When we moved into the house where I grew up, my mother, who was an avid gardener, decided to remove the overgrown hedge of wild roses that ran along one side of the backyard and plant a long border of perennials instead.
On hearing this news, the gardener next door was anything, but pleased. Removing the hedge would mean that they would have no privacy.
From that point, the disagreement over the common lot line only escalated.
Once the thorny rose hedge had been removed, my parent's discovered that the neighbour's rock garden extended up the slope and over the property line approximately three feet. Lawyers advised them to reclaim their land and insist that the rock garden be removed.
The sad ending to this story is that decades of animosity followed the removal of the garden and its replacement with a pedestrian strip of green grass.
Childhood experiences like this tend to inform the actions of your adult life. I often think of the hostility that simmered quietly under the surface between the two waring factions and have always tried to avoid such unpleasantness with my own neighbours, although it hasn't always been easy.
In our current home, we have neighbours on two sides. The land to the east and back of our lot is owned by a Regional government. Depending on the particular government official we have crossed paths with, they have been both a wonderful and mean-spirited neighbour.
On the other side we have had the steady company of one single neighbour for all the years we have lived in Huttonville. She's been great and we always got along famously.
Then last fall she moved...
Our new neighbours are a young couple. The house they ended up purchasing had fallen on hard times in recent years and the garden had become a neglected mess of weeds.
Wasting no time, our new neighbours immediately set to work on all fronts; house and garden. They approached renovating the house and neglected yard with such vim and vigour that it made us, the much older couple next door, tired just to witness.
When it comes to the exterior, our new neighbours have been like two bulls in a china shop. Late last fall all the shrubs and weeds were ruthlessly slashed to the ground. I was absolutely heartbroken to see that a peach Quince, whose flowers you see pictured in this post, was cut down to a height of one foot. That pretty shrub, which had bloomed faithfully each spring, had to be at least twenty or thirty years old.
The yard next door immediately began to look more tidy, although no thought appears to have been given to the need to permanently remove any roots. It does not seem to have occurred to them that it will all grow back this spring.
Hardest of all to watch has been to watch the ruthless trimming of tree branches. The big maple and black walnut in our yard, whose branches dared to stray over the property line, were cut off in the crudest of fashions. Falling maple limbs broke sections of our fence in two places. There was an apology for the fence damage a few days after the fact and a vague offer to make repairs that has yet to materialize.
A majestic evergreen whose branches used to drape over the fence into our yard was limbed up two stories. Now it is naked, ugly pole with a story of uneven growth at the very top. Words cannot describe how truly horrendous it looks!
Adding to this carnage, is the damage to our trees from last winter's ice storm.
A view of the back corner of the yard with the house in the distance.
A key tree at the side of the house had to be taken down last weekend and we still have to sort out what is to be done with the trees in the back corner of the yard (pictured above).
Unfortunately, we share custody of these trees with the aforementioned Regional government and they are never easy to deal with.
This spirea is the one bush that escaped being slashed to the ground.
In the past, our backyard always felt very private. Now that the tree is gone at the side of the house, we can clearly see our neighbour's house and they can see ours.
If the trees at the back go too, I am likely to have a sunny garden where once I had shade.
It's a brave new world and this gardening season is likely to be one where my garden undergoes really big changes...