A left-over from the 1980's fashionable stone look alike wall, one of those trends, people used to make a shelf at the sides of fireplaces supported by a useless blocked in wall.
The space underneath was totally unusable, mine was ripped out and replaced with the same wood top, and the space underneath is now useable with a pair of home made oak doors attached to a simple framework of pieces of wood screwed to the walls.
The stone blocks have been used to support a built up area under my Horse Chestnut tree. It was simple to do, the blocks laid first in a semi circle, no base required as the shape holds it up without extra support. Some cement to hold them together, and presto, a cheap way of making a built up bed.
To fill it I had a lot of soil and leaves dug from a drain which runs along the front of the property and had been dumped around the base of the tree, on top of piles of leaves which were pushed there until the compost bins were made.
I grow ferns, hellebores, cyclamen, crocus, tiarella and pulmonaria there, which suits all of those plants with the gritty soil and leaves. When the tree is dormant and bare of leaves in the winter the plants get the required water, and more dryness in the summer with shade.
I have been thinking I would like to make it look more natural but hadn't come up with an idea until I saw bonitin's concreted recyled stones and bricks which are moss covered. Now all I need to do is cover it with rough cement and rub in the dirt! I will have an ancient wall!
I had always thought I wanted stones on top, I had ideas of buying some large decorative stones but they are expensive, and I didn't think they would suit the wall, or the wall wouldn't suit the stones! I have quite a few small stones I have dug from the garden but I do use the top of the wall to stand a lot of pots on, so I have changed my mind on that.
A seat is also an idea I had, if I can find some suitable wood I may do that in one spot as I often feel like I could do to sit for a while.
I noted the mention of putting soil around a tree trunk, my tree was quite depleted of soil around it, and the mixture is shallow with plenty of leaves. Some tree roots have grown up into it so it probably appreciated the top up.
I have a photo of it in in full early spring before most things have grown, but you get the pic...
Great idea, Wallaby, to recycle the stone blocks from your fireplace in using it to built up a raised area around your chestnut tree.
This is also an example of a situation where more than just one goal is attained. You've got now a more beautiful and useful fireplace than before,
You've got a raised bed where the new plants as well as the tree feel happy and you don't have the trouble, and perhaps the costs, of getting rid of the
stone blocks and with some extra you can have a nice sitting and resting place under the tree.
My suggestion is to try to make the wall a little thicker, it will get thicker anyway if you put a layer of cement over.
If you have some old tiles somewhere you want to get rid off, you could also use them to create a sitting place on top of your wall.
they can be perfectly integrated in the wall if your first put some fresh cement on top, then push in the tile or tiles (depending how big you want the sitting place), then cover up the tile and the joints all over with more cement, so they form a unity. It would be nice if you let the tile(s) stick over the edge of the wall a little for the aesthetics. If you have many little stones and bits of pieces you want to get rid off you can push them in the cement,
then less cement is needed.
Now that is an idea, I do have a good pile of stones which I can put in the cement. A thicker wall would look better, and my neighbour has some old thick quarry tiles he got from a job he did, hmmm, I don't think he has a use for them! Thanks bonitin!
Perhaps, you could also leave some holes here and there on the side of the wall that can be a growing place for all kinds of little plants, that like to grow in these conditions, but then the base of the wall is better a little thicker than the top, for the rain to have better access to them.
You will get one pciture of the wall when you click on Island Garden. You will know it because it is purple. I will take pictures this spring when everything starts greening up. But this is a 360 degree view of different parts of the garden.
darius, what sort of plants do you grow in your wall?
pepper, I clicked on the link, twice, and got the internet shut down twice. The picture show at the top was loading first time, second time I let it load, third time I realised it was the Island Garden anyway! But I didn't see a purple wall! Still, they are very interesting gardens.
I tried the link again, looked at the one you said and I still can't see the wall, there's a path way between the lakes with plants at the edges.
I went back again to look at the second link again, there was a short wall there or somewhere, I didn't allow the pic show to load, clicked on the next link and got shut down again!
darius I can imagine Thyme would be tempting to rub for the fragrance, it likes sun though. I have ferns that may like to live there, not sure what else would in the shade. I wonder if there is a herb that smells nice and likes shade, which will also stand dryness, tall order!
Think that's a tall order? I have a spot where it gets no rain and is in shade. It is under an overhang at the back of the house and there are walnut trees, oak trees, and another big tree providing shade there. I want to plant something there but don't know of anything that can handle that tall order.
I think that there isn't a plant that can survive without any water at all!
Even the toughest among the drought and shadow tolerant plants will give up at the end, unless you help them in providing them with water once in a while. In fact no life is sustainable without water. (It is the element where all life originates from!).
You could think of an alternative to use that space, perhaps creating a nice sitting place, looking at your garden, even when it's raining, because you stay dry!