The Judas trees in full leaf, August 2007.
Consequently, a couple of hours after Mike and Jackie arrived, all four of us trooped down the hill and presented ourselves at Mme's house. Safety in numbers, we thought. Especially as they were both taller than us and looked as though they meant business in their motorcycle leathers.
It was a very difficult hour. M. et Mme. made no allowances for the fact that we were obviously having trouble understanding them and persisted in talking at normal speed. When we didn't get it they repeated the same thing only louder. (So it's not just the Brits abroad that do this, then.) We could however, immediately see the problem. Their garden is about ten feet below ours and some overhanging branches from our trees had broken off, fallen down and damaged their haricots verts plants. We also grasped that not only could they not reach our trees from below, they had no way of removing rubbish from the garden other than by dragging it through their house. Their garden was landlocked and had no path to it from the road. The trees would have to be dealt with on our side and the waste taken away from there.
We promised to sort the problem out. We parted company reasonably amicably, we shook hands and M. offered us the customary drink. We declined on account of the fact that the barbecue we had lit earlier would now be just right for cooking with so we excused ourselves.
Tons of seed pods ready to fall into the garden in autumn.
The trees were "Judas trees". They produce lots of pretty pink flowers in the spring, but they also produce tons of large seed pods that accumulate in the garden, creating a horrible mess outside. The mess then ends up inside as we trample it in. We had already talked about cutting them back. We didn't want to get rid of them completely as they provided that all-important shade on the garden and terrace during the hottest part of the day.
There are pretty pink flowers on the trees in April.
We talked with Alex and he hired a tree surgeon for us. We assured Mme. that the problem would be dealt with as soon as possible (as soon as the tree surgeon turned up). It was obvious that she really wanted us to cut them down completely as the shade that we benefited from also deprived her potager of light.
I could understand her for treating us so roughly. The house had been effectively unoccupied for five or six years and even before that it was rarely used. So she would have had little opportunity to complain to the previous owner about the offending trees. Now we come along and POOF out she comes with all guns blazing to get the problem sorted out while she could. She was obviously worried and upset about the whole thing and I don't blame her.
L'arboriste at work.
The nice arboriste turned up two months later. He argued with Mme. on our behalf about what could and could not be done with the trees and explained the finer points of the law to her. So we got our trees trimmed and she got part of what she wanted. He then eventually sent us the bill - a whole year later !!