Gardens were dug out, climbing roses pruned to within an inch of their lives to allow the side boundary fence to be taken down for access through the thankfully empty neighbouring block, fences, gates, paving, pots and plants needed dealing with. Everyone close was warned and asked to shut their doors and windows and not hang out washing for the day.
My anxiety levels rocketed as the garden was dismantled with me wearing the hats of planner, site manager, gardener, accounts person and the tea lady. Plants ten years old and more were sacrificed, others pruned to within an inch of their lives. Fences and gates lovingly painted only months ago were taken down, some damaged beyond repair.
The night before the excavator was due, I stood in the garden at dusk, looking at what we had done and instead of sadness at the destruction of years of hard work, I felt a feeling of space, boundaries coming down. An opening up of new possibilities - room for the new and a frisson of excitement for the possibilities of change.
It's a week on,there is paving to be relaid, gates and fences to be rebuilt. A massive pile of prunings, old irrigation and the carpet that was laid to kill the kikuyu grass 17 years ago are piled on the road verge. An unexpected couple of cubic metres of clay dug from the hole will be a bonus in the sandy garden soils and there is the buzz of planning new garden beds. There is relief that the destruction phase is over and rebuilding can take its time. The stress of the costs involved, dealing with various tradesmen, excavating power and phone lines, keeping the mess and confusion to manageable levels have faded. The fears and the uncertainty of dealing with what was, for me, a huge project have blossomed into a new confidence in my abilities. By asking questions, treating others with respect and trusting their judgement, taking care to keep the workers safe and fed, everything progressed smoothly and with good humour. Well done all of us!