-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

choosing bricks for the garden wall columns

We're having a big push on with work in a few weeks when Dave visits.  Dave and Dad are planning to focus on the house framing for the cottage extension.  Pete (my brother, who is a bricklayer by trade) is going to finally make a start on the vegie garden wall, and for that he needs bricks.

As this wall is such an important a part of my dream - basically I want a traditional English old walled garden that looks like it has been there 150 years - choosing the bricks was not straightforward.  Especially since I'd already compromised once.

To recap: originally I wanted a solid brick wall, but quickly learned a tall thick wall for a 25m x 40m enclosure was going to break the bank.  So now we are just having brick columns which we can then join up in between.  To begin the fill in will likely be a mix of wire or cheap fencing sheets, then as time permits  we can thicken it up adobe/cob style... perhaps even stick on cobbles and small rocks to finish like on this old wall we spotted in Cambridgeshire:

Stone wall in Cambridge

So, back to the bricks.  Originally the plan had been to use secondhand bricks to build the columns, because they'd be cheaper and also would have the right finish (ie: old and bashed about a bit).  That wasn't viable unfortunately as the only two places we found that could deliver them didn't have any in stock, and Pete wasn't willing to risk ordering sight unseen.  Apparently there is a big variation in quality - some are harder, 'first fired' vs others are more porous and 'underfired' so you have to inspect.

So then we started looking at new bricks.  Mum and Pete went to meet a friendly Ballarat brick supplier and sent me photos of their major lines.  Which was when I nearly gave up on the whole concept in despair.  Some of the bricks were OK colours, but they had nothing like the textured feel of the old English bricks I'd fallen in love with.

Luckily, Pete came to the rescue with his suggestion of Daniel Robertson bricks.  They're a bit more expensive, but justifiably so given they have a far nicer blend of tones and have captured that 'old' look even though they're new.  Just consider:

Elmhurst Red                                 Daniel Robertson blend 153
Elmhurst Red brick  Daniel Robertson Blend 153 brick

To cut a long story short, we've splurged for the Daniel Robertson blend 153 for all the visible bits of the columns... and saved a little money by getting the Elmhurst Red for the hidden parts.  Now we're reliant on Pete's bricklaying skills to get the right effect - but I have faith.  He's apparently been working on top-end heritage projects in his day job for a couple of years now so he's had lots of practice.  :-)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

We have a bridge!!

I am so excited that I don't care I'm making myself late to work to post this.  Dad just emailed on his return from a working trip to Amherst.  He decided to surprise us by putting in the bridge to the "dam shed"!

dam with bridge and house behind

Eventually this building will be a (quite fancy) garden shed/retreat.  But my dream is that it will be finished enough by the time I next visit so I can camp in it.  The big hiccup to that had been that after the heavy rains, we'd had no way to access it to finish the building work... now, thanks to the miracles of Dad, we do!!

dam with bridge

Dad describes it thus: "It is a full 900mm wide and four panels long.  It is supported on steel pegs driven into the soil under the dam.  It is very sturdy.  It is approx a foot above the water. I could push a loaded wheelbarrow over it if needed. I used all the surplus fence panels from Toora to make an everlasting and safe bridge rather than a flimsy affair that needed lots of care to keep it safe.  I hope you like it as it was a bit of an ordeal to build"

I love it!  I especially love the curve - I hadn't even though about having it curved, had just presumed it would be built straight as that would be simplest, but having it curved gives is such a lovely shape, it's perfect.  The only thing we will do to give it a finishing touch is - eventually - put some decking over it, to make it look like a mini-pier / boardwalk.  But that's a minor detail - already it is functional and beautiful.  :-)