A cautionary tale about the hidden dangers of meticulous edging and mowing comes to us from the UK’s Daily Mail. Hertfordshire gardener Brain Hubbard has been ordered to cease and desist neatly maintaining the verge outside his property, owned by the city council. Its tidiness might encourage people to walk on it, or cause Hubbard to imagine the land really belongs to him. Or some such silliness.
It’s interesting, because clearly the land being referenced—patch between sidewalk and road—is what I call the easeway on this side of the pond. Others call it a hellstrip, and never was a nickname more accurate. Is it possible to go right when dealing with this patch? If you let it go to weeds, you get cited. If you grow tall perennials on it, you get cited, or your neighbors whine about it. You can’t control what trees the city puts on it and you can’t take them down even if they are vicious, water-sucking, roots-almighty Norway maples. And now this guy can’t even mow it without getting into trouble?
Lest this be written off as a fluke, I actually have a similar instance that occurred recently in Buffalo. A neighborhood activist was mowing the weedy hellstrip of an absentee landlord, and the guy had him arrested. Said landlord liked his hellstrip to look like crap; if the neighborhood improved he would have to clean up his act, and he preferred being a slumlord.
Such is the life of the urban gardener. Or at least any gardener with an easeway/hellstrip/verge to deal with.