Mystery Tree in the Garden

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

I found an entire tree laying flat across the street garden this morning. Just, you know, laying there. How it got there or why is beyond me.

Okay. Here’s the thing: The garden’s a mess. I have barely touched it since the last big incident. I just haven’t had it in me. Call in the garden police. Seriously, the way I have been neglecting that garden makes me feel like a total fraud. And yet whether I garden or don’t garden the weirdness continues. All sorts of interesting Happenings have occurred since the last incident. Things I haven’t bother to write about here because that would mean crawling out of the nice soft and fuzzy blanket of denial I’ve been slowly sinking into as a way to put all of this nonsense out of my mind.

Garden? What garden? I walk by the remains of each new occurrence shaking my head in disbelief and then turn away to look in the other direction and pretend the whole thing isn’t even there. I did deal with the used potting soil someone threw on top of the plants. The plume poppies that were trampled down to make a path to the back wall. And the dead squirrel someone tossed from off the road. At least I did that much.

Sometimes I think about the garden late at night while laying in bed waiting to fall asleep. I make plans to pull out the weeds, rebuild the broken fence, and throw out the slowly accumulating collection of big beer cans and giant Freezie wrappers. But then I wake up in the morning and focus my attention on the roof garden, my sanctuary in the sky that only the raccoons and squirrels can have their way with. They drive me nuts but at least their behaviour follows some kind of logic.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

But this on the other hand is just ridiculous. Is this some kind of joke? Performance art? We looked up and down the street a block but couldn’t see a single ripped out sidewalk tree. Which means someone actually dragged this one from a fair distance and then heaved it onto the iris bed. When I try to imagine the rational behind this act the only thing that comes to mind is, “Back to the source.”

It’s as if the person thought, “Man, I sure am getting tired of hauling this small tree down the street. I wonder where I can ditch it? How about with this other plant matter?”

I suppose it only stands to reason. Like belongs with like. Or something like that.

I think it’s about time the street garden had it’s own internet website. That and a web cam. And then once it’s making some money it can pay for all the wasted therapy sessions I’ve had to put towards working out its issues.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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21 thoughts on “Mystery Tree in the Garden

  1. A webcam would be a good idea. My husband went in to a liquor store today to use their ATM. On the window, there were stills from their security camera depicting the faces of the people who had recently robbed the store.

    You could do something similar when you catch someone doing something weird in your garden. You could make them Wild West style. “Wanted: Weird Guy Who Collected All His Trash for a Week and Then Dumped it in My Garden.”

  2. Weird about the tree, sorry about the earlier devastation. I garden on the street too, but probably in a less “urban” area. So far the worst thing I’ve found is an abandoned CapriSun juice pack, probably hurled by a stroller-bound toddler. I hope things improve and people start acting more respectful. Geez!
    - Karen

  3. Gayla, your garden really does seem to be a magnet for human weirdness.

    Have you ever thought about creatively using the items that people leave there? Okay, obviously dead squirrels and syringes aren’t exactly useful or desirable gifts… but the beer cans and random things like this tree and whatnot – could you incorporate them into the garden somehow?

    That way, you’d be turning people’s carelessness (and downright jerkiness) into accidental good deeds in your favour. Or even into art!

    Ok, maybe I’m being ridiculously optimistic, but it’s a thought. :)

  4. it´s like the gardener´s equivalent of the severed horse head in your bed… (the godfather)

    did you piss off the mob?!?

  5. I have been following this saga and thinking about it. Do you garden it by yourself? Do you think you could come up with 5 or 6 volunteers to help you, so you could share the burden with them, and feel lighter about it. For me, I am a control freak, but having others to share it with might help you be able to laugh about the weirdos. Just a thought. I don’t want to see you give up on the garden all together, hang in there.

  6. KT, that’s a good idea. Sorta like making lemonade out of lemons?

    I’m just really amazed at the rudeness and thoughtlessness of some people. Maybe my mother raised me better than others’, but I was taught to respect other people’s property and the earth. Littering just wasn’t an option in my family and always shocks me no matter how often I see it.

  7. Oh Gayla, I feel your pain. I’ve tried to engage neighbours in our 4 community gardens and have been saddened to see the damage from … who? In one case we know it’s a kid who claims the garden is ‘his’ and he can do whatever he wants to it.

    In another garden the tomato stakes have been pulled up and used to decapitate the corn and sunflowers. I went so far as to write “an open letter to the neighbours of ___ street”. I’ve yet to check if it’s been torn down.

    I won’t be beat though, we’ll just move from that location next year. We’ll perservere..

    Hang in there.

  8. It is hard to get into the minds of people who have so little regard for the labor that went into creating this little island of beauty and show no appreciation for what you have provided there. A sad sign of where our society is headed, and I fully understand the frustration you must feel. Hang in there!

  9. You know, for all the damage and weirdness surrounding your little street garden, I have to say that it still looks fabulous in your photos. Very lush and green, and with the beautiful spikes of yellow and purple popping up – it looks like it’s doing a little perservering of its own! :o) Maybe you can use the branches of the discarded tree to rebuild the fence? Or, you could even “plant” the tree in the plot somewhere and hang (cheap/free) things in it? If nothing else, it might be a great place to display some “please keep out of my freaking garden” signs. ;o)

  10. Hey Gayla,

    Three things.

    Thing One. I drive past your garden every Thursday around 8pm. If you want help weeding your garden then, I’d be glad to help until it gets “too dark to see the syringes for the weeds”. Just tell me what I need to bring in the way of gloves, etc.

    Thing Two. I’ve offered this to you before. If your fence is broken, let me build you a new one. And if that one gets smashed… I’ll build a better one that is revised to deal with each new (and increasingly odd) vandalistic technique. I get the wood for free anyways, and most of it is going as firewood for the Dufferin Grove Wood Ovens… I know the headbaker Anna is always running low on firewood, but heck, maybe a good fence will make you some good neighbours. Also try to remember that you live in Parkdale, an odd neiighbourhood at the best of times. And your garden is in a very high traffic area, both vehicular and pedestrian.

    Thing Three. You are not SUPERGARDENINGWOMAN! You’re Gayla, some chick (pardon the term) who has created a great website with members who are wise enough to not expect you to have the perfect garden (pardon my grammar)… and, we all KNOW that this time of year, when summer is ending that all gardeners must look at their gardens with a reflective and hypercritical eye and wonder “Was it all worth it this year?”. This question must not be answered immediately. Wait until next spring… by then you won’t remember or care about last year’s garden… you’ll just be, once again, standing on a melting pile of dirty snow littered with the flotsam and jetsam of urban decay, happy nostrils flared and sucking in the long-forgotten scents… with… that crazy look… in your eyes… :-)


    P.S. Seriously. Send me the dimensions of your fence. You’ll have a new one in a week or less. If you don’t like it, I’ll take it up to Anna so they can burn it in the wood ovens to bake some bread. …then I’ll build a different fence until we get it right.

  11. Isn’t it odd that I’ve been looking for a tree just like that? It would be perfect with some decorating as a Wishing Tree for my wedding reception.

    Too bad it’s too big to send to me!

  12. Have you ever considered a lovely tuteur of poison ivy vines, and a mass planting of stinging nettle?

    Sincerely, the meanest person who reads your website. :)

  13. Ooooo! I have a nasty bramble bush growing in my azaleas. I have to put leather gloves *over* my fabric gloves to even get into the bush, but they train up like crazy! (I actually took a “if you can’t beat ‘em…” attitude with the damn thing and just put up a trellis. That way it looks somehow intentional- and it’s a great security measure beneath my bedroom window.) Just holler and I”ll dig you up a piece, stick it in a potato and mail it up!)

  14. Alphatango: I will email you regarding the rest but about the neighborhood I wanted to say that I’ve lived here over a decade and started the garden 10 years ago! All of this vandalism is new… There have always been strange occurances in keeping with the neighborhood (which I love btw). And there were little problems at times but that’s just par for the course in urban gardening.

    But the vandalism that I’ve been writing about on the site only started about 2 or 3 years ago with last year really standing out because there was suddenly a real intensity and purposefulness to it that I had never seen before.

  15. I have a strip of garden in front of my apartment that I took from bare trampled dirt and cigarette butts to a pretty nice border– but people do throw litter and stuff in it and the maintenance people trample it–I stopped putting as much effort into that one and focus more on my main garden behind my apartment which is more private. So I kindasorta know how you feel–by the way what is the plant with the pretty bright yellow sprays of flowers?

  16. I have a strip of garden in front of my apartment that I took from bare trampled dirt and cigarette butts to a pretty nice border– but people do throw litter and stuff in it and the maintenance people trample it–I stopped putting as much effort into that one and focus more on my main garden behind my apartment which is more private. So I kindasorta know how you feel–by the way what is the plant with the pretty bright yellow sprays of flowers?

  17. “Have you ever thought about creatively using the items that people leave there?”

    I bet you could make a garbage can out of beer cans, and then hang a sign on it that reads “USE THE GD CAN!” out of needles? ;)

    Keep on truckin’ in the garden Gayla, soon we’ll have snow and the winter doldrums to complain about, and be aching to get back in the weeds.

  18. First thing I thought when I saw the tree? Get out your limb loppers and make tomato stakes. You could make a trellis out of the limbs for growing cucumbers or green beans. Just tie them together with some hemp. Make sure you wash them in case they have something nasty is on them like pesticides before you put them in your garden.

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