Saturday, August 31, 2013


Investors are tearing down the small bungalows and building giant mansions in my neighborhood. Along with the houses, many gardens are also being destroyed. This is the case with the house next door. Since we were good gardening friends, I decided to show you some of her beautiful garden statuary that she gave me. My friend died of cancer many years ago. But her memory and the memory of her garden lives on.

This is my friend's chair. This is where she would sit to view her garden. We had great discussions about what to grow and what not grow here in Houston.

Here's a photo of one of the giant trees in her yard. Unfortunately, the new builders in the neighborhood do not value the shade canopy and this magnificent tree was cut down this week. 
My friend loved resale shops. Here are two of her treasures she passed on to me. 

Before the house was demolished, I managed to save this poor philodendron. It had been suffering for many years in this pot. It will get a good home in my garden.

Both of us love cats and these two statues were her favorites. I'm happy that she passed them on to me.

I've had seven years to prepare emotionally for this week. When I view this picture of her yard I remember the beautiful garden she once had. It's funny but I never took a photo of it since I took care of it along with mine. (She was physically disabled so I did most of the work and watering)
A beautiful 80 foot pecan tree was here just a week ago. Now it is gone.

A rusty pottery stand from her garden. A gift from many years ago.

These days, her statue of St. Francis of Assisi stands watch over my garden. He is the patron saint of animals. Already many of the smaller creatures from her garden have traveled the short distance to live in mine.
I saw at least 3 or 4 green anoles come through the cracks in my fence today. They are welcome here.
(This is my favorite gift from her. It is called Woman with Fawn...designed by La Pointe of Austin Productions in 1981 and it's from England.....It embodies her love for gardening, wildlife, and nature. I've read that these pieces are no longer made and have become quite expensive. Still, I would never sell it.)
In end, there are many lessons to be learned. 
You may ask if I am angry. I am not angry, but
I am still in shock. I'm in shock that the investors would cut all of her mature, native trees down even though they were not in the way for the new house.
By law, our city requires that developers leave one tree per lot. Of course, some far-sighted individuals leave many more. I guess I got stuck with a land developer next door that has no vision and no love for nature.
 I usually avoid people like this since I have no respect for their destruction of living things.
 But just like the trees, 
I too cannot get up and simply walk away.
The irony in all this is that our neighborhood is called Oak Forest. Perhaps it should be called "Oak Once A Forest".
Here they are cutting down a 60 year old native pecan tree. They left only the smallest tree as the required one tree and cut down the larger ones like this beautiful specimen. 
I will end on a positive note.
 My garden is now receiving early morning light for the first time in 30 years.
 By next Spring my front yard will have a much larger cottage garden. 
Still I feel sad for the reasons behind the extra sunshine.
What's the word for half good half bad? My mind draws a blank.

I hope I never see this scene again in front of my garden.
Gone are the giant trees! Looks like my little holly has big shoes to fill.


  1. Oh, this is a heart rending post. I'm hoping for you that this is not the decision of the people who will be your new neighbours but of the builders. Here, for mature trees, there often needs to be council permission/public consultion before they are lopped or even trimmed back and a notice is pinned nearby in case people want to object. If you do land up with a cottage garden - well, there could be worse . . . but that's not the point, is it?!

  2. The word is "bittersweet" although it doesn't quite tell the tale quite as beautifully. The "one tree" ordinance is clearly not working. In San Antonio a builder must apply for a permit to cut any tree more than a certain size (6" I think) with exceptions made for non-native trees. I remember Oak Forest well as I grew up nearby and it is sad to see this destruction.

    Your memories of your dear friend and fellow gardener will live on here in the lovely story you have shared.

  3. How difficult are the changes David! although it's a bit shocking, I'm sure you know take the blow ... I hope and pray that their new neighbors love to garden and keep sharing.
    This is very nice, looking at the garden and find memories and stories in their plants and sculptures ... a special story.
    Greetings from Tarragona!

  4. Similar things are going on on older neighborhoods all over Texas, particularly in ritzier areas of Dallas too. Lots of cute bungalows being dwarfed by giant McMansions. :( It's a shame. Maybe your new neighbors will be gardeners and can make up for the loss.

  5. The word is sappy - sad but happy. I'd have a hard time seeing a garden demolished, especially the garden of a friend. But having her statuary in your garden as well as a much relieved philodendron will make the change easier. The irony will be if the new owners have tiny trees planted and then moan about how hot their back yard is.

  6. Oh, that is just too sad. I hate to see old trees taken down. We lost a very old mesquite recently and it will be cut soon. I'm so glad that you had her as a neighbor as long as you did though. And inherited so many cherished items. How lucky for you both.

  7. I'm sorry to hear that. But I think that she must be glad that you took over not only her plants and statuary but her spirit caring about nature. And philodendron and anoles must also be glad to move to new home. Whenever you think of her, you can talk to her sitting in the blue chair, I guess. The statuary in the first photo is beautiful. It seems to stand for her who loved nature. Thank you for sharing, David.

  8. How heartbreaking! It's bad enough to watch from a distance but particularly awful when you knew the gardener and helped to tend the garden. I went through something of the same experience myself just 2 weeks ago when the man who bought my mother-in-law's home tore out her back garden without permission before escrow closed. My husband and I went by the house for a final time immediately following a memorial held to celebrate my mother-in-law's life, only to find utter devastation. I've seldom been so angry. But, like you, I have plants and other remembrances from her garden. I hope you find solace in yours as I have in mine. Thanks for sharing your story.

  9. That is terrible. Tree cutting is also happening around our city. Non-nature loving homeowners do not want to deal with the fallen leaves. Something easily taken care off by a few minutes of sweeping. I wish they could have bothered to just ball out the trees and use them somewhere else. I would take comfort that your friend did not live to see what has become of her garden and that her garden lives on in yours in the form of what she passed on to you and what you were able to save from her garden.

  10. This story is so heart breaking and heart warming. Brought tears to my eyes how you have painstakingly made an effort to preserve the memory and many plants of your dear friend. Her love of gardening will live on in your garden.

    PS A new development near us recently removed many large, beautiful old Oak trees. And people wonder why it is so hot here and why we are in a drought. We should protect our trees and stop cutting them down.

  11. David, I can well imagine that you're in shock. Knowing it's coming doesn't adequately prepare you for the reality. I'm glad you have so many treasures from your friend to remind you of her and the garden that was.

  12. So sad, David! Your neighbor was lucky to have you next door. It's great that you can keep her memory and the memory of her garden alive with this very moving story. P. x

  13. So sorry. In my area the original developer did not cut down the trees, but the new one not only clear cuts, but then burns the wood as it is cheaper than the fine.

  14. Sending you a mountain of garden love! Check out the Garden Love section on my blog sidebar. :o)

  15. "They left only the smallest tree as the required one tree" That is horrible! How very sad. So glad her statues went to you, since you loved her garden. If they are building a mansion next door, you might not want to get too used to the sun. A large house next door might block the light more than the trees did. I feel for you living in such a changing community. Still, I suppose, it could be worse. Instead of mansions, you could have graffiti and gang fights in a deteriorating neighborhood.

  16. I'm so sorry, David. While a garden is a temporary art form, it doesn't make the pain any less when they are wantonly destroyed. I can't believe builders would cut down all those shade trees. That's crazy in Texas.

  17. So sorry for the grief ignorant developers brought you.

    I live among ancient trees. Three have fallen in the past several years, victims of age, rot, wind. I mourned each one. I move on by planting more trees. A twenty-year old pecan is a sizeable tree, even a ten-year one. I always tuck a few dogwood seeds into desirable spots each fall. This year I intend to start some native persimmons. Soldier on.


I always appreciate your comments & questions! Happy Gardening from David/ Tropical Texana

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