The curse of the previous homeowner: episode 1

Tim and I bought our house in the summer of 2006. A cape built in 1944 and expanded over the years, it’s got great character and really suits us. But like most residents, we want to make the space our own. Our tastes differ from the previous occupants.

Our next door neighbor has been in her house for 50+ years and she’s told us all sorts of things about our home’s history, such as when the previous owner added on the dining room or replaced the windows. She’s also told us about each of the three previous owners: Arlen, the original owner and longest resident, the old lady that lived here next, and the family who sold us the house.

While we love our house, we frequently stumble across quirks that require repair or some sort of attention. When we encounter things like ungrounded electrical work we shake our heads and mutter, “Why would they DO that?” Usually Tim’s the one shaking his head and muttering.

But yesterday, it was all me. The last woman to live here fancied herself a gardener. She started a lovely butterfly garden in the back yard, which I’ve expanded over the years. She also planted a few things in the large beds in front of the house. Again, I’ve added to those and moved things around to suit myself.

The problem: The trellises by the front door. I believe she started with good intentions, planning to frame the doorway and draw attention to the entryway. Bright orange trumpet vine was a good choice.


Uneven growth and sparse flowers. Not ideal.

But then she added some white clematis. The two vines competed for space, choking each other out. As they fought harder, they flowered less. Rather than bright color framing the front door, I had a viny green mess.  In addition, the white clematis got lost against our blue-gray siding (another previous homeowner decision we’ll remedy someday). Yesterday, I finally took action and dug the vines out.

I plan to replace them with another climbing thing, but this time, the vine will have its own space. I’m looking for something that blooms all through the summer, preferably with a bright purple flower that will stand out against the siding. I want a perennial hardy enough to withstand New England winters and thrive on neglect, without becoming unruly. Hopefully I’ll find something that won’t make the next homeowner shake her head and wonder what I was thinking.



  1. Beware, as you probably know–once you dig something up, something else may appear! I have had so many different things pop up once I dig something else up. It’s crazy!

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