|Black Eyed Susan|
NEWPORT NEWS — The black-eyed Susans that cover Gary and Rose Darwells' front yard – hundreds of yellow wildflowers with a black center — may soon be mowed down by City Farm prisoners.I have to go with the Darwells on this. They should be allowed to grow anything they want in their front yard, and the city should go find something more important to do. If they have inspectors whose job it is to go out and examine yards to determine whether they are sufficiently cultivated, they have too many employees. Our neighborhood is much more lax; I believe I could grow anything not forbidden by drug laws, and could probably keep chickens, if not pigs...
The Darwells' yard has turned into a citywide debate over the limits of government and whether overgrown yards are a nuisance to neighbors or a boon to nature. Two city inspectors examined the Darwells yard this week, and ruled that the yard cannot be left in its current state.
If the city mows their yard, the Darwells would be billed in excess of $200. If they don't pay, a lien would be placed on their property. The city's ordinance permits only "cultivated" flowers and gardens.
The Darwells maintain that their Denbigh yard is cultivated and that the plants help the local wildlife, including butterflies and finches. The Darwells raise butterflies.
"As far as I'm concerned, it's cultivated," Gary Darwell said. "I planted it."
Darwell said he pulls the weeds out from in between the black-eyed Susans, even getting down on his hands and knees with scissors to control weeds.