Thursday 13 August 2009

The other side of the fence

Our house has an identical twin next door,
except that it has been divided into four flats.
They are occupied by busy and somewhat transient people,
and in the sixteen years we have lived here,
only one elderly gent was at all interested in the garden.
He expended quite a lot of effort trying, and largely succeeding,
in killing a row of lime trees on the far boundary.
He also grew sweetcorn.

Over the years the large garden has become inundated by brambles,
bindweed and self sown ash trees,
and these are now making strenuous efforts to colonise our garden.
The brambles vault over the flimsy falling-down fence,
the bindweed lassoes itself into our trees,
and ash tree seedlings become sturdy saplings overnight.

So yesterday I climbed through a gap
at the end of the garden behind an old air raid shelter

and surveyed the scene from the other side of the fence

and then I started hacking.

I freed this bench under a choked magnolia tree
which used to be underplanted with crocuses in Spring.

I discovered an old greenhouse with a yew tree growing inside it.

I picked a few blackberries

and eyed up this elderberry for possible wine making.

It's called guerrilla gardening.
I have made virtually no impression yet,
but may have just checked the westward progress of the neglect.

Because I am a law-abiding sort,
I once asked the landlords if anything could be done
about the state of the garden before I went in,
but they said they had no longer had any responsibility for it.
I asked them if they would at least mend the fence
which was toppling into their passageway.
After four years someone came and pushed it up
when I pointed out that in the event of a fire
no one would be able to get to safety if the front exit was blocked.

After about an hour of slashing, snagging and scratching
I made a remarkable discovery.
In the midst of all this dereliction-
an astonishing surprise.

I'll tell you about it tomorrow.

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