Gardening; Take a fence but not my shrubsBy Linda Fort
August 12, 2011
A man is coming today at the behest of my neighbour to take down the fence along the length of the garden.
My neighbour has been working hard to clear his garden and renewing our shared fence is the next step.
Putting in a new fence is a very good thing and I am delighted it is being carried out from his side of the garden and not mine.
However, I am slightly dreading what I will come home to this evening.
There are five shrubs roughly trained against the fence and a wide border of perennials in front of them. The fruit garden, such as it is, is planted next to the fence at the bottom of the garden.
It happens that I am on a late shift today so I should see some of the work begin and then come home too late to do any repairs tonight.
Every urban or suburban gardener faces this kind of thing from time to time.
Robert Frost quotes the saying “good fences make good neighbours” in his poem Mending Wall, and he questions whether there really needs to be a barrier between neighbours.
From the sound of Frost’s poem which describes mending the wall, he has extensive land rather than just a garden. After all, he mentions an orchard.
When you live on an estate with a small garden the dividing line between properties is very important and you breach it at your peril, so if there is any damage to my lolling, climbing, carousing plants when I come home this evening, I will repair it with a cheerful heart knowing that now there is a good fence where once there was a wonky one.
I will wait to fix wires to the posts until I am sure the concrete is properly cured, so as not to damage it when I tap in the U-shaped tacks.
And I’ll be glad that my neighbour will have given me a lovely new fence.
After all, over the years I have experienced what happens when poorly maintained fencing blows down in the wind.
There used to be a considerable wind tunnel created by the houses at the bottom of my garden.
When the wind was from the north it used to build for several hundred yards through the canyon of housing and crash against my back wall, creating a vortex and taking down fence panels in its wake.
Over the years I have grown a natural windbreak at the bottom of the garden with shrubs and trees. They’re now reaching about 10 feet and have solved the problem.
Those shrubs and a huge ivy on the other side are now holding up a pretty rotten fence that I suppose will fall down one day.
“Good fences make good neighbours.” I think Robert Frost’s neighbour had a point.