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Well, my name is Michelle and I have never had a blog before so this is also a first for me as well as trying to garden. I guess this is a diary of sorts…please correct me if I am wrong, I shan’t be offended! But let me start at the very beginning, which is a very good place to start (I think Mary Poppins sang something like that once…)

I am now 60, soon to be 61 and new to gardening – in fact, I love plants and looking at lovely gardens, and I am a vegetarian, but I just don’t seem to have the ‘knack’ to grow things as mostly they die when I try to grow or keep anything and that’s upsetting to me AND the plants – it was my son who used to plan and plant and grow things here, right from a young boy and has the ‘green fingers’ in our family – a natural at it you’d say and back in 1992 when we first moved into our little end terrace two-up two-down Edwardian workers cottage with it we inherited a long narrow garden 150 foot or thereabouts by roughly 15 foot wide, two slate tiled brick out-houses (one the a coal store and the other an outside lav) and this lush and green swathe, which was mainly lawn – and not at all matured. The willow tree next door to the right of me back then was tall and mostly in their garden, but over time grew even taller and bowed its graceful tresses over our garden becoming a natural ‘green’ parasol in the summertime giving us dappled shade and a circular fringe which eventually reached the ground but was also a source of kindling for my open coal fire in the winter time after the autumn storms had pruned and bought them down and yes, I asked my then neighbour if I could keep these spindly fingers and whippy branches for my coal fire and as I was then on benefits (a single parent not of my choice but by my ex-partner’s making) ‘every little helped’ keeping us warm indoors.

During those early years when I was retraining, I managed to get part time work and scrimped and scraped, went off to college to do a City & Guilds teacher training course stages I and II, whilst I taught Adult Education classes in watercolour for beginners in my village on a Wednesday evening, after previously finishing a full time course, an E.R.A.C. Diploma in Fine Arts, Crafts & Design, I managed to purchase an ex-display 8×4 greenhouse from Homebase for my then 13 year old son Christian to grow seedling plants in as well as a decent fork and spade to dig the proposed veggie patch up the end. Together we battled rampant ground elder, goose-grass (cleavers), an army of invading ivy, the mother tree elder (which is in folklaw unlucky to cut down so we left her and has since died of natural causes) and 6 foot high mean and viscous stinging nettles that had an underground network of roots that when we tried to dig the ground over thought we’d hit the other side’s electric cables! So bright and thick and yellow were these roots they almost fooled us into thinking we had B.T’s cabling in our back garden! I can verify this was not really the case and these nettles still grow to that height even today up there, so this then later after Christian left home in 2000 became my wild garden and my compost heap of grass and bush cuttings grew and grew up under the gnarled branches of my ancient greengage tree. What a venerable old lady she was and bountiful sweet treats she gave us when the weather conditions had been right. Every August it was a race against wasps and blackbirds to grab the feast she offered, but we always left the windfalls for other creatures to enjoy.

I had to battle this garden on my own after my son left home to marry and live ‘up North’ where he met and married my lovely daughter in law, Claire and decided to stay up there near her family. He lived in Rochdale until earlier this year when the neighbours there became abusive and threatening so he and Claire have moved and are now in Todmorden. When he lived in Rochdale Christian even won an award for his little garden given by the Council in a competition they ran for the best kept small garden sort of ‘Rochdale in Bloom’ kind of thing. I was so proud of him. Now he lives in a beautiful place nestled in a valley right near the moors, the wild places I love so much, and has the canal running at the back of his property, but is alas without a garden. They had only just moved in this summer when a few weeks later Hebden Bridge and of course, Todmorden were flooded with our awful wet stormy summer and it was shown on the BBC National News. But that’s a different story. I am planning a trip to see them soon as I haven’t been able to for three years when my mother passed away and Christian came home here for her funeral that February. So a lot has happened in the time my son left the nest to live his own life. But the garden here has been my sort of wild life sanctuary with its birds and squirrels and sparrowhawk whilst I have been living alone. I have managed to keep the grass (what is left of it) mowed, although getting the mower started is sometimes a feat in itself as it’s nearly as big as me (I am by the way tiny…at just 4 foot 10) and my arm reach is not a long as the pull cord so I have to shorten it!

I had planted honeysuckle along the boundary on the right a few years ago (and where my recent trouble has started with the erecting of new fence). I planted it because that is the name of my home, ‘Honeysuckle Cottage’ and the one old plant I did inherit was very old indeed, woody and massive on top it died when the storms hit one October time after I’d been here a few years when my end gable plaster also came away in a huge hunk leaving the chestnuts lathes way up there beneath bared to the elements until it was repaired on my house insurance. As I say, I lost the old honeysuckle recently when an old fence panel came down and broke, it snapped it off at the base in its dead wood. It never recovered and so further along the wire and post fence boundary I planted another in its memory, which is flourishing all across my lawn as the new fence panel that’s gone up it got torn down off the old fence and the old tree stump left over from a Landelii that was taken down three years hence. Now it sprawls languidly across my lawn instead of up.

I also planted a heavenly scented jasmine on the end of my brick outhouse facing the sunrise when my son was still living here – that has matured now and flourished and taken over the the outer wall in a fragrant heady bower where wild dog roses lace between it and ramble up through the canopy to face the sun and the jasmine sneaks curling tendrils up under the slate-tiled roof inside the old brick shed where I house my petrol mower and dusts the beam up there with a sprinkling of white star-like flowers. Directly opposite the jasmine on the edge of a half moon shaped border that my son dug out we planted a buddlia, the purple flowered ‘butterfly bush’. At the opposite end of the two brick sheds and nestled in the gap between the end of my downstairs bathroom’s outer wall and the brick outhouses sits my wooden shed that used to be an 8′ × 6′ heated cat house and was converted into my art/print room when I moved – this shed has survived two house moves. I brought with me when I originally moved over this way back in 1988 and moved it again when I came to live at Honeysuckle Cottage and it now houses my Farley proofing press (for my lino cuts) and now my bicycle as well. This shed-cum-art room too now wears a massive Afro-headed crown of ivy, a plant which comes from the neighbours on the left of me and has a main stem on my side of that boundary too as thick as a man’s well-flexed arm so trying to cut that down is impossible as it’s grown into the old wooden fence post there and on top of my shed it becomes a mammoth chore every couple of years or so to prune it back, but my neighbours that side ask me not to kill it off as it is now the roof to their brick outhouses and keeps the weather out as most of their slate tiles are missing. Of course I wouldn’t willingly kill anything and so we have had a laugh about that one.

My garden used to be interesting on both boundaries, but since the beginning of September the relentless march of this wooden fence, like an army it marches on, right up to the very end on my right hand side stripping the land clean of everything that was growing there that was previously encroaching and bleeding into mine. I own neither boundary by my Title Deeds and at best the rather spidery, shaky ‘T’ mark on the right hand boundary on my Land Registry plan looks to me like a later added on ‘addition’. Rose, the old lady who passed away a few years ago and used to live next door to me on the left told me once when I first moved in that these gardens, our cottages back gardens were all open and that there was a right of way to cross over them to the well, which was situated two doors up from me in their back garden and also that property had what was then a brick built wash-house for the use of the whole run of our six terraced workers cottages, built for King’s seeds, and that it used to house the big copper built into the corner, (No, NOT a policeman), but a deep round copper-lined tub that used to have a fire grate under it to warm up the washday water – your early 20th century washing machine with its manual wooden ‘dolly’ agitator and the Sunlight Soap and washing soda! (Look these things up on line if you cannot imagine them!)

Now, I have to hope that the person who owns the property to my left does not sell up too as its rented on short term lets and the people there come and go every year or so. This is what used to happen too on my right in the house on that short run of terraced houses that once was the police station and local lock-up, which is causing me grief at the moment over the erection of a new fence. My ex-neighbour who was renting it was lovely, never a problem, always accommodating to not block me in or take my light helped take down the three massive 30 foot landelii that a former neighbour put in and let run riot. It opened up my garden to natural light and once more mine flourished, but she was given her marching orders when the property was unexpectedly sold to these new purchasers in August of this year and hence the ‘handyman’ moved in and has been there ever since erecting the fence, panel by panel daily and as of today is up there still putting in the last two 6 foot panels and I might add, he’s doing it from MY side of the boundary……never mind though, eh? In the process of its progress he has totally wrecked the wildlife balance here by taking down trees, (no, no Tree Preservation Orders – I checked with the Council) obliterated all the plants and shrubs that were forming the boundary along the old wire and post fence (now also gone); following orders of the new young owners who aren’t even going to move in for a year. I do wonder what they have got to hide!

However, what I do have I have been using from the very start of this new boundary fence – my little camera, a 60th birthday present last November from my work colleagues. I have been taking pictures on it and some photos of him today on my land, even if he is a dot in the distance, I do have evidence of trespass. If I decide to use it, it may cost me my home in the end as I cannot prove now where the original boundary went, he has removed all signs of it and my greengage tree, there in neither a stump nor branch left on my side, unless of course, its now on HIS side of this blasted 6 foot eyesore. The only way I could prove anything is to maybe ask the owners of the property whose garden runs at right angles to ours to let me come into their garden, (which runs along the end of all our gardens) and allow me to take some photos over their low privet hedge to see if my tree stump is in his garden now. Then I will know if he has pinched my land or not. But at the end of the day I wonder, really, is it worth it, all the hassle and legal the costs involved, and I should know these will be expensive, I do work for a Company Solicitor in the biggest House Building firm in the country in the legal department…at least when I go back to work on Monday I can ask her for some free legal advice. In the end it comes down to the principle of the thing. And the fact that I wasn’t asked and if the willow tree is taken down he’d have to come onto my land to do it as one of its main branches goes the whole width and some more across my garden. The squirrels drey is up there too, which is a shame as they’d have to move house although there are still some trees left around in other peoples gardens, but I’d also have nothing left on which to hang my bird feeder and that, Dear Reader, is a real crying shame….

More blog posts by dixie2111

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Hi Michelle ... Welcome to GoY.
Interesting to read your blog.

I hope you find GoY helpful in redesigning your garden to accommodate your neighbour's new fence.
It might help to look at the alphabet below, letter S in the GoYpedia, to get ideas for plants which are okay in the shade. Good luck :o)

25 Oct, 2012


Welcome to GoY ...
Well you've almost given us your life story :o) It was interesting to read.
You're the same height as my mother was. She was only 4 ft 10 inches too :o)
I'm sorry to hear you've had that problem from your neighbour. Not a nice person I don't think ...

The width of your garden should be recorded on your deeds, so it can be measured from the other boundary, and then you'll know if some of your land has been taken.

I like the name Honeysuckle cottage :o)

25 Oct, 2012


Love the name of your cottage. I want to call our 1910 villa a romantic name like that, & we have a lot of honeysuckle growing along the driveway. However, my OH has balked at even the thought of that, so I've had to settle for "Hillcrest" as our house sits at the top of a gentle hill. Sorry to hear you have been having problems with your neighbour. It's horrible when that happens. We sold our previous house because our elderly male neighbour was being horrible to our puppes ....he would entice them over to the fence & then pour buckets of water over them. Did the same to our cats if they went on his property, & then our beautiful 11 month old cat went missing with no trace of it anywhere. The following year my beloved 13 year old Burmese girl went missing too, & ten days later he came knocking at my door to tell me he had found her dead in one of his sheds ....but we had already checked his sheds with him when she first disappeared. I was so heart-broken, that we put the house on the market within days & I have kept my remaining two cats indoors ever since. It's a good idea to have a look in Goypedia & also at members' photos of their garden. You will get a lot of ideas & it will help you to think about the style of garden you want & which plants you really like & are suitable. So many beautiful gardens on GoY. I am creating a garden, with the help of my OH, on our quarter of an acre section, which is mainly just lawn. I get lots of ideas from this group & I am sure you will also. Welcome to GoY!

25 Oct, 2012


Welcome from me too Michelle. Nice to read all about you and your son.
Good luck with what ever you choose to do.
I'll just warn you in advance this site is addictive on the plus side there are so many nice friendly members :)

25 Oct, 2012


Welcome to Goy Dixie, I have also read your original question, boundary issues can be very costly and if I believe correctly, they can drag on for a long time, I do understand your anger at the way you have been ignored, common courtesy alone should have told the people responsible to let you know what was going to happen and also ask permission to come into your property to do some of the work, they should also have asked about removing the tree as it was on your property.
Onwards is the way to go, look upon it as a chance to start again in that area, you have a posh new fence for free and have the chance to plant whatever takes your fancy, you will find lots of ideas if you browse the photo`s and blogs, as Terra has already said Goypedia will show loads of ideas and suitable plants for shady areas also climbers, you might just want a border, there are lots of things you can do......

25 Oct, 2012


Hi Michelle, I enjoyed reading your blog and understand your bewilderment at the new neighbours fence. Sadly fashions change even in the garden and nowadays people want high wooden fences and privacy, although now it is mostly limited to 2 meters and no longer the dreaded Leylandii as you know from experience!
Sadly for your own sake I think you have to let this go or it will take over your life! I do hope you can come to terms with this big change in your environment, after so many years of openness it must seem quite enclosed to you.
We will look forward to you sharing your garden photos with us as you plant along the new fence and it softens and become less intrusive. Perhaps as part of the healing you could plant a couple of trees?

25 Oct, 2012


Oh, what a lovely warm bunch of people you all are...thank you all for your warm welcomes and your comments and advice, which I shall of course take up and I am so sorry Dwyllis to hear your story, you must have been absolutely beside yourself with worrying - I know I would have been and you were lucky enough to escape this person's wickedness in the end, but what a cost you and your poor pets paid!... what pity you couldn't have proved anything and prosecuted or reported him to the R.S.P.C.A. Karma has a way of paying back the deeds we do threefold like for like...I hope he gets what he deserves.

I will do that Terratoonie and thanks for pointing the way I have no clue where to start sometimes and this is one of those times! ha ha. Start at 'S'....;^)

Hywel, many thanks for that, I will check my deed plan again but its pointless now its done, unless I want to take the civil court action route and I cannot financially afford that at the moment and think I'd rather spend a little money on the garden putting it to rights for the wildlife and sorting it out than at a Solicitor's office and court... :^)

Scottish - are you in Scotland at all? I love the highlands and the islands and have been tempted to uproot myself many times and go live up there on one of the islands and become a beachcomber! lol thanks for your warning - I will probably become addicted as you say! No hope for me there, then!

Lincslass - my thoughts exactly! I am looking at the positives in all the negatives. My glass is half full - and I do now have a blank canvas, (Pity I won't be allowed to paint some murals on it! lol) but, I can paint another picture with plantings so I feel rather encouraged to do just that, and I would like to plant some hedgerow shrubs, like blackthorn, (for the sloes - sloe gin! yum!) hawthorn, (for the birds and haws) and dog roses (for the hips - rosehip syrup). Whether they would tolerate a north/north-easterly direction I will have to check that out first though, but its a start! Many thanks everyone for reading my ramblings! (and sorry if I have forgot to mention anyone above....Love Michelle xx

25 Oct, 2012


The Land Registry are a Government controlled authority.
If you ask them they should come and inspect all the properties, and measure up the gardens. If that fence is in the wrong place they can order the man to move it.

26 Oct, 2012


Just remembered. ( It was 30 years ago.) I bought a terraced house like yours Michelle. A week later a young man came to my back door. Said he was from The Land Registry. Took me down the garden. Told me my neighbour's boundary ended against her concrete path, and the wooden boundary fence had been put in 6 feet onto my land.
I didnt want any trouble, so said it didnt matter.
Eventually this fence rotted and fell down.
So I then told her about this young man. Said the 6 foot width x the 40 foot length was my garden, her concrete path was her boundary. She said it didnt matter, I could have it.
Being older and wiser now, I realise that I should have asked the Land Registry young man to go and deal with her, as he had the authority to do so.

26 Oct, 2012


I remembered something else. Years ago I was chatting to a young woman on a ramble. She said she worked in The Land Registry Office. I asked her what she did.
She said " Oh, we do all the property searches. Solicitors charge house purchasers for this, but they send it all to us to do. "
The message is Michelle, dont go to a Solicitor over this boundary fence issue. He/she will charge you.
You are paying Council Tax. You are paying for The Land Registry Office staff already.
Go to them.

26 Oct, 2012


Thank you Dianebulley, Wow, what a story. I don't think he's taken any of my land, I'm not really sure - just that he'd taken down my old dead tree and that the line of the fence looks straight, but yes, maybe I will try the Land Registry before I start any replanting adjacent to it. Thank you for your advice. :^)

26 Oct, 2012


Hi Drc726, yes it is rather hard on my old eyeballs to look at something so in-your-face and no escaping it and I understand the need for privacy, but I am not a nosey neighbour so they need not have worried about that issue and I have moved on a little since my blog rant! lol I can see the positives in the negatives and I have been out this morning to my local garden centre to see what they have in stock. Two lovely assistants walked me around and told me to take photos of the climbing plants that would tolerate solid shade, which of course it now casts as per my photo shots, and when I enquired about replanting another greengage they said it would be okay. I also enquired about more honeysuckles and jasmines (what a sensory riot that would make for the noses! Eh?) and again the garden centre had varieties there that would do very well in my garden, so more wide grins from me. I wanted also to put something back for the trees that had been hacked down next door and for the wildlife whose homes had gone and asked the assistants about our British native shrubs, bushes, and smallish trees, like my very favourites, blackthorn, hawthorns and rosa rugosa all planted for their fruits. I have a narrow garden at 15 foot width, which is a pity and this fence makes it appear even more so now and as far the law goes I cannot paint it without the owners' permission (white would have been nice and reflected light back into my garden, but I wont even go there asking!) so just maybe with blackthorn's winter/spring froth of lacy white flowers that would do it for me! :^) the red of the hips and haws in the autumn and winter will help feed the wildlife and give me some pleasure in making jams, syrups and sloe gin!

26 Oct, 2012


Welcome to GoY Dixie, lots of ideas on here, hope you enjoy : )

26 Oct, 2012


Yes Dixie. I live in Scotland. No where as gorgeous as the highlands and islands though. I live on the very outskirts of Edinburgh. Our gorgeous capital city.
I don't think you are alone in wanting to relocate to an idyllic Scottish Island

26 Oct, 2012


I am pleased we have all been able to help.
Everyone has problems to overcome.
Using the right plants in the right way according to the right weather will bring you the pleasure you need from your garden.

27 Oct, 2012

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