Privacy
Planting a Screen of Arborvitae ( Thuja occidentalis 'Smaragd' )

Planting a Screen of Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis 'Smaragd')

I love my garden. I love my privacy. I’m very fierce about it.
— Julie Andrews (b. 1935), English actress

Today we planted three arborvitae and installed a 35'-long fence. We hadn't planned to...

Last autumn our neighbor suffered a minor stroke and as a result, he retired. He closed his dental practice and his building sat empty for the entire winter and most of the spring. Unfortunately, the building is now being offered as a commercial rental and it includes a second floor apartment.

We had already begun to create a boundary. After fourteen years in our home we began to think about the day when the dentist would retire; between 2017-2018 we added a wide bed of native plants: inkberry, mountain laurel, witch alder, 'Brandywine,' 'Winterthur,' and maple-leaf viburnums, ferns, pachysandras, phlox and a variety of other part shade-loving species. When he fell ill in the fall, his retirement was immediate.

While no one is currently renting the property next-door we were surprised to discover a woman slumped on the wall of its tiled front porch this morning...taking a long drag on her cigarette. She may or may not become our new neighbor, but her presence (and her cigarette butt tossed in the grass between our houses) was enough to inspire us to fortify our aforementioned wide flower bed. 

The situation breaks my heart. Our area was settled in 1766 and these 1.93 sq miles of Penn's Woods grew into a successful, well-inhabited small town. Considered economically prosperous the town attracts laborers - farm labor, construction work, mining, and the warehouses of General Mills and Hershey Foods contribute to its transient population. Unfortunately, most of the stately homes lining the Main Street have been converted to apartment dwellings.

Our privacy and clear boundaries are becoming more and more essential. There is no sense of community for permanent residents of this ever-changing landscape of itinerant laborers. Today's addition of more green in our little corner of the world offers us some respite, I suppose. Everything looks lovely...I am so grateful to my hardworking husband and thirteen-year-old son for pulling it all together in ONE afternoon!

Jessica Allen explores the fields and forests of Pennsylvania with her artist-husband, Michael Allen, and their son, Benjamin. She shares her observations through words and pictures of everyday magic and beauty she sees in her world.