Vigilante Garden Justice

An open letter to my condo association because hell hath no fury like a tree spirit whose trees have been abused.

My husband and I are first time condo owners. When we moved in a few years ago flushed with pride at having worked so hard to purchase our first home, I never imagined we would have to deal with people running rough shod over our privacy the way they have. At best the association has been unprofessional and at worst completely rude and out of line. I admit we are young and inexperienced but the simple fact that we are living breathing human being entitles us to more respect that we have received thus far.

We inherited some nice landscaping with our condo but not being avid gardeners we have clearly not maintained it you standards. I’m not sure what those standards are since no has bothered to communicate them to me. People prefer to just solve what they judge to be problems on their own, a sort of vigilante garden justice if you will. My front rose-bush was cut back without so much as a heads up a couple falls ago. This morning I came home from dropping my husband off at work to find Dick cutting back my maple tree. The rose-bush I let slide because I am young and used to people disrespecting me due to my age and lack of expertise. Also the person who did so had previously been kind enough to offer gardening advice, and was the only member of the association to introduce herself to us, so I consider her actions a wash. I was planning to trim it but I would not have trimmed it so far.

It has not gone unnoticed that both these acts happened or were attempted while we were away from the house as if the people involved did not want to obtain consent or even to notify us. Maybe it is my lack of age an experience that deems this to be less than responsible adult behavior. Luckily for my tree I am home convalescing after contracting Lyme disease or the poor thing would have been hacked to bits.

Let me be perfectly, unmistakably clear. Pruning someone’s plants without asking is not a random act of kindness like shoveling someone’s steps. It is flat-out rude. Therefore I told him to desist. I happen to have strong spiritual beliefs about nature and our treatment of living things whether two-legged, four-legged or green and leafy. Furthermore, even with my lack of experience have read enough to know that you do not prune trees in the summer. Someone who doesn’t even know that you don’t prune unless the month ends in R has no business touching anything living.

Beyond the rudeness I am unsure why the height of my maple tree matters when it is against an old fence that abuts a less than visually stunning trailer park. It is not in the way of any mowing that needs to be done. I personally find it to be beautiful and doing exactly what it should be, growing. It is none of Dick’s business how tall I am planning to let it grow, although he made sure to ask while kindly offering to continue mutilating it. I will make a decision in a month when pruning is appropriate and not do the hack job he was performing on it. Maybe he could spend some of his abundant time trying to coax some life into my neighbor’s plots or better yet weeding them.

I am not aware if Dick is even a member of the board or if he holds any sort of position that entitles him to deal with these matters with his own two hands. As far as I know he is a nosy neighbor who creepily wanders the back common area whistling and apparently passing judgment on other people’s gardening choices. Perhaps he is not aware of property owner’s rights to “quiet enjoyment” but I will gladly look up the Maine statute and cite it for him. Personally, I think he needs to find better use of his time than snooping in his neighbors affairs and while it may be too late for him to learn not to touch other people’s things he should make the attempt since he should have learned that in kindergarten.

If he is a member of the board or worse the property manager, his actions are even more out of line, moving them from un-neighborly to unprofessional. He would be well advised to learn that although acting as incommunicado judge and executioner is faster, handling issues with politeness and decency is always time well spent. After all we live close to one another and we should prioritize accordingly. Also I’m not the only one whose landscaping needs attention but I don’t see him on his knees ripping the crab grass out of my neighbor’s plots which are similarly located on association property, although that would be an act of true kindness.

All my hurt feelings aside, I understand that I live in an associating with rules and expectations. If the board wants to give me instructions on how it would like our yard to be maintained, I will gladly comply with them. If you send me recommendations for height and width of my trees I will prune them when the time is appropriate to preserve the long-term health of the tree. My expectation is to be treated with respect as a resident of this community and a human being.


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