As gardeners we need to be continually adapting, whether it is to changing weather patterns, replacing ailing and much loved plants or in my case losing the tree canopy from the woodland end of the garden; to the extent that there is no woodland.
I have been anticipating this change for a number of years now. Ever since the couple who lived next door split and their children went to University I knew it was only a matter of time before the house was sold and new owners would be tackling the garden. I don’t think in the 13 odd years we have lived here that my neighbours had ever done any gardening other than cutting the grass, chopping off the odd branch that got in their way and weeding the driveway. The garden had obviously been much loved by their predecessors and there have always been signs of good plants hidden amongst the undergrowth. The house was on the market for a year and during this time I have made sure that I planted some shrubs in the woodland border to replace the tree canopy should new owners tidy up on the boundary line.
The new owners finally took up ownership about a month ago. They are a young family full of energy and enthusiasm with two sets of grandparents helping to sort out the property before they move in. I found myself wondering how the house felt yesterday as over the last few weeks every weekend the air has been filled with the sound of sanders and drills and I think they have painted every room in the house – they say the interior was as neglected as the exterior. But more fascinating to me has been the gungho attitude to sorting out the garden. One of the grandfathers (or ‘olds’ as his son refers to them) is a dab hand with a chain saw and strimmer. On the first weekend they set too in the front and by the end not only did they have a pile of debris some 10 foot tall but you could actually see the far front corner of the house up which was growing a beautiful climbing hydrangea. They have worked along the furthest boundary, finding a shed on their way and yesterday it was the turn of our shared boundary.
Having been blessed with complete privacy from this side of the garden ever since we moved here it was rather startling to come round the side of the house from planting in the front to see two men clearing the fence line. They have removed the majority of the trees and intend to remove the sycamore and ash trees as well. The intention is to only keep a large oak tree, which we didn’t even know existed, and some prunus. The large sycamore is going as its roots are pushing over the retaining brick wall that holds up the garden – my reaction is ‘hoorah, no more sycamore seedlings!’ They think they have doubled the size of the garden already; certainly they have gained something like 6-7 foot along our fence line and probably 15 along the back fence. You can just about see the difference if you compare the two top pictures and they still have a lot to clear so the sunlight levels should increase further.
The impact on the garden has been quite dramatic with sunlight flooding in to what was the shady part of the garden. The shade had been so dense in the past that the ‘lawn’ was just moss which is partly why it was dug up. Being a perennial Pollyanna I am trying to look past the fact that they can see into my garden and vice versa and focus on the fact that the patio is now much sunnier which means that it might be worth getting a couple of nice chairs. I don’t have to group all my sun loving pots down one end of the patio any more which means I can arrange things better. It also means that I had to spend some time today moving the shade loving pots to the opposite side of the garden into a smaller area of shade and replacing them with pots of bulbs which should really benefit from the extra light.
It will be interesting to see how the shade loving plants cope and whether the shrubs I have planted will give them enough shade. There are a couple of self-sown hawthorns in my garden along the fence line which I have deliberately left for some years and they are now higher than the fence so I will allow those to grow up into trees and provide some privacy. But what I am really interested to see if whether my perennials which have a tendency to lean towards the right of the garden will straighten up if they are getting all round sun-shine. It really is quite fascinating.