A positive story about law enforcement and an overgrown front yard!


After too many stories of people being threatened with jail time or fines for the condition of their front yareds (and nothing but bad news out of Washington,) this story in today's Washington Post is a welcome change.

The reluctant garden in that headline belongs to a 101-year-old woman who lives "mostly independently" and without benefit of air conditioning.  (Forget the garden; in this heat somebody'd better rescue HER.)

The story includes examples of the centenarian's quick wit, and a bit about her gardening style:

The detectives were nervous about how Tufts would react to the landscaping. Before work started, she gave them a hand-written list of the animals on her property — and a warning not to disturb any of them. She objected when she thought some bushes were trimmed too heavily.


  1. This reminds me of the community service the West Asheville Garden Stroll did for an elderly couple’s garden in a a much more suburban sized setting. The garden was obviously loved and planted by hard core gardeners who simply could not care for it like it needed anymore.

    Oh it felt good, but the whole time I am thinking if we don’t go back, if this is not a regular thing, it is almost pointless. Turn your back for one season and it will be right back to where it was. The woman was very much opinionated about the proper way to prune things. She liked me cause I asked first before cutting anything. That was really just to figure out priorities in a big mess with limited time than to know how to actually prune any particular shrub or tree.

    I asked her about hiring a gardener to help. She said of course we can afford it, but I can’t find anyone who knows how to do things right. I have heard that from my own parents who can’t seem to fathom paying any gardener trained or not much more than minimum wage.

    We have never been back.

  2. Well, I think it’s great. Yes, Christopher, there are people who get elderly and cantankerous, and can’t accept that just because someone does something differently than you it doesn’t mean they’re doing it wrong (my own mother-in-law is a prime example of this), but I think you’re missing the point here – that even in this cynical, what’s-in-it-for-me age, there are still people who do something simply because it’s the right thing to do. No reward, maybe even no thanks, but just doing the right thing. God knows we need more people like that. And if nothing else good comes of it, if the woman decides that she shouldn’t be there any more, or when she passes, a new gardener will be able to take over because they can see what they’re trying to do. If this hadn’t been done, it might have become yet another derelict property that ended up being bulldozed. Thanks, Susan, for the uplifting story! I write a gardening column in my local paper, and I think I’ll relate this to my readers.

  3. Susan I get it. There should be more of this. Maybe the Master Gardeners around the country could start an adopt a garden program with continuous support for elder gardeners.

    And you don’t have to be old to be cantankerous.

  4. And I might add there is a big difference between volunteering to do maintenance on a good garden/standard landscape gone bad and code enforcement on gardeners whose proclivities are not the norm in a given neighborhood.

  5. Christopher, your last point is certainly correct regarding the world of difference between the two situations. As to your idea of involving the Master Gardeners (which I am proud to be) for an adopt-a-garden program, I like it. I live in a somewhat rural area with a high proportion of elderly residents, and I think that would be fantastic. A very good suggestion!

  6. Well, they do say that gardening is the sort of exercise that keeps you in good shape as you age. (I hope to god they’re right!) Mind you, 101 is a little longer than I plan to live, but I hope if I do, somebody would be willing to do this for me!

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