Since I moved to Ashwood a few weeks ago, I’ve been feeling increasingly irritated by my next door neighbour. Not only has she made a series of pointed remarks about my hairstyle, but she’s also got a giant tree in her front yard that’s blocking the light to half my windows. I asked her directly (and politely, I thought) if she’d mind trimming it back, and she told me bluntly that she won’t be doing that because her son is against it.
I’ve never seen any evidence of this son, but I would be surprised if he turned out to be against quite a lot things that, conveniently, my neighbour herself can’t be bothered to deal with. This tree trimming business, though – it’s not that much to ask, is it? It’s not like I’m demanding that she stage a full-on tree removal. Services in Ashwood are many and varied, and I’m sure there’d be an arborist around who’d be happy to give this tree a trim at a reasonable rate.
In light of her unreasonable attitude, I’m beginning to form the conclusion that my neighbour just doesn’t like me. Either that or she’s like this with everyone. Regardless, I’ve still got this problem a lack of light penetration to the front section of my house. So, what are my options? Melbourne based tree pruning companies presumably won’t be that amenable to the idea of me paying them to work on my neighbour’s tree. What if I just told them it was my house? Would that be against the law?
Don’t worry; I’m not going to do that. But how can I convince my neighbour to arrange (let along pay for) the necessary crown thinning operation? Perhaps there’s some way of going through the council – I could lodge a complaint that her tree is diminishing my enjoyment of my property. This would probably be easier to do if the tree wasn’t in such great health, or was actually leaning over my fence (which it isn’t). She isn’t technically doing anything wrong.
I guess there’s always the possibility that I’m the cantankerous neighbour.
There are some nationalities that just have such a great reputation that I can’t believe they’d do anything truly terrible. Take Nepalese people, for instance. All the ones I’ve met have been lovely. Canadians are so polite. And then you get to Australians, who have this reputation as being a friendly sort who have barbecues and call each other ‘mate’, because everyone is just somebody else’s mate.
Then I get to Australia and…well, I think I always knew it was a normal place, with some friendly people and a small minority of not-friendly people. Now tradespeople…that’s where you find all of that stuff. I worked for a place in Caulfield that does tree removal and the people just seemed to be the salt of the Earth. Maybe something about ripping dead trees out of the ground just means you’re not left with much time for any sort of foolish negativity. It WAS a pretty awesome job, truth be told. So satisfying, going along to a place, setting up the equipment, ripping up those trees by their roots. It all sounded a bit…well, ‘evil corporation’ when I started. We’re ripping up trees! Making way for industry! Nye he he! Whereas it’s mostly just trees that are burrowing underneath the ground and ruining roads, or gigantic dead ones that are taking up space…or gum trees. Which, despite their reputation, can be pretty invasive and hard to get rid of.
I’ve bounced around trades over the years. I’ve never been one to put down my roots, so to speak. Maybe it’s just because I quickly learned to speak the language, but I always feel at home with that sort of person, even those who are covered in a veil of grouchiness. It’s always skin-deep. And if you lived in Oakleigh and needed tree removal, it’s not like a bit of morning grumblies is going to prevent the job from getting done.
My great uncle Boris has always been pretty handy on the ornamental arboriculture front – from pollarding and coppicing to grafting and espalier techniques, he does it all. On the more practical side of things, though, he seems to have a bit of a blind spot. For example, one of his trees if currently overhanging into his neighbour’s yard, and he has been studiously ignoring their increasing frustration with the situation.
The neighbours would, in my opinion, be totally within their rights to ask him to prune the tree back, seeing as it’s beginning to block their window in a major way. I think the only the only reason they haven’t done this yet is that he’s always charming them with homemade jams and pies. Now that I think about it, I doubt he’d be physically up to the task of trimming the offending branches. But he could acknowledge that it’s becoming an issue and dial in an arborist service. Melbourne has been his home for thirty years, but he still feigns being new to the country and not knowing who to call on for this sort of thing.
It’s amusing to me that Boris can be so enamoured of ornamental pruning techniques, and yet have not the slightest bit of interest in things like routine crown thinning, deadwood removal and giving a dang about footpath clearance. This situation with the neighbour is quite a benign situation relative to some of the oversights Boris has pulled off in the past. I remember from when I was a kid in Adelaide that he once allowed a large shrub in his front yard to spill across the footpath and onto the nature strip.
I don’t know what the deal is in Adelaide, but here in Melbourne, tree trimming companies are perfectly abundant, and there’s no reason Boris’ neighbours should have to put up with this. Perhaps I’ll make the call myself; it’s possible that Boris won’t even notice. But I have my suspicions that his apparent obliviousness is actually just his way of entertaining himself.