Sorry, it turned into a rant

It’s that time of the day again.

The sun is draping itself gently on the rooftops of Nottingham as I stare out of the window at the back of the house and try to look like a writer. There’s still a while before sunset and the sky has not yet taken on any colour, but I am a patient man and I live in hope. It’s low enough to light up the trees in the garden and it is doing a particularly fine job of lighting up the variegated holly which are looking quite spectacular tonight.

The view, rather like the Amazon, has been deforested over the years.

On our left the neighbour removed an ornamental plum and a crab apple tree, as well as ripping up their lawn and spreading the garden with gravel. They also pushed over our laburnum tree when they had a new fence put up. It didn’t need moving, but they had never liked it and used to hack at it whenever they got a chance. I can’t, of course, prove that it was done with malice, but I’m pretty sure that this was the case.

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Small Tortoiseshell on Red Valerian

That same corner was the site of a strange case of forsythia die-back, a disease that only seems to have existed in one corner in one particular garden in the country. A man give to muttering dark things about his neighbours might justifiably think that they had poured something through the gap in the fence to poison his plants.

When I win the lottery I am going to fit this house with a high-powered sound system and it out to students. This will be my revenge. I’m also going to fit water feature and wind chimes – let’s see how they like it.

To be fair, they do still have two Leylandii, which are the only trees, apart from ours, in a six garden area.

Over the years a couple of birches have disappeared from a garden at the back of us, supposedly removed because they were rotten. They looked good when they were cut, and they haven’t been replaced.

The worst loss was the hawthorn. It looked to me to be shared between four gardens because it had grown at the junction of the fences but one of the neighbours took it on himself to remove it one day and that was that.

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Arnot Hill

That was a really bad day for biodiversity. We frequently used to have nesting birds in that tree – mainly blackbirds.

The neighbours on the other side, the ones who used to complain regularly, took several trees out too, though apart from a few Leylandii I can’t remember what they had. They were the ones that reported me to the the local Community Support Officer because of the brambles, the overhanging plums and the leaves which blew into her garden. She actually wanted me to cut the trees down to stop the leaves and the plums dropping in her garden.

As I pointed out, you can’t stop leaves (and there couldn’t have been many of them) and I thought of the plums as giving them free fruit, rather than being a nuisance. You can’t help some people.

The brambles, you say? Yes, I admit they are a nuisance, but several of them were actually coming from their garden into ours under the fence. A previous gardener seems to have had cultivated blackberries in the garden and they have always been rampant. And juicy. I suppose some people just don’t like fresh fruit.

We’re not savages, by the way, and not even particularly bad neighbours, despite the way things may sound, so we did cut the brambles and the plum branches. Couldn’t stop the leaves though.

That leaves our garden as the only one making an effort for nature. We have  a privet, which I confess was a mistake, the holly, a plum, the one we don’t know the name of, and a Leylandii. This needs topping as it is really too big for the garden now, but most years we have pigeons nesting in it and I never get round to it. We also have a couple of apple trees in pots but I always feel guilty about them as they look so dispirited. I really must give them some compost.

I didn’t really mean to run on about the deforestation of back gardens and the drive to force out wildlife, but I did. Sorry about the crusading, but I just don’t know why people don’t just live in flats, or even dungeons, if they hate trees and wildlife so much.

It’s an outdoor space full of birds and insects and even animals and kids. It’s not an extension of the living room. You can tell the difference because of the absence of carpets, though I’ve recently seen astroturf on sale in a garden centre so even that distinction is being blurred. I’ve been thinking that I really must get on top of the garden next year. And plant more trees.

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Apple at Mencap Gardens

28 thoughts on “Sorry, it turned into a rant

  1. Clare Pooley

    I think this is a very restrained rant considering the problems you have with your neighbours. We are very fortunate with our neighbours though we do back onto a large arable field which is regularly sprayed with herbicides. That is a gorgeous-looking apple and the poppy with all those hoverflies is wonderful!

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  2. Anne

    Yay for trees! We inherited a desert of a garden when we arrived over thirty years ago and immediately setting about planting as many trees as possible. We do not get Brownie points from the neighbours, who generally regard our garden as being overgrown and rather unkempt, but we have a regular round of birds visiting – and nesting – in the garden (around 70 species during the course of a year at least) and derive a lot of pleasure from the lizards, bees and butterflies.

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    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      Yes, lots of front gardens being used for parking here too, though I haven’t seen any carports yet. The neighbour who complained a lot ripped out the front garden and had a block-effect dark grey surface laid. It looks like a prison exercise yard.

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  3. Sharon

    Why do people seem to hate trees so much, really what is wrong with them. I just stumbled across your blog but can relate to what you write, I have similar issues with a neighbour. Reading a great book at the moment called Overstory which is making me feel better about loving trees and the natural world.

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  4. arlingwoman

    Goodness, people can be awful. I still miss a hawthorn some idiots cut down a few years back. Gaaaa. I do think you should plant the apple trees and learn how to espalier them, which looks horrid and like they’ve been crucified, but they do well in a small space that way and won’t bother your neighbors. They will also give fruit only on your side of the fence (that woman is [insert swear word of your choice] nuts. She should have the problem one of my cousins had with dogs leaving droppings that his children stepped in. He asked her nicely two or three times to keep her dogs out of his yard. Then he collected all the droppings and spread them on her porch over a newspaper, so she would walk out onto them when she left the house. Her dogs never again entered his yard. Which I suppose supports the possibility that it’s hard to live in community, eh?

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    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      A man started the habit of taking his German shepherd to void its bowels on the small grass verge in front of my parents’ house a bout 40 years ago. They were large and unpleasant and in those days there was no law about clearing up after your dog. We had to clear it, and he must have thought he’d found a magic self-cleaning verge.

      One day he actually stopped and let the dog do it while I was in the garden with my mother.

      I said: “How would he like it if I took a dump outside his garden gate?”

      My mother told me not to be crude. But the man never came back again.

      These days, of course, I wouldn’t be so subtle.

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    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      I’m sure that is because you are a saintly and considerate neighbour yourself. As ye sow, so shall ye reap. I hope mine don’t read this – I get in enough trouble from Julia and my sister without adding the neighbours.

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  5. jodierichelle

    Wow! So many bees on that poppy! Wonderful! I’m a gardening renegade like you are. We have nearby neighborhoods (not ours) where all the lawns are trimmed and poisoned and primped to within an inch of their lives. If I lived there I’d be the outcast for sure, because I’d much rather have bugs and weeds and life in my yard than to have a lovely lawn. Rant away, sir.

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