The Garden, or, Renters Can’t be Choosers

17 Jun 2009

Original Blogger tags: Cynicism, Ann Arbor

So, we have lived in our apartment home in Ann Arbor for eight years now. It’s been a bit of an uneasy fit for our family. We’ve tried to maintain a garden. They throw weedkiller pellets in it. (On the days when we are told the lawn care company is coming to kill weeds, we put up signs begging them not to throw weedkiller on our flowers and vegetables; they do so anyway.) They throw rock salt in it. Just a week or so ago, they tore out a bunch of sunflowers and put down wood chips, apparently thinking our flowers were weeds.

Originally, it was getting torn up by the snowplow every winter, and because of the poor drainage it was literally being washed away in each heavy rain. Actually, our neighbor’s garden was downhill, so it was the recipient of our soil improvements.

So, Grace built a wooden raised bed for the garden. They knocked that apart with the snowplow repeatedly and we eventually gave up trying to repair it.

So, Grace built this raised bed of concrete blocks. Last summer in addition to herbs and small flowers in the bed, we grew beans, using a bamboo teepee that Grace built. Naturally the children love to work in the garden. The bed has been here for over a year.

They even managed to knock the cinder blocks out of position with the snow plow, although it was repairable.

Now they’re trying something different. We got a letter saying that our garden, where we grow our flowers and foods, and teach our kids about seeds and plants, does not meet the aesthetic standards of the new apartment complex owners, and so we have to remove our bean trellis and raised bed. Which effectively means we have to demolish our garden, with the flowers starting to bloom and the bean plants getting ready to start climbing the trellis.

There are a few things about the apartment complex and the way it has been managed and maintained that don’t meet my aesthetic standards, such as the disintegrating balcony that is unsafe to use, the poor ventilation in the bathroom, the mold in the ceiling, the flooding in the basement, and the wiring that is prone to bursting into flames, not to mention the occasional psychotic neighbor and the leak in my son’s bedroom roof that took six months to repair and eventually resulted in the ceiling coming down on top of him. But I guess we’re renters, and renters can’t be choosers. As long as the outside of the building looks uniform and recently painted, who cares that it is disintegrating? At least management can harass us for whatever minor infractions the neighbors are committing right along with us, and (per our straw poll) not being harassed for.

I’m sure management could get some nice, drunken undergrads in here, and they’d be much happier. Maybe they’d even last a little longer than the last batch who were, I think, evicted in under two months.

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