Earlier this week I nearly won first prize on America’s Funniest Videos. Thankfully, no video cameras recorded the event.
Recent plant purchases are driving yet another garden expansion here at Hackberry Point. This time I’m digging on the north edge of my front garden, where cultivated space meets rampant weeds. Although I knew the garden would eventually expand here, I think I’ve been waiting until the work itself would somehow be easier. Gardening doesn’t exactly work that way, though.
Above: Honeysuckle on the edge of the garden, ready to meet its demise.
On its north edge, the front garden ends in a mass of weeds that cover a very steep drop-off. Clearing the site was a necessary first step in the expansion. In this case, the weeds are primarily non-native invasives: Common periwinkle (Vinca minor) and Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica). Driving the expansion and waiting patiently to anchor the new garden edge, is ‘Ruby Slippers’ oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia), one of several new plants I picked up at Rare Find Nursery recently.
I started the operation at the top of the slope by pulling up easy weeds like grass and dandelions. Then I moved on to cutting back and winding up some of the honeysuckle. I also pulled a few seedling weed trees and marked a native redbud (Cercis canadensis) to save. The saved redbud is growing on the side of the slope very near a large mature one, but since redbuds aren’t particularly long-lived trees , I expect I’ll want a replacement at some point. Plus, a little extra shade would be lovely
Next, I started pulling up honeysuckle in earnest. Former owners mowed and string-trimmed this slope for 30 years, so the ground is quite compacted, soil organic matter is completely depleted, and woody weed roots are healthy. Pulling them up is tough work. The lost $100,000 funniest video prize comes in at about this point. As I worked down the slope, I got more tired and less careful. I was standing nearly upright but leaning forward into the hill, yanking up the offending roots with both hands. Suddenly they let loose. I flipped over backward like a misguided pole-vaulter, landing on my back, head down on the slope. I lay there for a few minutes, blood rushing downhill from my feet to my head (nothing bleeding, thankfully!). I took a minute to be thankful that rocks are rare here on the Eastern Shore and that I hadn’t left any sharp tools just below me on the slope.
After rolling over and around to get head above feet, I stood back up. Instead of cashing it in for the day—it was obvious I would be really stiff and sore once I sat down for the day—renewed determination filled my veins. The offending clump of honeysuckle had to pay the ultimate price. It took another hour to send the entire clump to the weed graveyard. Even though I didn’t get ‘Ruby Slippers’ settled into her new home, that was good enough for me.
Above: Casey, squinting into the sunlight, with the remains.
Future hillside weeding endeavors will be accomplished on my knees, or at least with in a position that features a much lower center of gravity. Still, I’m not kowtowing to the invasives. I’m just renewing my resolve to create an invasives-free zone that will give the front garden a finished edge—without more bodily damage.