Things were slow to get started this year. The first order of business was to remove 12-15 more trees (I don’t remember the exact number). Some of the stumps didn’t get ground down because they were inside the loop and the grinder couldn’t get in there.

One of the other changes was the removal of a butterfly bush. It really did attract a lot of butterflies and it was fun to watch them, but it had gotten overgrown. This view was very different a few weeks ago when most of the trains couldn’t be seen because of the butterfly bush and the trees…

The stonework on the left in the picture above had been there since last year, but I couldn’t do anything else until the trees were removed. Over Mother’s Day weekend, Sui, Jason and I filled several raised beds in another part of the yard, then filled the new bed around the trains. 6 cubic yards of topsoil were moved in two days. Jason and Megan stomped around to compress the soil as we shoveled it in.

I think that’s a mungo pine “tree” and a heather of some sort on either side of the track.

For Father’s Day, Sui bought me a portable fold-up canopy so I could work during rainy days, get some relief from the sun on other days, etc. She’s found something of interest in the yard. Under the canopy is a new siding that was added. The big flowering bush in the background is a 12′ tall mountain laurel. They grow like weeks around here, and this year had a pretty good season for the flowers. They bloom every couple of years and the entire neighborhood has zillions of white flowers for a couple of weeks. Note the undisturbed soil in front of the mountain laurel, compared to what that area looked like 48 hours later in a couple pictures down. Father’s Day 2008 was the 10th year anniversary of my getting involved in garden railroading. In 1998 we were expecting our first child, Jason, and my HO layout had to be removed from the new nursery. I had been looking at garden RR magazines and talked about building a layout in the yard, so Sui bought me an Aristocraft starter kit as my first Father’s Day gift.

Here we are installing the new water garden. I got lazy and bought a pre-formed pond. I got even lazier and asked Jason to do a lot of digging for me. Megan was on root patrol to pull out roots as Jason or I hit them while digging.

In case anyone doubts that we actually run trains, here is a bit of switching on the new siding. Megan said “Hey Dad, I’m tired of watching you build stuff. Can we just run trains?” You can see a switch waiting for yet another siding to be hung off it. It has since been added, as you can see in the next photo, off to the left in the shadows.

My next big project was to finish “the wall” which encloses the area where we hope to eventually have a lawn, places to sit, etc. It took a couple of weeks to get all the bricks in place. The area inside (to the left) will be back-filled with soil once I get all the native plants removed. That’ll be on the 2009 construction log! I’ve moved over 4 tons of bricks this year with nothing more than a hand truck and my hands. I’ve worn out two pairs of gloves, and the third is about to be tossed into the trash.

At least the pond is looking nice! We have blooms and the fish come up to see us when we stand around. Actually, they’re hoping for food.