Saturday, June 24, 2006

Out of Crisis Comes Opportunity

As mentioned in my last post, we have a white picket fence around our front yard. It aged rapidly, despite attempts to keep it painted and repaired, so last year we invested in a rugged no-paint white plastic replacement fence. The purists in the crowd are probably groaning with the thoughts of fake wood, but I was fed up with continuing fence deterioration.

The replacement fence is working very well and will, for at least as long as we’re in this house, not need much maintenance. However, last summer our neighbors to the west, whose house is not much more than 15 feet from ours, decided to put up a plastic fence of their own. Unfortunately their idea of color selection is not even on the same color palette as ours; they chose a putty tan-gold-cum-baby-poop color that stinks, if a color can stink.

They also decided to install this lovely color in 6 foot high stockade type panels, which, of course does give them great privacy from our busy street and from us, their too close for comfort neighbors. When it was installed last summer, the fence encircled their back yard, leaving the areas between our front yards still bordered by our new white picket fence.

Old Fence
Originally uploaded by Rosellen's Flickr.

We assumed that that was all they were going to do with their fence projects, but early this spring, S, the adult male of the house, came out while I was digging and dropped a bomb.

“I have good news and I have bad news.”

I waited for the inevitable.

“The good news is that we got money back on our tax return. The bad news is that we’re going to put up the rest of the fence around our front yard.”

I’m never one quick to think on my feet. I have to ponder all of the options, think about them, and eventually come up with a reaction. My main reaction at that point was numbness. How in the world were we going to put up with our lovely fence backed by s….. colored fencing?

I told S that Dennis and I needed to talk about it and we’d get back to him about our reaction.

I have to tell you that Dennis, who is the colorist of the house, handled the next conversation with S masterfully. With furrowed brow he mused to the guy, “Well, I’m thinking that our white fence might not look all that great against a fence like yours. Maybe we could paint our side white?”

“Oh, I don’t know why not. That should work fine—and I’m sure it would be OK with C (woman of the house.)”

It didn’t take Dennis too long to figure out that, of course, plastic can't be painted—that’s why you get a plastic fence. It was a quick leap then to realizing that our beautiful one-year old white fence on the west side of our yard was going to have to be relocated and replaced by a white plastic 6 foot high stockade fence, not unlike our neighbors’, but certainly much kinder to the eye.

Several weeks ago the new fence was installed and I have to tell you that in the long-run, the whole crisis has turned into a blessing in disguise. First, I can go out in the front yard and dig and bend and do whatever undignified maneuver a plant calls me to perform without having to worry about how it looks to our neighbors. But best of all, the tall expanse of white fence is like a canvas, a backdrop to our plants; now we can see the hollyhocks, delphinium, lilies and nicotiana without having to pick them out from competing sights in our neighbors’ yard.

New Fence
Originally uploaded by Rosellen's Flickr.

Dennis and I have a bet going: I think that the neighbors won’t bother with putting up their ugly s… colored fence in front of ours; Dennis thinks they will. If I win, Dennis says he’ll go over and invite them to share in the cost of our newest fence. The man has guts.

3wk Zinnias
Originally uploaded by Rosellen's Flickr.

Zinnia Day

Zinnia Day
Originally uploaded by Rosellen's Flickr.

(Written on June 3, but only now posted due to my e-challenges.)

During my first Spring in this house, I paid a handyman to rip out all of the treacherous Barberry bushes that lined the front sidewalk and continued up the west border of the lawn. I also engaged Greenview, a local landscaping company, to design and put in plantings along the front foundation of the house. Now 14 years later, I still have remnants of four of the perennials/bushes that they installed.

Immediately after the Barberry bushes were hauled off, the handyman set about putting up a white picket fence encircling the front yard. I started digging up sod. My first project was behind the front border of the fence. Being the fierce gardener that I am, I double dug that bed and planted what was to become the yearly line of giant zinnias next to the fence.

Every Spring since, I’ve dug that bed, some years a little more thoroughly than others. I always dig in a little mushroom compost and shredded leaves and the soil seems to welcome the new seeds each year.

This year’s crop went in this morning, literally with the dawn’s early light. I’m including a picture of the bed as it looks now and the bed last year.

2002 Zinnias
Originally uploaded by Rosellen's Flickr.