It’s true. On many different levels. I think they’re dead. They are not. I turn around and there one is! Where did it come from? Why won’t it just go away?
So I find yet another vine with its thorny self defense mechanism winding its way up the hill and around non-offensive plants. Again? Seriously? I know what to do. Into the garage to fetch the red handled expandable loppers. For those who don’t know what these are, they look a bit like heavy duty scissors and are used for cutting branches of up to about 1.5″ thickness. I use them for so many other things as well.
I sling my pair over one shoulder and feel like a real gardening bad-ass. Like a logger with an axe or a hunter with a shot gun. I hunt branches that block the pathway down the hill to the wild bottom backyard. Many times I have swung the loppers off my shoulder to slash through a spider web or to cut and smash down the debris in the yard waste container. I admit, I’ve also carried it with confidence while giving a stranger in the cul-de-sac the evil eye. What business do they have here anyway? One can never be too careful in the burbs. Mail thieves abide.
Today, I used the loppers in my quest to rid my backyard of those thorny blackberry vines (BBV). I was really just going outside to see if I could find any signs of spring. It’s only been winter for a couple weeks, but I am over it and ready for warmer weather. Since I live in the Pacific Northwest (PNW), that means average temperatures above 50 degrees F. While I found a few promising signs of life in the front yard, the backyard declared war. Or I did on it. I discovered the blackberry bush that I had beat back last summer was already creeping back up the hill. Like an asshole.
What’s my deal with blackberries one might wonder? They provide delicious berries, right? Not the ones in our backyard. Not enough sun to ripen them I think. All they do is creep and wind and snag and stab. The berries belong in the grocery store or in my belly. Not unripened on the thorny vines in my backyard. The BBVs must go!
I’ve been told that one must dig out the BBVs. Get the whole root out. This is a challenge when the birth place of several of our BBVs resides on our wild hillside, which doesn’t seem too stable in places. I just hope our old retaining wall holds true. About three feet down the hill I could see some thick vines protruding from the soil sending out long tentacles in various directions. Not trusting the soil on the hillside to hold my weight, I decided not to fetch my shovel and dig out the roots, but to take my multipurpose loppers to cut the vines at the base.
Extending the loppers to their greatest length and using my core strength (Yes, gardening is a workout. It’s called YardFit.) to keep my body weight back while stretching my arms and the loppers downhill, I managed to snip-stretch more -snip -take another uncertain step downhill-snip again. So now what? BBVs like to “root” and basically just make new BBVs where they touch. I snip them, they should be dead, but BAM! They are back. Like Zombies.
I needed to properly dispose of them but the BBV corpses were a bit out of my reach. I could grab the skinny ends, but OUCH. Yep, I remembered the hard way that I need not only my rubber fingered gardening gloves, but leather gloves over them to bypass the plant’s natural defense system. I tried again after donning gardening armor, but the ends of the vine would just break.
I needed to grab the fatty bases of the cut vines, but they were out of reach. At least they were if I didn’t want to fall down the hill and into them. Again, I grabbed the loppers and used them as one would a pair of tweezers though careful not to apply too much pressure and cut all the way through. Once I had a tweezed or lopped them up and into my hand to grab, I would turn and pull away from the hill. Sometimes running (again YardFit). I felt bad for the bramble that was being torn as I tugged, but I needed to get the vine, which was wound in and through it, out and off the hill. Sometimes there are casualties in gardening. This is important to accept and remember. Sometimes it’s the plant. Sometimes it’s part of you.
Once I had pulled the vine free of the bramble, the ends whipped around and slashed my legs. Like a ninja! Even in death that vine was out to get me. Like a zombie ninja asshole.
Today’s gardening lesson:
Loppers – Good for many things. Get a pair. Even if you don’t garden.
BBVs – Know what you are getting yourself into. And wear leather gloves. They come back and they fight back. Have some band-aids ready.
Gardening Casualties – It happens. Accept it and move on.