Saturday, November 17, 2007

There Are Worse Things That Could Happen To A Garden...

...but seeing a block garage, concrete walkways, and a brick wall replace views of the open sky and plots of fertile soil is nevertheless pretty bad. Back in September, my neighbours undertook a massive backyard construction project. They built a large house addition and an even bigger garage. Today, whatever bit of their backyard lawn was left disappeared under poured concrete. All of their "improvements" come right up to the property line. The full extent of the impact (ie. devastation) on my garden is now crystal clear.

Because so much work happened on or near the property line, the work crews trampled on just about everything. Just a few months ago the liatris, globe thistle, purple coneflowers, veronica, iris, helenium and foxtail lily thrived here. But there's nothing left to prove it. Everything has been trampled out of existence. I'm sure all the plants are just fine and cozy in the warm earth -- but seeing all evidence of them obliterated makes me nervous nonetheless. Another concern is that the soil has been so compacted by sturdy workboots that it may as well be concrete. I'll have to turn the soil and let winter break it up a bit. But without knowing exactly where some of my favourite plants are, that too makes me nervous.

Here's the new view from the backyard deck. The horror! That has got to change. Anyone have any great suggestions for a hedge that will grow fast and tall? In an effort to stay positive I will say that we will have an unprecedented level of privacy for a city backyard. The tree hides most of the wall but I don't know if the tree will make it. The needles on the bottom branches have almost all turned brown. And I'm beginning to see more and more brown inching its way upward to the top of the tree. Bad things happen when you cut off HALF of a trees root system to make way for an addition. I spent a good part of my afternoon looking at the work that's been done next door. Much of that time was spent shaking my head in disbelief and slapping my forehead in exasperation. How could city planners and engineers allow this?

And then I noticed the astilbe. It brought me to my senses. While I am upset about what has happened, I think I would be more upset if the garden weren't looking so darn beautiful right now. In my last post, I was oohing and ahhing over red. But just look at how golden the astilbe look. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. In the past I cut the flower heads off as soon as they finished blooming. I won't do that again because they look absolutely stunning (click on any of the images for a closer-look). I've never thought of myself as a fan of yellow...that is changing.

I also noticed how the astilbe provides a beautiful backdrop for the Bloodgood Japanese Maple. It's only about three feet tall right now. Looking around the neighbourhood I see mature Japanese Maples and they simply take my breath away. Everything from their form to their colour is quite simply perfection. It will be just a joy to see this tree grow to maturity. The anticipation makes me feel like a kid on Christmas morning.

Even my mushy hosta is looking pretty darn good right now. It really brightens the shady side of the garden. So despite the awfulness of the construction zone next door, it's the beauty of the garden that won me over today. It's the beauty of the garden that convinced me that all of the neighbours' "improvements" can be further improved upon through the careful placement of shrubs, trees, bulbs and perennials. Spring will mean a whole new start in the garden. Perhaps one of the worst things to happen in my garden will turn out to be one of the best.

What's the worst thing that ever happened to your garden?

7 comments:

Pam/Digging said...

I'm sorry about your trampled plants and walled view. On the bright side, your surviving plants are indeed quite pretty, and I've always thought that a nice, brick wall can really enhance a city garden. You can espalier against it, hang art on it, put a wall fountain against it, grow ivy on it (not a good idea without permission though). It might provide you with a new protected microclimate to try new plants. I just hope this one doesn't cast your garden into deep shade.

Owin & Irena said...

thanks for the ideas pam. the walls of the house and garage will not affect the sunlight in my garden thank goodness. I had hopes that the neighbours would be open to the idea of ivy or a virginia creeper. i mentioned it to test the waters and got a very chilly reception. I see either a hedge or building a trellis in front of the wall. very much looking forward to trying something new.
irena

Soilman said...

So sorry to hear about this, Irena. I suppose, depending upon which way the wall faces, you could put some trellis against it and grow roses. You may take heart from the thought that if you can keep that tree alive, its roots will suck water from under their building (it's growing SO close) and cause subsidence.
Mother Nature strikes back...

Owin & Irena said...

roses are a great idea soilman. i love their fragrance. a definite possibility. i've got my fingers crossed for the tree. It never occured to me the damage the roots could do to the building. But I have to admit it made me smile. you've got a bit of a wicked streak in you.
Irena

Connie said...

You have the right attitude and hopefully some new ideas and good things will come out of it for your garden.
The worst thing that ever happened to my garden was one year when we had chickens that got out of the pen and scratched much of my flowers into the ground. :-(

Owin & Irena said...

chickens in the yard? okay, I've never experienced anything like that. but if they were anything like squirrels I can imagine what you went through.
irena

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