Thursday, September 27
In the past 3 years, I have turned up quite a few rocks while planting shrubs and perennials. Most of the stones in the backyard are fist-sized, flattish, and fairly smooth. Here you see a collection of the ones that I turned up last night as I began to excavate what will soon be my grotto garden. The 4x4 grape arbor post and the quart-sized fern pot give you an idea of their actual size.
They look fairly innocuous, but don't let that fool you. Even a half-dollar-sized rock in the wrong place can bring a manual posthole digger to a screeching halt. (They are, however, ultimately no match for my garden trowel, a few choice words, and Brian's stubbornness.)
In addition to the numerous rocks discovered along the way, Brian found a few extra special surprises as he dug all of the postholes for the new fence. Discovering this brick was particularly vexing, as we didn't know whether it was part of an old drainage system... or, worse, a mortared cobblestone driveway buried 6 inches beneath the new cement one. Lucky for us, it proved to be a single specimen and only took an extra 20 minutes to remove.
The pottery shard next to it is marked like a fine ceramic plate, and is one of many such pieces of glasses and dinnerware that have been discovered here. I lost track of the glass chunks somewhere around 6 dozen, and I only keep the pieces that are pretty colors--like the light blue opaque glass in a photo below. When I find a new one, though, I amuse myself by making up stories in my head about the clumsy residents who preceded me and how this particular shard came to be.
Among my "fun finds" have been the front bumper of an old toy car, the torso of a 6o's action figure, and a 4-color pen of the type I coveted in junior high. (You could write in red, blue, black or--most importantly--in green. That was almost as cool as writing in purple.) I have also discovered overwhelming evidence, collected over the course of at least two years, that an old coal pile was once sited about 6ft off the northwest corner of my garage. That would have been a long, cold walk from the house in the days before PolarFleece!
And I have no idea how this huge chunk of marble, carved with two straight channels, could possibly have come to rest almost 8 inches underground in my backyard. You can see how large it is by comparing it to the size of the toy car bumper shown above.
I really wish I knew its story. These row houses were originally built for blue-collar company workers, not for people who had need of--or means for--marble facades. Mine is no bigger or smaller than others on the street, and can see no reason why it might be singled out for pricey upgrades.
But I saved the best for last. By far my favorite find is of far more modest origins: An old pry bar!
I discovered the straight end of it as I was planting a cherry tree last spring... and didn't realize what I had found until I dug it out enough to unearth the crooked end.
In a fitting twist of fate, this pry bar came in very handy as Brian coaxed the old brick out of the last posthole this weekend. The brick was a little too big for my trowel to handle, but the pry bar made short work of it--and helped us to ensure that there were no other surprises waiting beside or below it!
But I bet you don't have to be an urban gardener to make interesting finds "below grade" in your little domain. Anyone else have good stories of exciting, scary, or otherwise interesting finds they've made while digging in the dirt? I'll be back to read them... as soon as I dig a few more holes. I'm aiming to figure out just exactly where the clumsy spinster buried all of her grandma's money... ;)