The Power of Water

Winter is only a week old and yet by this morning my gauge had measured nearly 8 inches of rain for the season. Following on the heels of a wet autumn, including a 2-day October deluge that dumped 7 inches in the Upstate and more than twice that amount in the Midlands, it’s safe to say we’re all praying for a respite.

We’re not the only ones hurting, though. Northern England has suffered devastating floods this past week and I’m heartsick for those who have suffered loss and damage.

Everyone knows how destructive a flood can be, but Tim and I discovered firsthand the power of water when a log pile (fashioned as a critter refuge when a 2014 torrent felled a tree) was moved more than 50 feet. Since the flood crested in the early morning before the sun rose, we didn’t see the heavy pile move, but were shocked to find it in a new location when we explored the riverbank a few days later.


In this October photo, the log pile can be seen in its original location with its head above flood waters. The normal course of the Reedy River is along the top of the photo, while the flood channel through our property is separated by the elevated riverbank. Our home sits well above this area, atop several steep terraces.


Other than making a quarter turn and moving downstream (left to right in the photo above), there is little difference in the position of the logs. Even the small braches piled on top of the critter refuge remain in place.

Unfortunately, my friend Chris Crowder, head gardener at Levens Hall, has seen this power at work in a more damaging way. In the past few weeks, the gardens at Levens have flooded three times, and the most recent was the worst ever.  Here’s a look at what Chris has experienced, along with a couple of comparison photos I took when I visited the garden in June.


The force of the water toppled the palisade wall and swamped the entire lower floor of Levens Hall.


In the greenhouses, flood waters came within a hair of bench tops.


The fountain garden during recent floods.


The same garden in June, with Chris (far right) leading a tour for my travel group.


The red border looking towards the ha-ha and fields beyond.


The red border in June, looking away from the ha-ha towards the center of the garden.

Upstate weather is clearing and getting colder as the week progresses, but the forecast for Cumbria and other counties of northern England is more rain.

Fingers crossed there will be blue skies for us all again soon.


A final look at Levens Hall, where the power of water has destroyed the surface of the car park. (All Levens photos courtesy of Chris Crowder.)



34 thoughts on “The Power of Water

  1. An Eye For Detail

    Oh how terrible to see. The rain, and grayness, seem never ending. My entire terrace was flooded, but only for less than an hour while we cleared some drains. The worst part of us was, with soaking wet clothes afterwards and the very humid weather, we don’t own a clothes dryer…so it took days for things to dry out! I think I see the sun trying to get through right now!

  2. Pauline

    I’m so glad that you are safe and dry and I hope it stays that way.
    Seeing Leven’s Hall with all the water is so distressing, we saw the wonderful garden a couple of years ago, I hope their famous topiary survives. The damage to the Hall itself will take a long time to repair, even drying the place out will take months, the National Trust is going to be very busy. Seeing the news each night is so depressing, it must be absolutely dreadful for all those who have had to leave their houses and possessions behind. A lot more rain is forecast for tonight and tomorrow, all in the same area, when will it all end?

    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Pauline–I have to say Chris is one of the most upbeat and resorceful people I know. He’s a terrific team leader and not the type to get flustered, so I know everything will be put right in time. But oh, how my heart hurts for the mess and trouble, and for those who have lost more than just time and effort.

  3. automatic gardener

    It seems bad weather has hit everywhere. Thankfully, my part of Texas missed the tornadoes even after being on “watch” for a day. Our fellow Texans to the north were not so lucky and had a heart-breaking Christmas.

    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Automatic Gardener–You are right, there seems to be weather troubles nearly everywhere in the past few weeks. I saw the coverage of the Texas tornadoes and can’t imagine anything worse.

  4. Martha Robinson

    Thank you for sharing that with us Marian. Reminder to keep all folks in our thoughts and best wishes for better times in 2016.

  5. Cathy

    I hope not too many homes suffer in your area Marian, and that your garden is also spared. I am currently in the UK and right now we are watching the news and forecast for further rainfall tonight in the north. Let’s hope the rain lets off soon.

    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Cathy–We are on watch for flash floods until Thursday morning. The October flood, especially in the Midlands (about 90 miles east of here), caused horrific damage. Northern England looks equally bad. I can’t believe the photos that have come out of York in the past couple days. I read York Minster is opening its doors for “some peace amongst the chaos.”

  6. rusty duck

    It does seem to be getting worse and I worry for the future. Climate change, whatever the cause, looks to be ever more a reality and what can we do against the power of nature?

  7. Frogend_dweller

    Shocking to see the difference between your pictures of Levens Hall and the recent flooded ones. Unfortunately storm Frank is just now hitting the north of England again. Fingers crossed that it won’t be so bad.

  8. fernwoodnursery

    The power of moving water! I have been in touch with my friends in Ireland…they too are experiencing drastic weather in the way of heavy rain and winds. So much damage! Goodness, it is troubling to see how quickly weather can dismantle years of hard work…..and even hardscapes!

  9. digwithdorris

    The sight of water where it is not meant to be is terrifying, the news of late is full of such tragic sights. For Levens Hall it must be soul destroying, Chris , I hope this weather moves off soon and allows the garden to dry out. Fingers crossed. We are all hoping.

  10. Marian St.Clair Post author

    Dorris–I’m sitting at my desk listening to the rain pouring down and wondering how in the world this keeps going on and on. There seems to be no end to it. I just hope eveyone stays safe, both here and in the UK, until the bad weather passes.

  11. FlowerAlley

    Those crossed fingers did not work Marian. NC is getting pounded right now. Lake Norman is full all ready. It’s so dark that our lights on sensors are on. The book Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver is echoing in my mind.

  12. langleyae

    Oh nooooo! Not the Car Park! Where is the pretty Chicken House? Are the chickens okay? Oh, I am sooo sad. We have been enjoying the feature article in the most recent English Garden magazine about Levens in winter, knowing we had seen it in person, and now to see these flood photos just leaves us heartsick. Sad sad sad 😦 Hoping for dry and early spring for them!

  13. Pingback: The Power of Water | A Merry Mischief

  14. susurrus

    Nearly missed this post so I’m glad I decided to spend a bit of time catching up. The before and after pictures from Levens tell a sad story. North West England is still getting rain, to a much lesser degree, but it won’t help their cleanup efforts.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s