the wearing of waders to reach parts of the canals unreachable from each bank or even sitting in a little inflatable boat to take out rubbish from the centre of the ponds to cutting back over grown shrubbery, laying and raking new bark paths, planting and maintaining the trees, clearing weed from the waterways, not to mention the splitting of logs from the fallen trees.
The most recent project has been to replace the coping stones on the Victorian sluice at the bottom of the canal. The estimate for the works to replace the coping stones was in the region of £1600 – £2000; this project needs funding to make it happen, as do any of the other significant projects in the Wild Garden hence the many fundraising projects which are undertaken during the year to raise funds for the essential upkeep of our lovely Wild Garden.
|Pretty Dam Good
It has been a (long proposed) job to repair or replace the coping stones on the top of the stone dam that ends the canal ponds. They were very badly worn and more than a little dangerous, some were loose. After the creation of a template the stone needed to be sourced.
The first prices for the stone were frighteningly high, and the project looked to be unaffordable. However, after a site visit, a small company in Fairford, confirmed they could supply York Stone, (much harder and more durable than the original Cotswold stone) at a cost considered reasonable. After a visit to their yard 4” thick York stone was chosen, the template for 15 stones was left for them to cut to the pattern.
Despite saying how busy the company was, to our surprise, about 3 weeks later the 30 kg stones arrived on a pallet. A bit of a shock that they were here so soon, and just how heavy the individual stones were was a challenge to our band of, rather less than young, workers.
A rapid assessment was made of what was needed in the way of tools and equipment, and most was either borrowed, thanks to Robin Perry, scrounged or reluctantly bought and hired.
Work started; drain the bottom canal, clear away the damaged copings, get the staging to work off in the water, and prepare a base of concrete to lay the new copings on. Having done a couple of hours preparation and with supplies on site we started. The first Tuesday went well and the base was laid and left to set, on Wednesday the real job of laying the copings went really well; the first 9 copings were in place. FANTASTIC!!!
The second side was more difficult, we seemed to need more stones than we had, but we had always hoped that we could recycle some of the existing stones, even if they had to be cut to fit. But the existing copings were thicker than the new ones; with the cut out base already laid, could it work? Only one way to find out, lay the stones and figure it out as we go along.
With a bit of pointing and relaying the sleeper bridge over the outflow from the sluice and tidying up we are very pleased with the result and hope it will be in place for as long as the original Victorian one has been.
It has been very hard work and a great team effort by the Wild Garden Tuesday Team, some of whom have done jobs they would never have imagined would occupy their retirement, I hope they all share as great a sense of achievement as I do.