Posted: 22/07/2012 at 08:49
What a horrid situation - you have my sympathy.
When we moved here 11 months ago we discovered that over the previous 20+ years the garden here had been increasingly overtaken by ivy and huge conifers, due to the poor health of the elderly couple who lived here and who had previously been keen gardeners. I've seen photographs of the house covered with ivy, which was removed and the house repaired by the last owner. However all he did in the garden was lop the conifers, mow the grass occasionally and give the ivy on the fences an annual strim. Within a week of our moving in here the weight of heavy rain in the ivy brought fencing crashing down - I went around to tell the neighbours and apologise with some trepidation. Fortunately they understood that it wasn't our fault and it was certainly a novel way of getting to know them as we all removed 3 skips full of ivy and rotten fencing and dug out the roots. The neighbours on one side accepted responsibility for replacing their fence - saying they'd wanted to do it for years but it hadn't been worth it until there was someone living here who wouldn't let the ivy run rampant again. We replaced the fencing at the back and the other side - this involved builders digging out and rebuilding a retaining wall as the garden to one side is lower than ours. In all we spent getting on for £3,000 on new fencing and walling!
Our neighbours are happy for us to grow roses clematis and honeysuckle etc against their fence, but we have promised that we will not plant ivy or Russian Vine (yes, there was some of that there too, and reaching 25 feet into a tree).
So you'll see, I do understand that your neighbours might well have fears of something similar happening in the future. Is there any way you can invite them over to your side of the fence (maybe a little informal neighbourhood 'Open Garden' with tea and scones, and selling a few cuttings etc for a local charity?) so that they can see that you 'garden' and control your plants and don't intend to just let them run riot? After all, from their side of the fence all they can see is greenery looming and if they've had bad experiences in the past ...