9 Sep 2012

At A Crossroads

DSC_0006Have you ever done something knowing full well that there might come a day when you, for one reason or another, regret it? This has been a part of my life for the past fifteen years! See, I took the liberty of cleaning out the long and narrow space between mine and the neighbor to my right houses. I hauled out the crap – the railway ties, the cinder blocks, the branches from trees. It was I who amended the soil with load after load of composted pine mulch. It was I who planted hundreds of plants, totaling thousands of dollars! Of course I did this of my own accord and volition. I also planted a narrow border that runs the length of the front half of their house. I wanted to beautify an otherwise ‘dead’ zone [between the houses, cast in next to eternal shade] and cover an otherwise bleak foundation. It wasn’t that I was hoping to pilfer more property. The thing was, they never noticed or paid any of it any mind until last week….. when they put their house up for sale.

DSC_0037The letter informed me that they were selling their property and said they would like to remove all plant materials from between the houses. My heart sank! Hundreds of plants. Literally! I was angry, frustrated, confused. The property line would run down the centre of the already narrow space. At worst, I would happily remove the plant material from their side of the space, but my side, not without a fight!

Of course, I was letting my emotions get the better of me. I tried my best to collect my senses and called the number that was enclosed with the letter. What could I possibly say? I was sideswiped yet again when a warm, friendly voice explained that she’d drafted the letter only on the advisement of the realtor. She herself saw nothing wrong with the border against the house. We both commiserated on the fact that little if nothing seemed to want to grow in the space between the houses before I amended the soil and introduced my shade loving beauties. She totally understood why I would want to leave it as it is, but, she also stressed that after a year of hardship for she and her husband, they wanted to sell the property and move on. Where did this leave the gardens? We agreed that I would not move anything just yet. If the potential new owners [this saying that the house actually sells] are unhappy with the plantings, or if they wish to create an access between the houses to their back yard, they need only give me a reasonable amount of time and I will remove all plant material that falls on their side of the property line. If it sells during the winter, I will comply to this agreement as soon as I am able to dig.

I know some of the plant materials could be moved to the other side of the house, but having neighbors on both sides, it could potentially turn into a repeat performance. I curse myself for not having thought of this when I created the gardens, conscientious of the fact that I was impinging on property that while derelict and unused, did not belong to me. I can only hope that the new neighbors will be appreciative of the green initiative that I have taken, and will allow for the gardens [I will happily share them!] to remain. In the meantime, I am slowly transplanting some of the more prized possessions – Acer campestre ‘Carnival’, the Asian species of Arisaema, the Polygonatum, Disporum and Aconitum species – into the Rare and Unusual Border where I know they will be safe and out of harms way if and when the dismantling occurs. Fingers crossed that this story has a happy green ending! In my next life I will build a fortress around my precious gardens. Better yet, my property will be 1000 acres of shaded bliss!



Marie said...

If you step back and take the longer view, 15 years is in fact quite a long time. My gardens are exactly 15 years old this year. In the city, it was unusual for neighbours to stay at the same address for longer than 5 years. FIVE!

I'm not saying it isn't heart breaking though. You know, you have friends who will help you out should you need a camping spot for plants until longer term solutions are found.

It takes time to sell a house...and there are times when it is unreasonable to make plant demands. (in winter!) I think by next spring you will have had a chance to consider several options.
Gardening is a process. This is part of the process my friend!


Well, I'm keeping my fingers crossed too. Hopefully plant lovers will move in and be thrilled with your little oasis.

danger garden said...

Oh thank god she was reasonable when you talked to her! And hopefully your new neighbors will love what you've created and treasure it.

There is a house in our neighborhood that used to be completely obstructed by plants, it was gorgeous! On a very busy street I imagine they acted as a wonderful noise barrier too. Well the elderly lady who lived there must have died as one day the chain saws were cutting down the trees and shrubs and someone was hacking back the perennials. Now there are a few tiny big box store specials planted in a row 5 ft apart and yards and yards of bark dust with a big old for sale sign stuck in it. This makes me so sad! All of those beautiful plants lovingly cared for and poof! Gone. Who's to say that the house wouldn't have sold faster left as was? Some stupid realtor advising what was best no doubt.

Barry Parker said...

Dear Barry,

This is outrageous, cruel and thoughtless! However you shouldn't underestimate your own power, you have a huge online following and your own radio show; name names! I for one would be very happy to call the brokerage company that employs this this short-sighted realtor. Also your neighbour should be encouraged to look for someone else to handle her sale.

outlawgardener said...

I'm sorry Barry! This is terrible. There are two types of people; those who love plants and bad. Hopefully your new neighbors will fall into the former category.

Barry said...

[A message sent via email from Deborah@ Kilbourne Grove}


I am so, so sorry about your dilemma. I only found out about it when Barry Parker called me last night. As you know, I have no internet, and only take myself, (and my computer) down to the library, once a week or so, and check my e-mails, write a post, and read a blog or two. So I was flabbergasted when Barry told me. What horrible, horrible news. I feel for you, hopefully when it finally sells, the new neighbours will love your kids and want them to remain. If you need any place to keep them, you know I have a large property here, I would be more and happy to shelter them while you search for another solution.
I have my fingers (and toes) crossed for you,

Lots of love,