The elderly lady next door is of a combative and possibly unhinged frame of mind. She fights with all of her neighbours, indeed having started a few skirmishes with me on occasion. I’m too idle to scrap, unless the topic is of vital importance. So it was that Thistle Britches arrived at my gate with her eyeballs rotating, to tell me what him on the other side had said. Apparently he thought that the trellis she had attached to his wall had acted as a sail, contributing to the destruction of the crumbling edifice during the last storm. Mrs. B. said that she had to have a screen to give her privacy. I suggested that she sunbathe in the nude, then they wouldn’t look.
Mathiasella bupleuroides “Green Dream”
During one of the periods when Thistle wasn’t talking to me, her Eucalyptus tree died. I used to weed beneath its creaking overhanging branches, with one eye on the ground elder and the other looking up for parting timber. I presented a peculiar sight. I tried not to think about the Australian name for them as “widow makers”, since if a piece were to fall on you, your worries would be over. When we offered to pay half of a tree surgeon’s fee, she nearly took our hand off. My friend Gary the Buddhist repaired his fence without thought of touching up the resident next door. When the job was done, he complimented him on the lovely finish and offered Gary a lump of cash as his share. When this was politely declined, the neighbour put the money on the wall and said “Well, I’ll just leave this here then, it’s yours if you’d like to take it”. A nice way to tackle it, I thought that improved his karma considerably.
Aconitum napellus (monkshood)
All around us, the cherries in adjacent plots are flowering their socks off. The Japanese say that the blossom is three times beautiful, on the tree, in the air and on the ground. Since the ordinary brown boles are taking up someone else’s room, I get to enjoy the show at my leisure. It’s an old horticultural trick, to allow greenery beyond your fortifications to extend the sense of space. Beyond my bottom wall, they have an impenetrable barricade of greenery, including a magnificent Taxus baccata (yew). The whole lot forms a wonderful backdrop to my hardy perennials and I am most grateful. I keep an eye on some of my plants which have less than well mannered behaviour, since I don’t want to fall out with anyone.
When Attila worked in an office, I made him a cactus garden for his desk. After a few days, his fellow computer jockeys complained about the tiny airborne flies that plastered their monitor screens, committed hara-kiri in their coffee and zoomed up their nostrils at moments of high stress and heavy breathing. The compost gnats had hatched in the extra warmth and made their presence known as far as they could flap. Although appreciative of my gift, spouse smuggled the bowl full of bugs back home, without telling his compatriots who was to blame. I agree; keeping your mouth shut is a big part of keeping the peace.