Part of living in a historic neighborhood in the center of town is that the houses are really. close. together.
Like, reach out and touch someone close. So, needless to say, getting some privacy without insulting our neighbors is important to us.
Once I finally started getting all those curtains up, my eye started to wander to this awkward little space between our house and our neighbors’.
When we first bought the house, this space was overgrown with ivy. Sorry for the crappy iPhone pic.
Pretty, but I shuddered to think about what creatures might be under all that ivy. If we ever needed to access that side of the house for maintenance one of us would have to walk through there…and it wasn’t going to be me. The ivy was also creeping up onto both houses, and I was worried my neighbors might complain.
So when Memorial Day rolled around we took a big chunk of the long weekend to tear it all out. This was our first ever lawn and garden project and we were exhausted by the time it was finished. I had been thinking maybe we’d use some salvaged bricks to lay a path through here to the side of the house, but after digging all that ivy out we actually discovered a brick path already there!
I’ve been pouring mulched leaves over the area ever since just to keep the weeds under control, but I felt like this space really needed something. It runs alongside the front porch, where we often spend time with friends, and our neighbor’s living room being eight feet away from our porch swing is kind of awkward. Like we’re hanging out on the side of their house. I wanted to put some sort of screen up between us but didn’t want it to be awkwardly obvious that I’m trying to not have to look at them. After all, we do often wave hello and exchange pleasantries to them from the comfort of our porch. I didn’t want them thinking we don’t like their pleasantries.
Then, a few weeks ago, I was wandering around Lowe’s on my lunch break and spotted a pallet of Sweet Olives. I’ve always loved the scent and they remind me of a particular spot on LSU’s campus where their fragrance would permeate in the spring. I wasn’t sure exactly where I’d put it but I heroically hoisted one into a shopping cart anyway.
Even with an SUV, transporting something like this is tricky. I had to shove it in there at a 45 degree angle and hope for the best. My car was filled with the scent for the rest of the day.
After work I pondered where to put my new little lady. I took a look at the tag and caught the word “screening,” and it hit me! I could put a few of these in that awkward space between the houses! Their foliage would add some privacy without screaming “I’m not looking at you!”and their heady scent would waft over the porch in spring and summer. The mature size is not too short, not too tall, and it’ll stay narrow enough to keep from growing all up into the house. Here it is in its new home:
The 4.5 gallon, which is what I got, is a little steep at $40-$50 so I think I will add more plants slowly over the next few months. And after getting this baby in the ground I am glad I decided to do one at a time. It turns out planting a tree is hard work! I am sore in all kinds of places from digging that hole.
Sweet Olives are very much a traditional southern plant and are definitely one of my all-time faves. I can’t wait for these to grow up and fill in a bit as they’ll surely be nicer to look at than the side of my neighbor’s house, but what I’m looking forward to the most is the smell! You can catch a whiff of it now if you really stick your nose right up to it, but in a few weeks that scent will be knocking me over like a 2×4 every time I walk out my front door. In a good way. Like being high on life.