At the beginning of August, I featured this pic of a porch renovation on Preston:
Now the front garden on the left had the same lush landscaping as the garden on the right. But at first, only the left porch was being redone (you can guess where this is going…).
I should point out, for those unaware, that the streetscaping along Preston broke new ground in City-paid-for landscaping and urban architecture. Instead of just “restoring” the usually shitty front pavement in front of houses that had been blighted by decades of a too-wide road, and decades of too many absentee landlords, the City decided do to a fresh start. So the landscaping included not just the City-owned frontage, but in many cases all the way back to the house, regardless of whose land it was.
The theory was that we couldn’t overcome decades of neglect and abuse by simply doing the minimal bit of landscaping on the City frontage. And that most people are clueless, even if well intentioned, when it comes to doing their own landscaping. It was recognized that some property owners would not care for the shrubs. A few might remove them. But we thought that most people would work with a good start, and improve their properties, and maintain their gardens. It was a great kick-start to making the street over into a successful urban place.
For the most part, property owners or tennants have been pretty good. There have some disappointments: Ottawa Community Housing for one; the odd slumlord who consistently dumps the garbage bags, boxes, and renovation materials onto the same shrubs month after month. A garage that consistently parks cars on the planted beds. The mysterious sudden die back and discoloration of a gorgeous tree in front of another garage. A party unknown topped a tree, it looks suspiciously like someone feared it blocked unfettered motorist view of his precious overhead store sign.
I did not suspect that the fixed-up and landscaped street would cause property owners to fix up their properties and in the process, ruin the landscaping. But look at the result of a better streetscape encouraging the landlord to fix up those verandahs:
It is heartbreaking to scroll between the “in progress” pic at the top and the “end of project” picture right above. The only consolation is that the trampled shrubs are rosa rugrosa, which are famous for coming back up. We can hope.
In the meantime, another property owner a few doors down has decided to fix up his house, used as a student rooming house. His first step: to waterproof the foundation by digging it all out. First the three trees were chopped down…