The Arch

Which I built in a morning (for $27) over thirty years ago is no more. Back on 08/06/2014 I posted this about it: Invisible worlds: the archway: Straight outside our front door we have this archway: you’ve probably seen it before in family photos, as it makes an interesting backdrop. Around here we have often been too busy to notice things, but as we are slowing down we maybe have more time for noticing and less for doing…anyway, we were sitting in front of it the other night watching the pigeons fly…And hearing them too: since a have had my new Siemens waterproof hearing aids I can once again hear the wondrous ‘whoosh’ of pigeon flight…we noticed a fair sized flock of starlings circling as well. It was just on dusk. We were wondering what they were doing.

Well, Della put the pigeon food in the loft and opened the trap. The pigeons dropped into the loft like stones. A chill was creeping in, so we turned to go in the front door. Suddenly, literally in the blink of an eye I guess, 100 starlings fell out of the sky into that archway. They must have done this several thousand times since I built it many years ago, but we had never caught them doing so. They are quiet neighbours, obviously up at sunrise and off about their business, returning swiftly at dusk, and making no outward noise to advertise their presence. I am sure the potato vine has benefited enormously from their residence over the years though. So much in nature is virtually invisible to us even if it is right before our eyes.

The arch was very simple to construct, and we do need more of them, one leading down to the shed, for example – a job for another day…I marked it out, drove 3’ lengths of ¾ gal water pipe into the ground vertically to half their length, then slipped the required length of concrete reo inside them (to form a hoop), and lengths of 1 ½ inch poly water pipe over them, Surprisingly each arch is strong enough like this for a large person like me to swing on. Having made a row of them, we simply clad them with light gal weldmesh (attached with cable ties), planted the potato vine/s, and voila! You used to be able to walk up pavers through it from the ‘guest’ parking below to our front door, but over the years Della has so cluttered it with interesting decorations this may no longer be possible…

Della had this to say about its demise: Underneath the Arches: Some Garden Nostalgia.
‘After 28 years of being front and centre of our house, our old archway has been demolished, to be replaced by a new one. Steve built the original out of gal water pipe and concrete reo covered with poly pipe, and I enthusiastically planted it out with climbing roses each end and potato vine between.

The accompanying pictures, beginning with a 3-year-old Merrin cradling her kitten “Blackie”, document the aging of that archway. Within 2 years, when the 3 children are pictured on their first day of the school year, the sky has been all but obliterated, and from then on, despite my constant battle with shears and secateurs, the potato vine took over, smothering the roses and creating a dense, tunneled thicket that became home to dozens of starlings.

A couple of years ago, the weight of all that vine began crushing the structure, so that it was impossible to even crawl through it. Something had to be done, so we added it to the jobs planned for our recent excavation work.

This was the famous ‘Snow Day’ Aug 10th 2005:

Its removal was the work of less than 5 minutes: one large munch, a roll of the jaws and a lift up and out. And while the excavator was here, Steve arranged to have it dig in the supports for the replacement walkway which he later finished with some carpentry.


So: the sky has returned, I have 10 new climbing roses ready for planting, and I have learned an important lesson about avoiding potato vine! The old pavers will need replacing, but I will get the garden cleaned up and replanted first.

Meanwhile, Merrin and a 3-year-old Milo (complete with a puppy, this time) posed today for a photo of our archway for the next generation.


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