The Tiny Sign on My Front Lawn

PrimeLawns5Sometimes when you pass our Cloister home you will see a tiny sign on a wire stuck in the corner of our front lawn. A company called Prime Lawn offers a great deal to Cloister residents that helps keep our lawns looking good….and for $15 per treatment. Jim Johnson has been treating our lawn and that of some of our neighbors for a number of years. This is an example of some of the treatments he offers…


Jim doesn’t even bother us when he is in the neighborhood. He simply leaves his little sign and mails a bill


Where and What is Cheekwood ?

A six minute drive from The Cloister, less than 3 miles, takes Bonney and I to one of the hidden jewels of Nashville. It’s easy to notice Belle Meade Plantation because it sits right against Hwy 70, the railroad tracks on one side and the Belle Meade Plantation property on the other side of “70”. Cheekwood is more difficult because it is hidden away.

It’s funny, some of the Nashville Streets can be very confusing. My Garmen calls Hwy 70 next to The Cloister “The Memphis Bristol Highway” because it starts way…way…up in the northeast part of Tennessee (Bristol, TN) and runs 502 miles to the southwest corner of the state (Memphis, TN).

If you start on lower Broadway in downtown Nashville and head west toward Bellevue, the same street changes names from Broadway to West End, to Harding Road to Harding Pike to Memphis Bristol Hwy to Charlotte Pike and back to the Memphis Bristol Highway heading west beyond Bellevue. That is no worst than Briley Parkway changing to White Bridge Pike to Woodmont Blvd to Thompson Lane and then back to being called Briley Parkway!!! So much for my many year’s confusion about Nashville street names. I still don’t know the difference between “Road” and “Pike” when someone says Nolensville Road, Nolensville Pike, Charlotte Road or Charlotte Pike?????

Years ago, when we drove down the Nashville from our home in Kentucky we had no idea that Old Hickory Boulevard appears in all directions around Nashville. We found ourselves east of Nashville near Lebanon when we wanted to go to Bellevue.

Old Hickory crosses I-65 both north of downtown in Madison and south of downtown in Brentwood.

Old Hickory Blvd crosses I-24 up north of downtown near Whites Creek HS but in the south it changes names to Bell Road and crosses I-24 near Hickory Hollow Mall.

Finally Old Hickory crosses I-40 West in Bellevue at Gower School and way out east of downtown on I-40 east of Priest Lake Dam.

Driving can get very confusing in Nashville. After nearly 30 years living in Nashville we are starting to understand getting around the streets of Nashville.

Now, back to my “Hidden Jewel”. The Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum is snuggled against Percy Warner Park and along side the Percy Warner Golf Course and offers a “Bucket List” of wonderful surprises.

Cheekwood has a thirty year history with members of my family. It all started when we first moved to Nashville from Kentucky and my older son got a part-time job working in the kitchen of “The Pineapple Room” at the Cheekwood Gardens. That was the first time I ever heard of Cheekwood. At that time The Pineapple Room was like the old Tearooms where silver-haired ladies met for a lunch of either tuna salad or chicken salad or pimento cheese sandwiches and iced or hot tea. I guess my son diced the celery or pimentos or perhaps washed the dishes and pots and pans.

We have had annual memberships to Cheekwood on and off during our period of living in Nashville. Bonney recently bought a Senior Family membership for $50/year when she joined a local Garden Club. I once took Drawing lessons at the Learning Center. My creations once again proved that either artistic creativity was never mixed into my genes at my conception or whatever I received was undetectable.

There are a number of features and benefits that give Cheekwood membership good value:

  1. Security while walking……there is a gate guard at the entrance.
  2. A museum featuring  American art, American and British decorative arts, and contemporary art.
  3. Studio Art lessons in Clay, Acrylics, Mixed Media, Watercolor, Oil Painting and more at The Frist Learning Center at Cheekwood.
  4. Many varied Gardens connected by walkways.
  5. Plus, Cheekwood membership grants reciprocal privileges to gardens and museums throughout the United States.

Frankly for $50 per year Cheekwood membership is hard to beat.

We are truly rewarded by where we live, surrounded by Percy and Edwin Warner Parks, Belle Meade Plantation and Cheekwood. If you haven’t visited them recently, try them out.

Bylaws, Rules, and Regulations at The Cloister….Differences

I have been contacted by a number of Cloister residents who are unhappy that certain Cloister Rules and Regulations are starting to be enforced. One resident attempted to recruit me for a petition drive. Frankly I did not understand the goal for the petition drive and I decided that I really didn’t want to be involved in some plan that was not well thought out or possibly worked against my property values.

Perhaps my problem is that at one time I was responsible for facilities maintenance and repair of a dining hall, power station, motor pool and electronic equipment on a remote island across the China coast in the East China sea. It does change my viewpoint about certain matters involving property management, maintenance and repair.

As I understand it, there are two categories of permissions and restrictions governing owner actions and behaviors effecting Cloister property and welfare of residents.

  1. The first set of permissions and restrictions are contained in the Bylaws of the Cloister. These bylaws are attached to the Master Deed for the property.  Amendments are recorded with the Office of the Register of Deeds of Davidson County. Any amendment to the Bylaws requires an affirmative vote of 2/3 of the eligible unit owners(only one vote per residential unit).
  2. The second set of permissions and restrictions are contained in rules and regulations that are issued by the elected Home Owners Association Board of Directors or various committee chairmen appointed by the board and granted the powers of the board.

What does this difference mean?

Any change in the Bylaws requires a meeting of the homeowners and approval by 2/3 of eligible homeowners. These become a part of and attached to the the Master Deed of the property.

Any rule and regulation can be issued by the elected HOA Board of Directors or Committee Chairs appointed by the board and granted the power of the Board to set rules and regulations. They do not require any agreement or vote by residents and the Board of Directors has the power to enforce these rules and regulations.

Bonney and I have made every attempt to comply with both  1. Bylaws and 2. rules and regulations at considerable expense and some inconvenience. I may not like some of them but I understand the basic principle that the goal of these permissions and restrictions is to maintain the market value of my  unit, control operating and maintenance costs which I pay for with my monthly HOA fee, and maintain the appearance and condition of our community as well as promoting the general welfare of the residents. I have served on the Cloister HOA Board and I know it is impossible to make everyone happy with board actions and decisions but people elected to the board are responsible to take decisions on behalf of the residents.

Some people choose to ignore these rules and regulations, others buy a Cloister property that through the actions of a previous owner does not meet the requirements of the Bylaws or Rules and Regulations.

I have little respect for people who fail to curb their dogs and allow the dog to relieve itself on my front lawn and simply walk away leaving a pile of excrement. It’s their dog and it’s their waste!

As I drive around our neighborhood I see trees and shrubs growing into the side of our residential buildings, bushes and hedges reaching the rooftop or covering windows making maintenance of the buildings impossible. I see trees dropping leaves into raingutters and cloging the underground drains which we homeowners paid hundreds of thousands dollars to install and pay $thousands more for machinery and manpower to replace clogged underground drainage systems.

One caller told me that she objected having to maintain her property because she wanted to leave an inheritance for her children! How about the rest of us homeowners? Is it necessary that we should drive by her overgrown yard for the sake of this woman’s heirs as she leaves this world?

I would hope not………………

Making Cloister Life A Little Easier

None of us move to The Cloister at Saint Henry if we don’t have some unique situation where a “Universal Design” Condo will make life easier. Universal Design is a set of construction principles that help people with either advancing age or physical limitations be more independent.


Health issues can pose a burden upon a Cloister resident.  Bonney and I have decided to take action to reduce the workload on Bonney that results from some of my health issues. We have hired someone to come twice a month and do a thorough house cleaning. I find the biggest problem during her first visit is staying out of her way as she works her way through our home. She is a whirlwind!

Donita came highly recommended by a good neighbor. Not only is she available to help out with keeping our home clean and livable, she has helped some neighbors with other issues that we Cloister residents sometimes face because of need for assistance whatever the reason, including errands, appointments, etc. Currently she has five clients who reside at The Cloister.

Donita (Tel. 226-4408, she says “Leave a Message”) gives our home a thorough cleaning while Bonney can enjoy doing what she likes, working with our garden. I especially enjoy basil, mint, peppers and tomatos Bonney magically harvests from our little garden area.

Plants, trees and shrubs at The Cloister

During our eight years at The Cloister at St Henry Bonney and I took a number of actions regarding the trees, shrubs and plants surrounding our Cloister home.

    1. Dogwood in Front Yard- This one was starting to die. The lifespan of a Dogwood is 15-30 years. This tree was probably planted in 1984 when our unit was built. I don’t believe in “old growth” if it means having an ugly dying tree in the front yard. We cut it down, removed the roots, and seeded the area; we now have a simple front yard without a tree. And we like it that way. Frankly the front yard is too small to hold a tree.
    2. An overgrown shrub and a Magnolia tree had been planted on each corner of the building- These were small when initially planted but had grown taller than the rooftop and 10 feet wide. Branches were chopped off to the trunk when they grew into the side of the building. Actually we had ¾ of a tree on each corner with a wedge cut out where the trees faced the corner of the building. Roots started to work their way under the slab and into the lawn. We cut both pesky growths down and removed what roots we could get to.
    3. Original Roses at the side of the building looked beautiful but roses take work and careful tending beyond what Bonney was willing to do. They have been removed.
    4. According to the new HOA requirement, the foundation planting areas and bed should not exceed five feet from the front, side, and back of the unit with an 18 inch clearance from the building. The origional Homeowner’s Manual calls for a 12 inch clearance from the building but apparently 12 inches is not enough to give the HOA painters room to work when they paint the outside. Our Holly bushes in the front are weak and scraggly looking, they need a new start. Experts say that Holly type shrubs should be cut back in late Fall.  This fall we will have our landscape helper Mr. Garcia heavily cut back the  shrubs to within 6 inches from the ground, prune away weak or wild-growing canes, by cutting them back to ground level.
    5. Our remaining foundation planting area looks nice and neat with Iris and Day Lilies greeting us in the springtime.  The rest of the planting area has  attractive plantings of  Dusty Millers, Marigolds,  Lantana and other annuals.

Below is “The Cloister News” HOA regulations  section on “PLANTINGS” which is worth reviewing.