...and other gripping tales.
On the South boundary of our garden there is a very big hedge. It is a Leylandii, and it has been there since about 1985. The previous owners of my house had some problems with an elderly neighbour, who liked to watch them sunbathing though his binoculars. Their response was to plant the hedge.
I don’t know how big it was when they planted it, or exactly how fast these things grow, so I am unable to tell you when they were able to resume sunbathing. I do know that when I moved here, in 2000, it was about 12 feet tall, and in an excellent state of maintenance. It has occasionally been a source of a little neighbourly friction, since it shades a part of next door’s garden in the late afternoon. Accordingly, we have lopped a bit off the top – it is now around 11 feet, and we also had it shortened at its Western end by some 7 feet, two years ago, when we had tree surgeons in removing our legendary eucalyptus tree. The present neighbours, by the way, have nothing to do with the gent with the binoculars – he died years ago.
So we inherited the hedge, but we like it because it maintains a nice measure of privacy. It costs a bit to keep it groomed, but overall it’s worth it.
In recent years, a vigorous Virginia Creeper (from next door) has begun to grow through the hedge, and it produces a most attractive show of red foliage in the late Summer. When it first appeared, we were surprised, but very pleased with the look of it – “How lovely!” we exclaimed, clapping our hands in childlike delight.
Three years later, the creeper has taken over, and has removed so much light and so much water from the hedge that the poor old thing has turned brown, and is not well at all. Yesterday was vengeance day. I put on my oldest clothes (which may also be my third newest clothes) and burrowed into the hedge to see what could be done. I found it was stuffed with creeper vines, some of them an inch and a half thick – a real tangle. So I got to work with secateurs and branch loppers and a pruning saw and gritted teeth, and I howked out [Scots] a very large amount of tat – 2 or 3 big builder’s bags – maybe a couple of cubic yards. With luck, the creeper will die off – it is certainly drooping badly this morning. With even more luck – and maybe a little bonemeal – the hedge may recover.
Sitrep as of this morning – the hedge looks a bit scorched, but the
creeper hanging from the top is clearly withering...