Readers may remember that it all started with the removal of the hated Bradford pear, which punched quite a hole in this border, but we gardeners call that an opportunity to plant something better. Like the 5 highly recommended 'Green Giant' arborvitaes newly planted here and still flying their orange tags in the before photo. I can see you all smirking at the notion of "screening" trees lined up in a row, but here's the deal. In a Combined Border you don't have to treat them like cadets; they can be massed naturalistically on both sides of the property line. How cool is that? But that's only the beginning.
My neighbor leapt at the suggestion that we work together to redesign our joint border - because when you see it from our decks, it's one border, ya know - and then the fun really began. Well, I may be under-remembering how much work it was but the adrenalin was definitely flowing. I even got to use my bright yellow (not clear) spray paint to create a nice curvy line on her side to match the one on mine. I brought the border out to meet up with the huge old stump in her lawn, then moved another, movable stump from somewhere else to join it and act as focal points.
Next, I replanted all of her shrubs and small trees I'd moved to my holding garden for the duration, and when they didn't fill up the newly drawn border, I added extras from my own overcrowded garden, a process that'll probably never end. Already, since this supposedly "after" photo was taken, the border's acquired Solomon's seal woven in amongst the arborvitaes, and a stepping stone path for easy commuting between the two halves of our joint garden. One particular empty spot that I deemed in need of a full-grown spirea was miraculously filled with - funny thing - a full-grown spirea given away by someone on the local gardening Yahoo group. (And if you don't have one where you live, why not?)
So after I'd totally had my way with someone else's property, what was the effect on neighborly relations? Let me answer that by first recalling the prior owners and the poison ivy-infested jungle that was their back yard. The worst was actually inside, where the couple worked as voodoo practitioners, complete with clients arriving with lists of enemies, an elaborate temple for worship, and the keeping and sacrificial slaughtering of various animals. FOR REAL. Yeah, when we talk about ethnic diversity in this town, we're so not kidding. So when this pretty, cheerful public interest lawyer bought the place, moved in and started cleaning up, I knew I'd gotten lucky.
Turns out she tells me she feels lucky, too - and also that her enjoyment of life has been enhanced by having such a pretty garden. Nice pay-off, that one. Then she asked how she could continue the look across the rest of her property and is proceeding forthwith to make it all happen. Best of all, I don't have to fear for my cats' lives anymore.
[The photos were taken from my deck, with the property line running down the center just to the right of my flowering viburnums. More photos to follow as the border develops.]