Category Archives: landscape

Stemming the Alien Tide

[I will preface this story by pointing out that don’t own any powered brush clearing equipment.]

When we moved in, I had very little idea of what kind of ornamental shrubs had been planted in the vicinity of the house. The rose and hydrangia were easy enough, but I still don’t know what the evergreen shrub by our bedroom window is that the deer love to eat. In the backyard, a little up the hill beyond the two, as yet unidentified, fruit trees, there is a tangled mess. A visit to a friends house helped me identify this mass of tangled branches as a wisteria. I know what image pops in to your mind when you hear the word wisteria. It comes into mine too: graceful Southern Plantation front porches draped with incredibly scented huge purple flowered vines. Well the plant in the picture is a wisteria. Unfortunately, it looks more like an alien creature trying to take over the planet. That description is actually not far from the truth.

The plant sends out thick vines, both over and under the ground, twisting upon itself and anything it encounters.

The heaviest infestation of vines was in these two trees, but I located at least 5 mature trees that had one or more vines growing up into them.

Given time, as these vines thickened, they would have strangled the trees.

My only option to stem the tide, was to cut the wisteria back. Rather severely! It will probably resprout, and I know I didn’t get all the runners. For the safety of my native trees, this plant has to go, so I will continue to cut back any new growth until the root system runs out of energy. In the state it was in, it would never have blossomed, although maybe it will this year after the abuse it just received. For some reason, wisterias only bloom when abused and mine was much too happy to put energy into flowers. If it does flower, maybe I’ll move a portion of it to a better location, where I can manage it’s growth.

The wistera wasn’t my only adventure in brush clearing, although every problem seemed to involve a vine. Some time last year, this dead tree, which was covered with grape vines, finally fell down, completely blocking the main path through our woodland. I decided to tackle that job today.

If you have any frustrations to get rid of, brush clearing by hand is the way to do it. The wood was dead so it broke down into small pieces fairly easily, but this is Blackjack Oak, notorious for it’s twisted branches that snap in often unpredictable ways. An hour and a half, a few bruises, scrapes and face lashings, later, the pile was significantly reduced, awaiting a saw to cut it into firewood, and the path was clear. My luck with gas powered chain saws, hasn’t been good. The logs are pretty light despite their size. I may just carry them to within a hundred feet of the house and rent an electric chainsaw.