Pied Beauty

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Warfare by Proxy

My next-door neighbor and I, to all outward appearances, are reasonable people.  We're both about the same age.  Our kids are about the same age.  We get along well.  We're Facebook friends.  Yet for six years, she and I have waged a fierce battle along our shared border.

Disputed territory, before we moved in
Immediately to the west side of my driveway likes a narrow strip of ground and a 6-foot wooden fence.  On the other side of the fence is another strip of ground and my neighbor's house.  She's got Star Jasmine planted on her side.  The people who owned our house before we did apparently fought the rampant vine with traditional lawn equipment: a greenish version of the scorched earth policy.  By the time we moved in, the vines had a big head start.

Passionflowers settling in nicely

I like vines too.  Especially vines that flower and are evergreen and attract pollinators.  So I fought back with passionflowers.  They ran all over the place, sprouting up to 10 feet away from the original plant.

The look I was going for.  Didn't work.

Not to be outdone, she planted a rambling antique rose that reaches over and tickles our garage.  Coincidentally, I chose this moment to plant a 'Climbing Old Blush' rose on our side of the fence.  The Chief Engineer will confirm that we were headed for mutually assured destruction.

Sweet Autumn Clematis.  Also too big.

We're in a sort of cooling-off period right now.  I've removed the 'Climbing Old Blush' and she's taken out a mulberry tree weedling that grew 15 feet in one year.  The freeze knocked the passionflowers off my side of the fence, but they've rooted over on her side.  I've planted the Sweet Autumn Clematis, which is only marginally less vigorous than the rose.  We both work on the jasmine whenever we can.

Trumpet Creeper. Don't try this at home.

I can't say where we're headed.  Trumpet Creeper?  Wisteria?  Honeysuckle?  Where's a good garden mediator when you need one?


  1. Oh, my! My neighbor planted red tip photinias (which I hatehatehateloathedespiseandhate) on his side of our shared fence line. My passionflowers are growing on them, which is the second best reason I can think of to keep growing Passiflora! The Fritillaries are the first, of course.

  2. Heavens, it's the War of the Roses, etc. there.

    Our neighbors cut up on their row of gorgeous old magnolia trees that separated us.I warned her that the lower branches hid the dead leaves. All we see now are messy piles of fallen brown magnolia leaves.

  3. My neighbor never comes around to the side of her house which is next to the side of my house. Several years ago she let me have full reign to plant whatever I wanted to in that area. There is no fence between the houses--I have lots of milkweed for the Monarchs there, Pipevines for some swallowtails, Shrimp plant which has yielded one crescent butterfly this year, more milkweeds and some roses. I put a brick border all around with a bunch of large stepping stones surrounded by pebbles. Looks great if I do say so myself. If I knew how to add a picture to this post I would do so.......