Neighbours hit the reset button

Late last year new neighbours moved in downstairs from us, they had bought one of four garden flats in the small block that we live in. The flat has a nice little garden with a few large, established trees.  

After doing some internal renovations, they moved to the garden, making short thrift of the prevailing trees and removing them all.

Now, while  we were upset at losing the trees and the accompanying birds and shade they brought, we did not know the owner’s intentions for the garden, and we could only hope for the best.

Then lockdown happened and close to the end of level four, our neighbour started digging some holes, not just small holes either, rather large ones. Our hopes were raised. I then overheard the neighbours talking about planting some trees.

Level 3 arrived, cause that’s how we time things in 2020, and with it so did the trees. Sometimes when you hope for the best, that’s what happens. By lunchtime of that day, there were five magnificent mature Yellowwood trees securely planted in their garden. Ranging in height from about 3 metres to close to 8, the garden has been reset by human intervention.

Turns out the large established tree was a Brazilian Pepper tree or something, but it was invasive and would not allow them to develop an indigenous garden. I chatted to the neighbours who admitted they were avid gardeners, and that while it was an expensive exercise, it was worth it to them, and whoever appreciates the beauty and sustainability of local flora.

Now, while we leave this apartment block soon and will not be here to enjoy the trees on a daily basis, I will regularly check back on those Yellowwoods, which should hopefully outlast us all. 

Barry Washkansky is a freelance writer and mountain guide based in Cape Town. Contact him on or 083 953 3056