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Why Can't We All Just Be Gardeners?


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Terry Corum said,

Thursday, August 14. 2008 at 10:04 (Link) (Reply)

Colleen, I am SO sorry that your neighbor had the gall to rip out your plants. That is so very rude and a few other words that I won't even type! It made me want to cry too. The reason behind your neighbors deed is unfathomable, especially since the rest of their yard is unkempt.

I only recently started to read your blog and haven't gotten around to all of it yet. I hope you don't loose heart from this experience.
Cindy said,

Thursday, August 14. 2008 at 10:17 (Link) (Reply)

Colleen, I'm close to speechless. Imbeciles, complete and utter imbeciles. That's the kind of senseless, careless, thoughtless act that keeps me awake plotting revenge. (I'd be happy to offer you a few of my more creative suggestions privately!)

No way is it pathetic to cry over plants ... they're a lot more than that to you. They're dreams realized, hopes nurtured and come to fruition. I know you'll go forth and plant again, and find beauty and happiness once more.
Kathy said,

Thursday, August 14. 2008 at 10:45 (Link) (Reply)

Oh, that is so heartbreaking and discouraging. My friend Bub, who has a garden so nice the local garden clubs tour it, unfortunately lives next to a real eyesore. This neighbor asked permission to trim one branch from a tree on her property that was overhanging his, which she agreed to. While she and her husband were gone, he cut many branches, most of which were not overhanging his property and were in fact screening the view. I think he actually topped one tree, too. I try never to mention his name around her, or even get near the topic.

Our next door neighbor keeps mowing more of our property each year, as she continues to believe the line is 8 feet from her evergreens, even as they've grown from seedlings to 8 feet wide trees.

Plants give some people (like my dad), the creeps, especially vines. That could be part of your neighbor's problem. Blindness to their own mess is probably another part.

You Grow Girl has had her gardens vandalized, too. You just feel kind of violated, don't you?

Came here via Cindy's twitter, btw. And I agree, it's a lot more than plants you were crying about. You were symbolically slapped in the face.
Mr. McGregor's Daughter said,

Thursday, August 14. 2008 at 10:47 (Link) (Reply)

Usually the easiest way to determine whose fence it is is to see on which side of the fence are the posts. If they're on your side, it's almost certainly your fence. If they're on the neighbor's property, it's probably their fence. In any event, it is the height of unneighborliness to rip out someone's plants, even if they are growing on your fence. I don't blame you for being upset & crying. All that work & all that beauty, gone. If I were you, I'd go out & get some cheap metal trellises to stick into the ground in front of the fence. That way, next year you can hide the eyesore with confidence that the neighbors can do nothing about it.
Colleen said,

Thursday, August 14. 2008 at 10:52 (Link) (Reply)

Hi MMD---

Those posts are on my side, sister. My fence. Ha! Now I know I'm right and doubly pissed. ;-)

Thanks for that awesome tip. I was wondering about that.

I am definitely putting trellises up next year, all along that fence line. I'll still do my expanded veggie garden there, but you can bet that I'll be keeping a close eye on it!

Thanks again!
Anthony said,

Thursday, August 14. 2008 at 11:00 (Link) (Reply)

I'm speechless. Wow, that's messed up. I'm really impressed with your restraint. I would have done something stupid and gotten myself in trouble.
eliz said,

Thursday, August 14. 2008 at 11:21 (Link) (Reply)

What a jerk. I have a neighbor that would totally do that. Unfortunately you'll probably need to look at the original surveyor's docs to figure out the boundaries. That can be a real hassle.

But you should. You need to to settle it for once and for all.
Katie said,

Thursday, August 14. 2008 at 11:26 (Link) (Reply)

Oh Colleen! I am so sorry! I think you said it best when you said, "In general, it's full of people who just don't get it."

How can people be so stupid??!
Jenny said,

Thursday, August 14. 2008 at 11:55 (Link) (Reply)

I'm so sorry, Colleen. What rotten neighbors. (My own neighbors not only don't mind my squash that inadvertently grew through the fence and onto their side, they invited me to pick tomatoes from their yard, and I'm extremely grateful for them.)
susan harris said,

Thursday, August 14. 2008 at 12:39 (Link) (Reply)

Okay, I've had the exact same problem with my next-door neighbor (long gone, thank goodness) and it definitely IS my fence! I'd been training ivy to cover the chain link fence around my front yard for 3 years and suddenly find she's ripped it all out from the fence adjoining our properties - said she didn't want to hide the fence. (chain link, remember?) So I had to retrain the ivy, being careful that it never entered HER air space but only stayed attached to MY side of the chain link. Really ridiculous, huh? Not to mention the idea of someone wanting to see that fence in the first place.
But I was careful with her, and here's why. She was (still is?) an honest-to-god voodoo priestess and I was scared shitless of her! Especially for the safety of my cats, who used to be free to roam onto her property. Yep, her voodoo skills trumped even my outrage as a gardener.
But as I say, she's long gone and the current neighbor has let me completely take over her garden, without complaint, and even asks permission to plant or move something!@ Maybe to her I'm a little scary, like a voodoo priestess.
Dee/reddirtramblings said,

Thursday, August 14. 2008 at 15:02 (Link) (Reply)

Colleen, I am so sorry. I don't know if I could have contained my anger and frustration.

Right now, I'm glad I live in the country even if it is Dogpatch. Most people here wouldn't rip up plants, and I only have one adjoining fence anyway. Craziness abounds, but isn't so closed in.

You poor thing. I would weep about the effort, time and plans I'd made.

Maybe, I'll never move to town.~~Dee
Leslie said,

Thursday, August 14. 2008 at 16:31 (Link) (Reply)

I am unable to comprehend what they were thinking... although I had a neighbor who would 'prune' my privets by reaching over and chopping them off (in my yard) at fence height. This made me tear up in sympathy...I'm just so sorry! Take care of yourself.
mss @ Zanthan Gardens said,

Thursday, August 14. 2008 at 16:32 (Link) (Reply)

"When you take time to nurture something, when you've looked at it daily and watched it evolve from mere seeds to full, lush, colorful plants, it's personal."

That's the kind of loss worth crying over--whether the agent is a thoughtless neighbor* or thoughtless nature, the pain stems because we put so much of ourselves into those things we nurture.

* I'm being generous here and assuming that it was thoughtlessness not maliciousnes at work--not that it makes that much difference since what was is gone.
Lori said,

Thursday, August 14. 2008 at 17:40 (Link) (Reply)

Colleen, that is awful! And they're such hypocrites, too, what with the state of their yard. I had a similar experience last summer, and the less I rant about that, the better for my blood pressure. What I don't understand is that if plants on the shared fence bothered the neighbors so much, why couldn't they, oh, leave a note in my mailbox or knock on my door one afternoon and say, "Hey, this is bothering me, could you do something about it?" I would have been happy to take my Felcos over to their side of the fence and remove any vegetation that crossed the lot line, but not getting any warning and then walking outside to THAT was *&*&^$%^$!!! And it's even worse for you, since you were growing food! This year I've put up trellises and am growing tall ornamental grasses to screen the view, but it's just not the same.
Annie in Austin said,

Thursday, August 14. 2008 at 22:23 (Link) (Reply)

Poor baby! I'm going to follow MSS of Zanthan's lead and assume it is ignorance rather than vindictiveness... to many people the outside world is a place that needs "cleaning" ...all those leaves and grass and non-geometric shapes and vines. Vines of any sort are the scariest of all. If they're growing on the nice chainlink they must be dangerous indeed.

Maybe you don't want to put the trellis there no matter whose fence it is, Colleen. Could you figure out some kind of freestanding structure well inside your line? You have to worry about more than mechanical damage when you live next to fools.

I lived in a few houses with chainlink and there's no way to stop a person on the other side from using chemicals on their side. It doesn't have to be a neighbor, but could be their lawn service. The chemicals can get into the root zone of plants you grow close to the fence which is how I once lost thriving, blooming clematis vines.

My neighbors once chopped off a blooming moonvine when it climbed over the top of my privacy fence into their crepe myrtle. If I had a gardener living next door we could have raised our glasses in the moonlight, sharing a toast to the beauty of those flowers.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose
OldRoses said,

Friday, August 15. 2008 at 01:37 (Link) (Reply)

Oh, Colleen! I know just how you feel. The exact same thing happened to me. On my birthday, no less. After growing stuff on "their" fence for almost a decade with nary a word from the neighbors not to grow things on their fence. So, so wrong.

Yes, you are allowed to cry. And curse. Then, once you have calmed down, you might want to have a word with the offenders. Something along the lines of destruction of property, stealing food from children's mouths, small claims court, restitution . . . You get the idea.
Kateri said,

Friday, August 15. 2008 at 12:22 (Link) (Reply)

Wow. Unbelievable! I can't even begin to imagine how horrible that would be to have someone rip out plants I had carefully nurtured.
TC said,

Friday, August 15. 2008 at 20:58 (Link) (Reply)

I feel for those of you who have to worry with incompatible neighbors. Luckily, I don't have neighbors, next door neighbors anyway. But if I did, I would hope they'd be just a tad more understanding than your's Colleen.

What a shame that you had to lose your side yard garden.
Chookie said,

Saturday, August 16. 2008 at 01:48 (Link) (Reply)

I'm so sorry to hear about this! Here, the laws are different, and we mostly have paling or Colorbond fences anyway. Chain-link isn't terribly private! I think your neighbours are probably ignorant of the law and their handyman might have acted without their knowledge anyway. Will your hubby be having a word with them?
Rosengeranium (Indoor Gardener) said,

Monday, August 18. 2008 at 07:21 (Link) (Reply)

Believe me, I would cry too. I assume you've tried talking to them before, and if you try it again I think you should do it in person and without anger. A middle man, even if it is your hubby, will only complicate things further (bring him along if you feel like, though).

You can agree on another style of fence (your neighbours do seems to be hostile to your garden, so a wall style fence may be the best choice) or just establish a few rules on growing stuff close to it. The fact that their garden is a junkyard hints that they don't have much knowledge in growing stuff, but they may have other plans for their yard.

Personally I would go for a wall style fence, or an actual wall if the money is available. And I would step away from my feelings and evaluate this conflict a bit - you've been fighting with these neighbours before and you're in danger in creating a minor feud. Don't feed that monster! If your neighbours are unreasonable, or even conflict parasites*, work around them.

*Persons who feed and starts conflicts around themselves, just for the sake of the conflicts. It's best to avoid them, but if that's not possible defensive defence is best; give no hook for a new conflict and no fuel to an existing one.
Dave said,

Tuesday, August 19. 2008 at 23:47 (Link) (Reply)

Anyone with any sense would have at least spoken to you about it first even if it was their fence. If the fence is on a shared border I don't think it's unreasonable to grow things on it. The time you spent training your plants was valuable to you so it is very understandable why you were upset. Your neighbor wasn't much of a neighbor!
gina said,

Sunday, August 24. 2008 at 08:41 (Link) (Reply)

Oh my goodness, Colleen! I can't believe I'm just now readiing this! I hope you have disposed of those bitches by now!

I so know how you feel!!

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