City Acknowledges 'Definite Overreach' After Clear-Cutting Roanoke Man's Native Garden

“There’s a lot of lessons to be learned here and we stand ready to be accountable for our part in it,” a city official said.

Tim Saunders, with cat Yarrow at left, stands in his front yard where he has nurtured a garden with mostly native plants for almost nine years. PHOTO BY HENRI GENDREAU FOR THE ROANOKE RAMBLER

From a modest brick Tudor in Northwest Roanoke’s Roundhill neighborhood, Tim Saunders takes care of his mother and his plants.

For almost nine years, Saunders had nurtured a wild garden, focusing mostly on native plants, in his and his mother’s front yard. He spends much of his time as a caretaker for his 74-year-old mother, who has cancer, and also does freelance catering and baking. Sometimes he incorporates fruits and edible flowers from the garden into his cakes.

Late on Valentine’s Day, Saunders returned home from a day of volunteering in Floyd County to be met with a scene of destruction: From his patches of strawberries, blackberries and juneberries to the mature peach, pear and hazelnut trees, from the redbuds and fig to the pawpaw tree, everything in Saunders’s native garden was mowed down.