A glorious, sunny, breezy day today and I spent it toiling around the perimeters of my property at war with ivy and Virginia creeper.
Each year I make a little more progress on the unkempt regions of my backyard, and this summer I am doubling down on the vines that grow along the fences. When I am feeling defeated by these vines, I convince myself it’s okay to let them crawl all over the stockade and chain link and slither under my shrubs. It’s a wild garden, I say to myself. These vines are just “rambling” and “scampering” among the other plantings and they “soften” the look of my ugly fencing. It’s a William Robinson look.
Ha-ha. Except that’s mostly delusional because in truth the ivy twines between the fence boards, grows, and wedges the boards apart. The little sticky pads on the Virginia creeper cling to the sides of my cute little shed, ready to tear off the yellow paint when I try to remove it. The wild grape sends out its wiry tendrils, like antennas on some alien life form, searching for a delicate little garden plant — like my thalictrum! — to smother to death.
There is something very satisfying about grasping a vine that runs along the ground and pulling on it with just right amount of force so that the roots come up without the vine breaking. I always try to see how many feet of vine I can get up just by pulling, before the vine breaks or gets caught on something and I have to come in with my clippers. Sometimes I can get like eight or ten feet of vine in one tug. Oh, yeahhhhh….
I have a serious problem with Virginia creeper and wild grape along my chain link fence. After years of ignoring them, they’ve developed massive, inch-thick roots that run right underneath the metal of the fence. My little forked weeder is useless in this situation — like putting out a fire with a Waterpik — so I haul out my shovel and try to wedge the tip of it under the root. Try to pry it up, though, and the damn metal fence gets in the way. Blast! Except every once in a while I get the shovel under there at a sweet angle and when I push down on the shovel handle pop! a giant section of vine comes up. Pull hard on it and — if I’m lucky — pop, pop, pop! — I’ll get a couple of feet of that mother extricated from the soil.
I pulled on so many vines today that even now, sitting like a lump in this chair, I see and feel myself pulling vines. I feel my fingers closing over a piece of ivy and pulling. Chunks of cool, dry dirt fly onto my bare arms as I rip it out. I cram the piece into my yard waste can and crouch down to search for more. Did I get it all? No, there’s some more encircling the trunk of that euonymus. Crouch, grab, pull, repeat. Pretty sure I will dream about pulling vines tonight. In my dream, the vines will be endless, the world will smell of dirt, and William Robinson will be laughing at me, laughing so hard.