I must confess, this unseasonably warm weather has me enthralled. I just want to go outside and play in the dirt. But Spring doesn’t officially get hear for another week or so, and our last frost date is still months (yes months!) away. Even as I remind myself not to get carried away by the weather, there are still a few things I can do in the yard. So that’s what I’ve been doing, plotting, planning, weeding, and planting – just a few cool season crops – radishes and peas. But I’m trying to keep the winter cover in place, after all, snow flurries are in the forecast for next week.
The Goat, however, has been busy.
We have privets. I have a love/hate relationship with privets. They look better than cold, hard, fences (good), the wildlife enjoy hiding in them (good), they stink when in bloom (bad), they grow like weeds (because they are invasive!) (bad), and they need frequent pruning (bad). The Goat, on the other hand, holds no love for these beastly shrubs. They are his nemesis on our lot.
If you aren’t familiar with privets, they are a naturalized, and often invasive shrub that was, and still is, often used as topiary style hedges – think Edward Scissorhands or a terrifying old hedge maze. The scientific name for them is Ligustrum something – there are hundreds of species, so the something part of the scientific name can be just about anything. Which means there are hundreds of types, and most people simply know them as “hedges”. And despite the fact that a famous fictitious wizard grew up on Privet Drive, I do not recommend anyone, ever, voluntarily planting privets. Did I mention they’re often labeled “invasive”?
Privets can often be found on old homesteads or yards. Ours were here when we bought the house, and are probably close to 100 years old. Which should also tell you a thing or two about their tenacity. I’ve seen old photos of ours running the entire length of our northern and southern property line. But over the years both sides have started dying back and now only line the middle part of the yard.
The Goat decided that this was the year to cut them all the way back to the ground. We do this every 5 years or so. They always grow back, as this is actually one of the known, and recommended ways to maintain their shape and structure. So while they are dormant, he started on the north side of our house and cut back one or two a week – just enough to fulfil our weekly garbage can allowance.
Last Sunday however, when he started chopping away at the next one in line, it wiggled! So like any grounds keeper possessed with a keen hatred for the plant they are tending, he grabbed hold and tugged…and the shrub was uprooted! Victory, one down. Well, it didn’t take any persuading or extra thought, he grabbed the next one in line and tugged. It too was loose.
By the time I looked outside to check on the progress of the trimming, unaware of the actual progress being made in the ridding us of the Evil Privet, The Goat had uprooted most of the row, probably somewhere around 30 feet of hedges! I was a bit shocked and I suspect that The Goat was a bit disappointed that I didn’t share his level of excitement over the demise of the hedge.
See, from my point of view, I wasn’t planning on maintaining or re-planting a shade garden this summer. Yes, I was waiting for those suckers to die…but I had accepted the idea of slowly, as sections died back, replacing them with ferns, researching perennial shade loving food crops (do they exist?), reducing the ivy and replacing it with something else (cranberries?), and moving and setting up the area to grow spinach, peas, and cole crops during the warmer growing season. I wasn’t thinking about doing it all at once.
So, while we make arrangements to haul off the uprooted privets and burn them – they are invasive, so I’d rather burn the suckers than send them off to a landfill – I’m trying to figure out how to rearrange my planting this year to accommodate the new open shade garden and The Goat is happily eyeing up the hedge on the other side of the house. However, I don’t think he’ll be so lucky there, I suspect the deep shade kept the northern hedge from rooting as well as the southern hedge (the neighboring house is much farther away on the southern side too, so that hedge is full sun).
Now, while hoping that they don’t grow back like a dandelion whose root’s been snapped, I’ve got some planning to do!