The inconstant gardener

23:58, Dec 12 2012

Regular readers may recall that my current home is within spitting distance of the one I lived in pre-22 February 2011. The one that ended up looking a bit of a shambles, as I detailed in a video that I posted on YouTube.

One of the interesting things about living so close to my former, quake-damaged residence is that I get to watch it grow more and more rundown-looking and feral. Since I moved my things out in the days following the big quake no repairs have been made on it. It's just this forgotten corner of the city that grows ever more jungle-like and verdant with every passing week.

To be honest, in the beginning it was a bit of a letdown. When I lived there I tried to mow the lawn every week because in the summer months if you left it any longer than that it would become a struggle to get the push mower through the tangles of grass. Imagine my annoyance when I observed that three months of inattention wasn't that much worse to look at than three weeks' worth.

But spring in Christchurch this year was wet and warm and by crikey, I think the foliage on my old home is looking mighty impressive. I pop around every now and again to check on it. Technically this is trespassing, I suppose. But as I was the last person to actually live there, and as I'm not using it as a dumping ground for offcut branches, bits of wood and, surprisingly, kitchen appliances (thanks neighbours!), I don't think I'm doing any harm in nosying around and taking a few pics from time to time. 

In some respects my ongoing interest in the property is really just a large-scale version of that time I documented a piece of cheesecake that got left in the work fridge for 12 weeks. Satan's Cheesecake, as I dubbed it, was something of a science experiment (will it reach sentience before someone realises it's there and throws it out?) and social experiment (for the love of all that's holy, when will someone throw it out?) In some ways this is the same. When will someone realise this house is still there? How closely will it have come to resembling The Fireswamp from The Princess Bride when they do?

I freely admit to a continued fascination with the place. If you've ever asked yourself "what would my neighbourhood look like if all the humans got taken out in a zombie apocalypse?" then these photos are for you. It's also an interesting insight into the reality of post-quake Christchurch. There are houses like this dotted all over the city. So while we may all be getting back to normal as much as possible, there are these random reminders all over the place that not all is as it should be. Strange, bewitched properties where time has stopped. But there's no fairytale princess in a cursed sleep behind this tangle of weeds. 


What there are, are dock plants with leaves bigger than my thigh. And I have chunky Polynesian cyclist thighs so that really is saying something. I expect this will come in handy if I'm ever suffering the after-effects of rolling around semi-nude in a patch of nettles. This is the only circumstance in which I can imagine a thigh-size dock leaf being an asset. But good to know, nonetheless.

This used to be my front lawn (compare it with the opening frames of the video for a rather striking "before and after") and many's the hour I sweated a push mower around it.

Seems like a bit of a waste of my time now but property agents can be so fussy about these things. I bet she'd have had a hissy fit about it looking like this.











The former chimney still hanging out on the patio where it landed while grass and weeds grow up between the broken pieces.










Speaking of weeds, these ones are pretty robust.















But none of those weeds reach the height of this giant which is actually taller than me. I don't remember this plant being here when I lived here so it's managed grow to over 5' 7" in the 20 months or so that I haven't been living there.

I feel like that's quite an achievement. They grow up so fast, don't they?











When I see this photo I like to imagine the heatpump squealing "you can't see me!"










This is my favourite picture because it does look for all the world like the convolvulus is trying to get the door open. I have no doubt that it will eventually succeed.

Yes, that is a microwave. No, it's not mine, and no, I don't know who left it there.

At least the Convolvulus will have something to reheat its leftovers in when it does finally take possession of the premises.




Have you ever watched a building or place grow wild like this? Have you ever wondered how long it would take the dandelions on your back porch to get to the kitchen?

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