Once upon a time I had a nice Holly tree in my garden, it wasn’t that big when I moved in here 11 years ago, but Holly trees are relatively fast growers and mine was no exception. By this summer it had a healthy height of around 8 metres.
Now, anyone who has a Holly tree probably has the same love/hate relationship with their tree as I had; love the look of it, the flowers, the berries, but hate the razor sharp leaves it drop 6-8 months a year! And I didn’t make it easy for myself either, by having gravel on the ground under the tree so I couldn’t just sweep up the leaves, no, I had to actually pick the leaves up. Sometimes it could be a rather painful job!
The Holly tree provided a nice, cosy area where I had my seating, sheltered from both the strong sun in the summer and the cold wind in the spring and autumn. I also had a breezeblock wall as a backdrop here, not exactly the most beautiful thing in the world, but it was here when I moved in and it was OK. But then the house owner next door decided to build an extension, and everything changed. The tree was in his way so he just chopped off the branches on his side of the fence, as and when he needed space. I have no photos of what the tree looked like in the end but I can assure you the tree would not have survived being treated like that, the weight of it would have made it list and bend into my garden eventually. Then my breezeblock wall broke loose from the main wall due to the building work next door and most of the breezeblocks started to come apart. It was no longer safe to sit here in my corner.
I contacted my housing association and they promised to come and take down my Holly tree and to fix my wall. I asked them to replace the breezeblock wall with more wooden fence panels, as that would be an easier job and look better. The extension work next door continued, at snail pace. This photo was taken in late September and he started digging the foundation in February. Getting the tree down was a longer process than the 3 weeks it should take, I reported the two jobs, take down the tree and fix the wall on the 26th July and the tree was down on 28th September, two months with emails and phone calls to my housing association.
This is all that is left of my Holly tree. The stump is treated with Roundup so the roots will hopefully die, but the stump will have to be removed by axe and elbow grease – not mine, that’s going to have to be someone else’s elbow grease.
The seating area I was left with after the tree was gone was so much brighter! But with the dangerous wall still up I could not use it much. It’s not easy to see it in this photo, but most of the breezeblocks are actually loose, just resting on top of each other. The slightest push could have made the whole thing come tumbling down. Good thing they never had any heavy machinery next door, everything was done very much by hand since none of us here have back access to our gardens. Any vibrating machinery could have set off this wall and made me a pile of rubble!
But finally, after another 2 months of phone calls and emails from me, my housing association has been here and finished the job! I got a nice fence where once I had a breezeblock wall. They didn’t paint it though, left the panels in that horrible yellow colour they come in when they are new, so I have been out 4 days, dodging the rain and painted (stained) the 1 and 1/8 fence panel so it would look the same as the rest I have. I could only manage to do a bit every day, that’s why it took me 4 days, it was a very cold experience, had to skip a few days even if it didn’t rain, because the temperature was too low – it can only be applied above 5 degrees Celsius, and we didn’t have that every day during the day! But now it’s done, looking good :-)
Unfortunately, my neighbour’s landlord (privately owned) is still working at snail pace, not much has happened next door the last couple of months and all his rubbish and building material and excavated soil is piled up against my wooden fence. I have complained about it to him, but got a shrug back.
This is what I am living next door to, the rubbish and building material is making my fences bulge and crack up.
The only place I can see my garden from inside my house is from my upstairs bedroom window, as in these Victorian houses, my living room is towards the street, not towards my garden. So if I can’t go outside for some reason, and want to just sit and watch my garden I go and sit in my chair in my bedroom. But the view is rather blighted by next door garden, which I unfortunately can see just as well as my own. Their garden has looked more or less like this for the 11 years I have lived in this house. That broken washing machine has been out there for at least 5 years. Some of the rubbish gets taken out at times and replaced by new rubbish, but the garden has looked like a dumping ground all these 11 years I have been living next door to them.
The new extension wall facing me is not exactly pretty so I have already bought a plant to go up the fence and up the wall, hopefully as quickly as possible! The plant is a Clematis armandii 'Apple Blossom' and I hope it will thrive on this north facing wall. This clematis is evergreen, the main reason why I chose it, but it also has beautiful, scented flowers in March/April. It can grow to 8 meter tall, so it should be able to cover the whole fence and extension quite nicely within a couple of years. I hope it grows fast, it is rather small still!
I have obviously no photo of flowers to show you yet, so this one I have borrowed from Coblands, where I bought the plant.
All these changes have made me look at this seating area with fresh eyes, this is an area I haven’t done anything with since I moved in 11 years ago, apart from getting rid of the grass that didn’t grow much anyway. I am thinking of getting one of those outdoor sofas and an armchair, and put my old garden bench and table on E-Bay. I would also like to have a chiminea, although my seating area is perhaps a bit too small for that. I have made some drawings, starting with getting the rest of the area paved so I can get rid of the gravel, and different solution for where everything can go. The sofa I am looking at is from Ikea and comes in modules so you can build whatever you like, 2-seater, 3-seater or corner sofa.
More paving and 3-seater sofa. The black dot in the corner is meant to be a chiminea!
3-Seater or corner, difficult to choose!
I have asked for help from my housing association with regards to the ongoing damage done to my fence by next doors rubbish and building material. I reported it on 28th September, 15th October and just recently, on 5th December. Still haven’t heard back from the person who is meant to help me with this issue, my Neighbourhood Manager. My last email was a bit sharper in tone than the two previous one so I hope something will happen now, but I get so tired of spending energy I don’t really have on issues like this – shouldn’t be necessary, that’s why they have a customer service centre at my housing association where "any housing or repair problem can be reported and taken care of on behalf of the tenants". Ha! I wish...
In the mean time I am dreaming about what my seating corner will look like once it’s finished, I have lots of plans and things I would have liked to do, and as I have written before here, some of these plans do require a rather substantial win in the Lottery, but failing that I could settle for something more modest, like what I have indicated in my drawings :-) Until next time, take care.