The paved “terrace” (Estate Agent’s description) that runs along the back of the house is significantly raised due to the gently sloping nature of the site. This means we have a Ha Ha where the patio abruptly ends and drops down to the grass level. The Ha Ha gives us uninterrupted views of the garden estate while sitting on the terrace drinking tea and eating scones, without the worry of livestock or the lower classes venturing from the grass and onto the aforementioned dais.
Unfortunately, the edge of the patio has several loose slabs only ready to flip you onto the garden should you step on them and the whole length of the wall is covered in ivy-gone-rampant.
Like all ivies, it must have stared with a single, little plant in a 9cm pot and lots of good intentions, however, left unchecked for a few years and you end up having to deal with this:
At this point I had already started pulling some of the ivy away and also cut it from the edge of the Ha Ha so that it didn’t start rooting between the paving slabs. It also allowed me to see just how bad the ivy was. It had rooted and layered into every available little crevice so it was one plant and hundreds of plants at the same time. There was nothing for it but to start yanking it out by hand, starting from one end and working along the whole length of the Ha Ha.
As the ivy reluctantly came away, it revealed a lovely layered stone wall, the cracks of which at one time must have been planted with all manner of rockery plants, some of which have just about managed to survive the ivy invasion. Soil must have been piled against the bottom – probably for more planting – but this only served as a place to layer more ivy and root invasive carex grass and other weeds.
Removing the ivy from the Ha Ha reveals a complicated history of patio construction. We believe the visible patio is actually Patio version 2 with Patio version 1 underneath, supporting v2. If you lift up the top layer of slabs you expose…another layer of slabs, which must have been the original patio. This explains why the layered stone wall doesn’t come right up to the current patio level, but stops short of the top, with the rest filled in with unsightly cement, topped with a meandering line of block paving to support the edge slabs. We’ll never know quite why it wasn’t finished off properly, or why it was decided to use a method of supporting the current patio that is actually against current building regulations. We’ll never know why a lot of things in the house and garden are the way they are and what ever possessed it to be done that way. It’s just one of those things.
Dodgy DIY aside, restoring the patio is one of those “Big Jobs” and it’s likely to be some time before it happens, but at the moment, with the ivy removed from the Ha Ha and the soil and weeds removed from the base of the wall, it might be possible to restore the rockery plants that this was obviously built for and restore the original glory of the Ha Ha.
After alternating sunny spells and thundery showers to gradually clean the stones and wash away excess soil, the Ha Ha is finally back to a reasonable condition, reasonable enough for me to look online for rockery plants, now that I’ve finally finished pulling all those ivy roots out with the electrical pliers.