A Tale of Two Vines.
The first an evasive leech snaking up and around tree bark melding itself to the body of a pecan minding its own stationary business.
English ivy sounds so lovely. It is lovely when confined to the parameters of a terracotta pot on my porch or the exterior walls of an ancient manor in the Cotswolds.
The above pictured isn’t a bush. It’s the trunk of a pecan tree in our yard.
To be honest, this takeover must have been happening for a while but only till this fall did it start to bother me. Baffled about how to get rid of it, I took a pair of yard clippers to it and after hours of (maybe minutes) of struggle, I managed to cut through one anemic teensy branch.
You see once attached to the tree, the vine grows into the bark. Ever put a screen protector on your phone and then decide it’s not quite lined up? Just pull it up and … Nope. They have become one flesh.
Just like the English ivy and the tree.
After no luck with my efforts — other than turning one or two strands a sickly yellow — what was a minor irritation consumed my waking hours. Like looking in a mirror and only seeing cellulite on the back of a thigh or a fold of skin in the crevice of a smile, driving up to the house, all I saw was English ivy inhaling a pecan tree.
I needed a horticulturist gone rogue. One gone all Darth Vader. I considering emailing the guy who poisoned the Auburn Trees.
On the other side of our house, the second vine was mat of smilax woven in an old metal rack. Or it used to be.
At one time, this vine formed a screen for our porch. Last spring after a nest of mockingbirds cleared out, I hacked it all down. I do this every few years because the vine swarming all over itself inevitably chokes portions causing dead brown spots in our lush smilax screen.
My husband hates when I do this because he loves his screen. But it has to be done and it always grows back.
That is it always has grown back — except when there is a severe drought like we had last summer and the yard service keeps cutting back any shoots attempting to sprout.
“It will grow back when the rains come again,” I told him. And one or two branches would shoot up toward the screen.
Only to be hacked down by the well-meaning yard service. Over and over. Last time it happened, y’all — I thought he was going to have a stroke.
Thankfully it has been raining and we finally got on the same page with the yard crew so it looks like we might have the beginnings of a screen again.
Climb sweet smilax climb. Stretch your tendrils to the sun.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the house.
Our son was home this weekend and I once again grabbed the clipper to tackle my nemesis. I called on him for strength when I couldn’t muster enough brute force to shear through a root.
“Mom. Those aren’t going to do it. You need an axe.”
An axe? Like Snow White and the Huntsman? Aren’t axes evil things wielded by escaped lunatics causing death and destruction to wayward teens having sex in parked cars?
Funny how I didn’t need to bother the Auburn tree killer at all. I just needed a well-placed axe.
My toes tingled at that mighty thud and the sight of blade biting and splintering those big as anaconda ivy roots at the base of my trees.
Who knows if that will solve my ivy problem, but now when I look at my poor overgrown pecans, I search for the first sign of a shriveled leaf, the first brown clump.
Hope. The feeling I have the upper hand in a battle against a relentless force. Once again I can sleep at night without haunting images of vine tentacles burrowing into my face.
“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”
Will keep you posted.