Pretty is as pretty does
My next door neighbor wanted me to cut back some trees on my property last year, so she could see around the bend in the road. It was a knarly copse of pine trees that I had never paid much attention to. I told her I liked all the honeysuckle growing over there because it smelled good and looked prettier than those prickly trees. She asked me if I knew that vine plants like that will eventually kill whatever it is they are growing all over. So one weekend my son and I decided to tackle the mess. We started by pulling the vines off from the outside, wherever we could get our hands on them. Falling on our asses in the process. He hacked away at some of the larger branches with one of his swords. I used my wire cutters to snip some smaller ones. We got a good start, but a few days later both of us were scarred up like a cat pole and covered in poison ivy. We obviously didn’t use the right tools or the right skin protection. My friend Dave says it’s more fun to learn the hard way but I think he was just being nice, because he knows it’s usually my way. Thankfully, giving up isn’t part of my repertoire. Or my sons.
After the itching settled down we went out there again, this time more prepared. Better tools, long-sleeved shirts and pants, and a plan of attack. You see we hadn’t really made much headway from pulling everything off the top. It looked different but upon inspection, we realized the vines were embedded deep in the ground at the core of the trees, spreading out and climbing up the trees. So we crawled under there. Just to get gouged in the eye by other random weeds not readily visible. That, “Oh hey, let’s do this,” turned into weeks of painful effort. Oh damn, did we remember to cut the tree branches back too? I actually haven’t checked how it’s looking this year. I am in the process of negotiating with the new renters about who is responsible for the wildly growing grass, I don’t dare mention any tougher jobs. It’s hard to figure out who is responsible for what. Sure it’s my property, but I don’t live there anymore.
I did learn from the process though. So when the winter weather cleared and the giant azalea bloomed in the yard of my rental house, I noticed there were no flowers on the top. It wasn’t honeysuckles covering the top of the plant but some other viral vine. “Oh no you don’t,” I thought. This time I remembered to wear gloves, and brought good cutting tools and a dump cart. I still got poked in the eye when I climbed under there and my arms are scratched all to hell. The analogy works though. Cleaning things up at the roots is no simple task. You don’t just finish and get to eat cake. There will be open sores to tend to, and once those close something else will come up and need to be weeded. But the reward is great. It was nice to see, when I pushed those tangled branches away, dark green baby shoots hidden down below. Something wanting to live and bloom once the deadly vines were taken out of the equation. Once they mature and the full plant flowers, it will be something to behold.