In the gardening world, there’s no such thing as an invisible fence.
With spring comes the delight of new blossoms, vibrant green foliage, bird sounds, and…
the vast array of pestilence, pollutants and problems navigating from your neighbors’ property into your garden. And vice versa, of course.
Each spring, my most tiresome gardening chore has been to remove the billions of seed pods that cascade from all over the neighborhood onto my yard and patio. The seeds don’t all fall at once, though. The nuisance comes in waves, so that once I’ve finished cleaning up one set of seeds, the following week I’m onto the next onslaught.
There are no catalpas, sweet gums, oaks, ashes, aspens, pines or maples in my yard, front or back. But I enjoy their offspring each year. I’ve spent days on my hands and knees picking seeds and pine needles out of my ground covers and out of the rock mulch. Sweeping them off my patio is a daily chore.
I’m fortunate that my neighbor to the east, my sister, is a conscientious gardener. She put her ash tree on birth control last year and so far, fingers-crossed, her ash tree is childless—no seeds in my garden yet.
I used to have six aspens in my backyard, which I didn’t plant. They were a huge nuisance to me AND my sister. For years they not only dropped tons of furry seeds but they also produced a colossal amount of little tree suckers, which knew no boundaries. The trees are gone now, willingly chopped down by me after they all began to suffer from beetle borer.
So, you see, I was a nuisance neighbor, too.
Squirrels aren’t observers of any boundaries, invisible or not, and they quickly figure out where to dine.
My mother’s caregiver provides peanuts for her squirrel friends living in the tree in my mom’s yard (mom lives behind my sister who lives next door). One of the squirrels visited me the other day, begging for a handout. She also spent a few minutes taunting my dog.
My large, bountiful peach tree has always encouraged the squirrels to visit routinely. And on the way back to their home base they stop by my sister’s apple tree for another helping of fruit.
My neighbor to the west has a rickety picket fence surrounding his front yard. This year, the paint from his fence is peeling off and the flakes are blowing into my garden. From there, they travel into my sister’s garden.
I could complain about all the leaves that fall and blow into my garden from my neighbors’ trees, but then I’d have to apologize for the pocket gophers that left my yard to take up residence next door. Of course, I’m convinced those critters originated from neighbor-to-the west’s yard. The one whose diseased ash tree dumped aphids all over my shade garden.
There are aphids all over those fallen leaves.
I think the English ivy that used to be in my shade garden is now taking over neighbor-to-the west’s backyard. I didn’t plan for that to happen, just as I’m sure he didn’t intend for his fence to shed its skin all over my garden.
Again, my neighbor to the west has a lush field of highly invasive Bethlehem star in his backyard that arrives in spring. Now I’m fighting to keep it from over-running my shade garden.Then again, I have a feeling that next spring he’s going to find California poppies growing in his yard. The ONE poppy I planted in a pot has now found its way into other areas of my garden.
My squirrel-feeding neighbor loves her Morning Glories. The rest of us don’t.
I’m the kind of gardener who doesn’t want volunteer plants taking up residence in my garden. I want what I’ve planted. So, even though I love phlox, I don’t appreciate my neighbor-to-the-south’s aggressive invaders establishing a colony against my back fence.
It's a NIMBY gardening philosophy.
Sigh. You can’t win. You can’t live in a bubble whether you’re a gardener or not. Thinking that your yard is surrounded by an impenetrable barrier is optimistic at best but at worst it’s just plain delusional. Gardening is an act of sharing. Living in this world is an act of sharing.
So, chill out.
(Featured image "Living in a Bubble" via Flickr )