The War Is Ongoing

It began innocently enough. Spring in Tennessee quickly moves from greening to greened, and humid. The colder days of winter forgotten, the trees soon show their leaves, the grass grows tall, the bushes bloom. The north wind turns southerly, moisture from the gulf settles in and the sun goes from welcome winter friend to a blazing furnace intent on wilting your entire being.

It is thus as the war rages on. The bushes in the yard, I saw them planted many years ago, trimmed them and mowed around them, and then I got a little slack with the bushes. And they grew. And grew. I used to have a snowball bush. It was overtaken by the forsythia to its left and the almond bush to its right. Every so often I’d see a snowball bloom amongst the tangled web of bush, trying hard to find the light. Alas it appeared to be lost and forgotten.

But the first thing I noticed as the leaves began to grow this year was my enemy. My enemy had taken root, and taken over. It had encapsulated the bushes and taken defensive positions. It was out of control and had to be taken on. I knew I must meet the challenge. The honeysuckle had to go. Once I realized that, I soon realized that to tackle the honeysuckle problem, the bush problem had to be dealt with first. The almond bush was 15′ across and 8′ high, the forsythia 18′ x 14′ and 9-10′ tall, a constant threat to the satellite dishes that had to be cut back several times a year due to actively interfering with communications.  The lilac bush 12′ across and 9′ high and rounding out the problem a bush I don’t even know, it does sport small red flowers once or twice a year, this one had held back the onslaught of the honeysuckle, but was a wild sprawling mess.

But the honeysuckle, the insidious menace, had entirely overtaken the forsythia, what was left of the snowball and the almond. Tendrils had advanced to the lilac and set up shop there too. I really wasn’t aware of how bad the honeysuckle had infiltrated, I spent two mornings and one evening out there just trimming the bushes back. I could see then this was going to be one big job.

Wounded! I was using a spade in a jackhammer fashion to uproot a couple of forsythia clusters that were too close to the satellites. I was successful in removing two of them. The next day I had pretty  much lost my ability to even hold a coffee cup with my right hand. The forearm would take odd moments to throb with an electric shock feel that was quite intense. I had to take some considerable time off from my attack. Got back at it again yesterday morning.

I was actively destroying any honeysuckle I came across, tracing its twisting, winding, vine to the ground, snipping it about halfway so I could pull the vine free of the entangled bushes. That, a difficult sweaty miserable job is the easy part. You then trace the vine back to its rooted position and have to pry and pull and yank and hope your hands don’t fall off, I found that a pick works well to attack the root, you slam down close to the root and push the handle leveraging the pick under the root. Even then it is a difficult task to free it, this stuff is tough as nails. But I’m a tough old bastard too. Not tough enough, I am typing this with my right hand/wrist wrapped up again!

Interesting thing I discovered about honeysuckle. For every bit of vine you can see, there is just as much in the root system. If not more. It looks like it just goes to the ground to root, but oh no, not that simple. It expands in every direction above ground with reaching tendrils looking for a place to climb. These tendrils will go a couple of feet, then establish a root to ground, then keep spreading until it decides to ascend. It also, and this was the surprise, stretches out in multiple directions underground! There is a vast root system stretching this way and that up to two inches deep! You start uprooting what you think is the home base, the grandaddy root that will destroy the vine for good, and all of a sudden the damn root starts pulling up and you keep pulling, walking along several feet till it finally gives out. Long story short, you can’t just eliminate what you can see, you have to search and destroy the vast underground system if you want to free yourself from honeysuckle.

As I am wounded again. And find that I have muscles aching I wasn’t even aware existed this morning, I will have to take a few days off to heal up. But I will continue this war till every damn bit of honeysuckle I can find has been destroyed. If it doesn’t destroy me in the process.

I hope your transition to summer is faring better  🙂