Friday, February 19, 2010

Behold: Another Thing of Beauty

This thing of beauty requires you to see the beauty of the negative space, of what isn't there instead of what is. Those of you familiar with the story of the Beast might have an easier time with this exercise.

On a miraculous day last November, the handyman for the rental house next door knocked on our door. He didn't introduce himself; at the time I didn't who he was. He muttered his only words: "Do you want me to cut down the hedge?"

I responded, "Um, yes. How much?"

He said, "$100."

I was going to jump on that offer until he added, "Split between you and the landlord."

I struggled to hide my glee and casually said, "Sure, I guess."

I had spent four months of my life taking down the first half of the Beast. For $50, I was going to have the rest of it removed. Sometimes there is a god.

While I knew $50 or even $100 was way too low a price, I felt little to no guilt for getting that deal. This handyman is the person responsible for so many of the crap repairs/details in our house. The owner of the house used to own and rent out our house. The handyman told us that he used to do all the maintenance at our house, which means he is responsible for many of the issues in our bathroom and throughout the house.
While four workers struggled to tame the Beast (and probably would have cursed the handyman if they knew how little he had sold them out for), I hid inside taking pictures. (The pictures are a bit wonky because of the old glass in the windows and the window screens.)They filled this trailer at least twice. This section of the Beast also included some actual trees that had been hiding in the hedge. That's how tall the hedge was.Not included in the removal was digging up the roots, but I still think I got a great deal.Now I just have to figure out some privacy screens. Someday I'd like to replace the fence in the backyard and enclose most of this otherwise wasted space. Yes, I can hear you laughing and wondering, "Has she even finished the bathroom project yet?" Um, no, but remember it's not my fault; it's the neighbor's handyman's fault.

In the Beast area that I had previously cleared I planted some bamboo muhly. For these muhly it was their last stop before the compost bin. None had performed well in varying degrees in shade, but I didn't want to purposefully kill them so I put them on Death Row. For some of these plants, this move was their third or fourth. (I'm finally learning that sometimes I really not solely responsible for my plants' underperformance. There really is something to that notion of the right plant in the right place.)Shockingly they lived and thrived, so much so that I realized I had planted them too close to the neighbor's driveway. The January freeze fixed that problem and now I am just waiting to see if they'll grow back. If they do, I'll move them a little further into our yard.

For now though I'm just enjoying the breathing space that the Beast's removal has provided and being grateful that I didn't have to remove it all.


  1. From your tweet I thought you were going to say that after all that sweat that your neighbor complained about the hedge being gone.

    A new blank slate is always a thing of beauty to these eyes.

  2. Generally I like hedges but the before story really does show this was a beast, Vertie!

    I sure hope you manage to get a privacy fence up to connect this potentially useful space to the main part of the back yard, letting you use all of your land up to the edge while preventing pets and small people from car traffic on the neighboring drive.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  3. Yea for negative space and helpful people! I did the same thing two years ago when I lucked into someone who tamed the beast I just couldn't handle. Gone in one day! Oh, so fabulous to have helpers. And I did the same thing: moved the plants on Death Row to the new sun & now they're thriving! Like your space, what a fabulous difference. Yea for helpers for $50! And I love your comment about saving CTG for Saturdays. Do you know, I stop everything at 4 p.m. to watch as a viewer. I suppose it's like being a grandparent: the hard work is over, just enjoy it. (and find 50 things I did wrong!).

  4. Negative space becomes a joy when an eyesore leaves the scene.

  5. Yippee- somewhere there is a gardening god who takes pity on us, especially on pregnant women who want gardening chores done.

  6. I do remember the tale of the Beast and your great luck in getting it removed. So nice to have all that empty palette to think about and plan for when you're up at 2 am. And you know, YOU don' t have to do it -- replacing a fence is usually a job you can find some guys to do for you, too! I know some guys if you need some.

  7. Ah yes, good karma for you for your Green Corn project and other good deeds, and hard work payback karma for the crappy handyman - it all works out, doesn't it? What a great feeling to have that freedom of space. Sometimes you want to just leave it open without anything for a while just do enjoy the view, don't you? I have my own beast of Ligustrum hedges...someday....

  8. Good that the Beast is finally gone! Give yourself time to rejoice it being gone, then you can figure out what to do with that space.

  9. What a bargain-$50 and what a great new space for some creative planting- if you ever have the time again! Being of English heritage I would be putting up a fence. Maybe a post a rail on which to grow roses. So much easier to think of a plan for someone else, as I struggle with a planting design for the front of my house.