Tuesday, May 19, 2009

When Life Gives You Blight . . . Hire a Handy Man

It's not hard to find beauty in my garden. You can find good bones (two massive redwood trees in one side yard, a redwood and magnolia on the other side, plenty of mature fruit trees in the back yard) and some interesting meat on those bones.





This year, I've spruced up one of the formerly unused side yards into a favorite retreat; interspersed heirloom tomato plants among the inedibles in the back yard; added two raised beds and created some showy arrangements in urns and pots. Things are shaping up nicely.



But, among the beauty, it's equally easy to find the blight. One of the chief offenders is tucked into a corner, right next to the grape arbor, the pea tee-pee and the raised beds. That's where our neighbor, whose art studio is right on our property line, decided to install an A/C unit.



I was furious when this unit suddenly encroached into our yard a couple years ago, but I didn't say a word. When it comes to complaining, I have two die-hard rules: Don't do it when you're angry, and always offer a solution or a resolution. I couldn't get over my anger and I didn't have a solution, short of demanding that the neighbor yank the A/C unit and install it on a wall that juts into her own yard. And, since she lives on a different street, I haven't seen her for more than three years.


But lately that infringing A/C has been getting my goat - partly because I'm spending more time in that neck of the garden and partly because I'm hosting a garden wedding reception for a friend in June.

I considered a trellis, but it will take a full year to be lush enough to disguise the offending unit, which is, ironically, a Carrier. I thought about surrounding the unit with reed fencing, but that just seemed tacky.

I've come up with an idea for a decorative and functional garden element that conceals the eyesore.

I'm going to mount a strategically placed door and spray coat the inner panels in chalkboard paint. I can leave messages for the gardener or corny, inspirational thoughts. ("Friends are the flowers in the garden of life." "Thoughtless neighbors are the thorns in life's garden.") I'll hang a succulent wreath and seek out a rustic mailbox for storing my gardening gloves, clippers and chalk. A couple of hooks may come in handy too.

I've also written a note to my back-door neighbor asking her to share part of the modest project cost. (Wish me luck.)

How's that for turning blight into beauty? (I'll post pictures when the project is done in a couple of weeks.)

62 comments:

marinik said...

I think it's a brilliant idea, I still can't get over the fact that you haven't seen your neighbor for 3 years, she doesn't seem very friendly, good luck, can't wait to see the end result.
have a great weekend :)

Ronni Gordon said...

Your garden looks beautiful. And your idea is great. Hope it works out.

Sue G said...

Lush. No, I'm not making a reference to the amount of alcohol you imbibe. I am commenting on the wonderful photos of your garden. Lush. Colorful. Amazing.

I don't know why you ever come in the house.

Carolyn Jung said...

That's not a very considerate neighbor. Despite that, your garden is gorgeous! I wish mine was that big, and had such lovely foliage. But then again, I'm a terrible gardener. So even if I had a huge yard, I would fear for the plants in it. ;)

altadenahiker said...

"When it comes to complaining, I have two die-hard rules: Don't do it when you're angry, and always offer a solution or a resolution."

I quoted you today. That line is so danged smart.

Susan C said...

Thanks, Marinik. It's not so odd as it may sound that I never see this neighbor. Our lot is wider than the lots on the street behind us, so the thoughtless neighbor only adjoins our property by about 10'. And that 10' is blocked by the studio (which wouldn't comply with today's code of 25' from the property line.)

Thanks, Ronni. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sue, LOL I do talk a lot about imbibing (champagne, sangria, Harvey Wallbangers) on this blog. I do prefer to be outdoors and my wifi even works out there.

Carolyn, Oh, I could take some photos that would give you a whole different perspective! But it is big by So. Cal. standards. One of the reasons I love Altadena.

AH, Really? You quoted me? Now let's see how good that advice is after I deliver the letter to TN (thoughtless neighbor).

pasadenaadjacent said...

I had too threaten legal action against my neighbors.

Petrea said...

AH is right, that's good advice. Unless you have PA's neighbors, of course.

Say, Susan, your garden's getting pretty close to perfect. I know how you love gardening, so if you need a project there's a yard at my house that could use your expertise.

Lori Webster said...

Fabulous solution to an eyesore, Susan!

You know, you would've been a great candidate for inclusion in Great Impressions, the premier online decorating group....but it disbanded in February (MSN stopped doing groups). Darn it! You should join Facebook and friend me....many decorators from the group are there - and we talk food, too!

Nancy said...

Susan, your garden is in full bloom. It's beautiful. When I was at your house last, I thought it was amazing, but it has transformed even more! Great Job. Love the idea of the door and mailbox. The trellis would work too but as you've already thought it out, it would take a while to be adorned with foilage. You are a gifted gardener among so many other things and have great ideas. I always love how you think outside the box! Keep it up girl!

Marcy said...

I love your garden even with the neighbor's AC unit. That was rude of them to put that there without asking your thoughts on it first. Can't wait to see your creative little plan when you are done, I think it will be very nice. I also agree that the neighbor should help with the costs. Keep us updated! xo~

Paula L. Johnson said...

If your neighbor's house is anything like mine, she may have had few options for the A/C placement.

Those window units are usually good for just one room and she may have wanted to cool the bedroom without having the air hitting her on the face.

Yeah, it's ugly. But give the neighbor the benefit of the doubt.

Susan C said...

PA, Really? Threatening law suits is just what I'd like to avoid, but I know it's necessary at times.

Petrea, Oh, still so far from perfect. I don't know if I'll ever come close.

Lori, That Great Impressions group sounds like it would have been fun.

Thanks, Nancy, This is definitely the garden's best season.

Marcy, I can't wait to see the finished project either.

Paula, Oh, I think I 've given the neighbor the "benefit of the doubt." I'm usually guilty of giving too much benefit. As others have pointed out, she should have said something because regardless of WHY she did it, there was no doubt that she knew that it was jutting into my yard.

Now I'm just a little mad at myself for not saying something right after it happened, but I think I may have been slaying a bigger dragon at the time.

Pam said...

I think it sounds like a fantastic solution - she better chip in. I would be so happy if my garden/yard looked like yours...it's beautiful!

drppanda said...

Gardening relieves stress and brings freshness to mind.But flowers should not be plucked.That makes me furious.

Susan C said...

Pam, Thanks. Just realized that the wedding and reception is just a week and a half away. Still so much to do.

Dr. Panda, What did I miss? Flowers should not be "plucked"?

Piper Robert said...

Another year, another wedding.

Perfect setting for a wedding, from someone who speaks from experience.

I can take care of the air conditioner problem when Bonnie and I visit.

Pam said...

Your garden is so pretty! The door sounds like a fantastic idea.

Susan C said...

Robert, Darn, I would have loved to take you up on your offer to "install" the door in September, but I need to have it done before June 6. You and Bonnie will get to write on the door.

Thanks, Pam!

Jean Spitzer said...

This sounds like an excellent solution. Good luck with the neighbor; hope she's feeling neighborly.

Cafe Pasadena said...

An Art Studio in a residential area? Don't you just love those AltaDena style artists!

foodcreate said...

Your Garden looks so beautiful!
~Thank you for sharing~

And you can visit me if I can visit you:)

Welcome~
foodcreate.com

The Food Librarian said...

I hope the coverage works out and your garden grows harmony. Your garden looks great!!!

Unseen Rajasthan said...

The Garden Is So Beautiful...I Loved The Photos..Yours Is A nice Blog..

Dino said...

Can't help but admire how calm and gracious you're being in relation to that hideous eyesore in an otherwise lovely garden.

All the best with your plans.

Recessionista Genie said...

Despite the annoying A/C unit, your garden is gorgeous! I love the candle chandelier, too. It looks like a beautiful spot for a wedding. I had my own reception in a conservatory (pics on my blog), but a garden like this would be a dream.

I like the chalkboard idea. I've known several people who had similar blights to hide inside and outside their homes, and your solution seems as good as any.

Julie said...

I think your garden is gorgeous. I wish i had the room to do that (and the right weather) but right now, we're based in West Texas where it's too hot and dry for anything except rocks.

I love the idea of an old mailbox to store gardening supplies. It's a great whimsical touch.

christina viering said...

Love the chandelier!

Selbermachen said...

I love your garden! Awesome!

Dodorock said...

Enchanted blog. As it is blog of note it may host a huge virtual reception not before long.

Anonymous said...

You need to get a life and leave people alone.

Montag said...

A much better idea than strategically placing the composting pile beneath the offending unit.

It will be very Alice In Wonderland, or Secret Garden-ish, and - I think - will add another dimension of magic.

Edie Abbot said...

I really like the chandelier in the garden, i have always wanted to do that...if you ever have time check out my blog
http://granenamorado.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Make sure you tell your neighbor that you are currently permitting the encroachment but reserve the right to tell her to remove the AC unit. If it is there long enough, she'll end up with an easement and legally she won't have to remove it. This should take many more years, but you need to keep it in mind.

Also, who the hell puts an AC unit in a wall into someone else's yard?!?! Freaky.

onan said...

Nice :-)

Tiffany Chase said...

Beautiful pictures!

cari uang di internet said...

so beautyfull, you have nice job

Chrissy said...

sounds like a cool plan, in fact i was thinking one of those bifold doors.. that way u can make it kinda rustic looking and still hang stuff from it.

Susan C said...

Just want to thank everyone for your support for this little "project" and your delightful comments. I'm sorry that I'm not answering each one of you individually right now.

The handy man is coming this afternoon to put up the door. I can't wait! And no word from the neighbor in response to the letter I dropped off. Oh, well. I've had my anger spell, and now I'm ready to let it go and enjoy the "secret door."

Must share something funny a friend wrote. She said that I should take the door and install it into the neighbor's studio and have my own little guest house. He he!

Lady Magick said...

Beautiful yard. Too bad about the AC.

www.leisurefly.com
www.reliablefreebies.blogspot.com

colibri said...

What a nice blog ! I like your writing style and "I love to read, write and talk about food, and mostly...", sorry but it's exactly le theme of my blog... in french ! I like gardening too, in Brittany... So many reasons to read you ! Bonjour et amitiés de Paris, France
colibri "cuisine(s) et dépendance(s)"

Anish said...

The easiedt thing which can be done to get rid of the AC would be hang a wrtting board and write some message relating ot the event which u plan to host in your garden.... i Hope this do work :)

Cheers,
Anish

p.s. But the garden looks amazing

JCK said...

Good luck with the project!

HerbalWitch said...

Hi! I'm new to blogger and had to comment on your blog.First of all The Title is attention grabbing-LOVE it! Also, have you heard from your neighbour yet?

bigcub62 said...

This is one of the main reasons people buy property with lots of acres or move way out into the country. Where no one is around for miles. As far as friendly neighbors go you are living a charmed life if you live in a city and you have any at all!.

Legiman said...

I like your garden. It's good.

mely-skaa said...

You have such a gorgeous garden

HappyMedium said...

Love the garden, and love the candelier/chandelier. Which is it?

The A/C unit situation is pretty sad, especially considering there are now modern advancements, like floor a/c units, that work as well, and are very reasonably priced.

Yes, this is something I don't get, but perhaps the neighbor is not so savvy that she did any research before making the purchase. Some people, like my eccentric father-in-law, think that the old tried and true stuff beats anything new.

I feel for you. Keep in mind, I once lived next door to--and was friendly with--Pasadena neighbors who for the entire 12 years had dogs barking around the clock for any reason, and for no reason whatsoever.

Hinkley said...

Your garden is absolutely stunning! Good work :)

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Hilary Cable said...

Love your garden - it's wonderful!

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