Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The evolution of a fence...

My neighborhood is close to downtown Great Barrington and I've been told it's known as the 'Brooklyn' section, probably because it's just across the river from all the action and there are three bridges connecting at the north, middle, and south end. It is thickly settled with a high volume of foot traffic, especially in the summer as people like to walk the loop. A high percentage of my neighbors have dogs they walk by on the sidewalk, several times a day. Being a dog person, this makes me happy. So many cute pups! Plus, most people are really good about picking up after their dogs. There are even several biodegradable poop bag stations posted along the way - how wonderful is that? The first year we lived here, I had a problem with some dogs detouring off the sidewalk through my garden, however. When I mentioned 'most' people pick up after their dogs, certainly not all bother, unfortunately. Considering the sheer number of dogs in the daily parade, it amounted to plenty of dog crap in my front gardens. My solution was a low fence, made of curled rebar and grapevine. Simple and essentially at no expense. And it worked!

My gardens grew, and I realized I had another garden pest. People.
Here's what it looked like last July. I completely understand how very tempting it is to snag just a few daisies...why not? And I have a zillion daisies, so in a way, I really don't care. Daisies are perennials, so they pop for a few weeks, then they're gone for another year. My zinnias, tulips, cleome, and sunflowers are another story. They are just about all I have left to look at in the fall before everything is done for the season. But for some reason, passerby think it's okay to stock their vases with my zinnias. Or sunflowers, even. One girl in particular would show up with scissors in hand! She was nice enough to leave me a single bloom, and couldn't comprehend why I was angry - 'but they're soooo pretty!' as she went skipping off swinging her fresh bouquet...

 A friend advised, 'Don't get mad about it. You can't change people, so change how you react to people.' She was absolutely right. I do not want to spend my day opening my front door to ask people not to take any more flowers, like some crazy, life-size cuckoo clock. My fence had to evolve. This time, I made the fence a little higher and planted morning glories to climb and fill it. The picture below is the fence in the very early spring, last year. And it worked perfectly! No dog leavings, and no people taking. The expense was in the posts, but it was still minimal compared to the flowers I paid for and had stolen.

Now there's another glitch... The local DPW plows the sidewalks with a little machine, like one of those fun-looking bobcats. Last winter, this was not a problem and they navigated by my concocted fencing, no problem. This year I think they have a new machine, and even though this only the second time they have had to plow the sidewalk, the fence was on the losing end of the early morning battle.

Oh well, I will keep calm and carry on. First I will see if I can simply move it further away from the sidewalk for the rest of the winter. Then I will come up with a better solution..I have a friend who wants this fence redone in wrought iron for his front yard. Maybe I'll set up a forge behind the garage this summer and get my metalworking on. And then maybe I'll fill my front gardens with roses that flourish if the blooms are plucked by pedestrians, and are prickly enough in the winter to discourage canines...


  1. Your garden is an inspiration! It's a bummer about the fence, however. It's probably not worth the trouble (or possible) to take the grapevine down over the winter and store it, right? What about a flowering vine? You could string up some string between the posts and let the vine go nuts... in it's proper place of course...

    1. Thanks! The fence acted as a trellis last summer, covered with morning glories in 'Heavenly Blue', 'Grandpa Ott', 'Scarlet O'Hara', and a wild white version - all I'm sure will be back thias summer. Now I'm thinking about a higher version of the existing stone wall, level with the sidewalk, topped with wrought iron, and fronted to the sidewalk with roses.