The International Steam Pages

Our Cup Runneth Over
Love Thy Neighbours

This page is part of a series of garden blogs from 2016. Click here for the index.

It is widely recognised that gardening is becoming a lost art in the UK. The areas in front of houses are becoming car parks, one of our local garden centres has gone gently bankrupt and we are surrounded on three sides by neighbours who don't share our aspirations.  Most of my reports show our beautiful garden in the sunshine, this page shows some aspects of what I call 'hidden gardening', I've deliberately taken the pictures on a dull day. 

The recently widowed old lady on our north side is unable to manage her 'patch'. However, I am eternally grateful for her role in saving our house from more catastrophic flood damage when a ball valve broke while we were in the Irrawaddy Delta in Burma in December 2010 and roughly every fortnight, I cut her grass and I maintain her side of our common border as well which is obviously in our interest. Her property doesn't reach as far up as ours, behind is a field which has been abandoned by its owners, this year we have even suffered a wild boar invasion from it. As a result, I have again taken things into my own hands, I've been into the field cutting back the ferns, brambles, ivy, bindweed and grass and have blocked the hole in the fence. The good news is that our honeysuckle is making great progress invading in the opposite direction. I spent half a day cutting a 2 metre passage out of the jungle, it will buy us some more time. 

Behind to the west we have a sheep field running up the hill, I have good relations with the owners, they maintain the fencing and once a year, I go in and spend half a day cutting back the brambles, the ram that lives in the first section has so much grass he ignores them. Fortunately, in both cases I don't have to worry about 'concealing the evidence', it just gets left where it falls. If I didn't cut back the undergrowth, we would be 'invaded' as happened in the period before we bought our place. 

Sadly, I've run out of ideas on the south side; elsewhere, I've told the story of the three trees of which just one is left. Generally, I don't speak with our old lady neighbour any more, but Yuehong listens to her politely because she suffers idiots more than I do. As of late June 2016, her grass is awaiting its first cut (ours has had 10) and while lower down the hedges offer some protection, higher up I have snipped the tops off the nearest weeds and am using our grass cuttings as a protective mulch.

A couple of weeks ago, I was performing the semi-annual trim of the top of our high bordering Leylandii hedge when she rushed out of her house and demanded to know what I was doing. I politely explained but she just said "Look at the mess you are making on my side!". Holding back my laughter, I insisted on coming round to tidy up my work. As expected, there was no sign of it at all among the vegetation but at least it allowed me to snip the ivy and brambles which were invading us... Anything else I could add would be rightly judged as libellous.

Click here for the next installment.

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson