Saturday, February 09, 2008

Kill The Kudzu Day ...

all photos © Joan Z. Rough, 2008

Oh, what a magnificent day it's been! With a high near 55 degrees, I spent almost 3 hours outside this morning tending to my compost heap and beginning to cut back the invasive plant species that make the river bank a dense thicket of kudzu, honeysuckle, bittersweet and blackberry canes. No, I can't actually kill it. Because the river is a source of water for the city of Charlottesville, I cannot and wouldn't anyway, use pesticides to control the growth. Although a good barrier for any runoff to the river and a wonderful place to watch birds nesting and feeding in the spring and summer, I cut this tangle back every few years so that some of the native species can continue to grow where they like to best ... like the Elderberry, which provides the birds with nourishing food. Elderberries also make an awesome cough syrup for people with winter colds but I'm never fast enough to harvest them, so must get them elsewhere.

I know this doesn't look too threatening, but in reality some of this mess and the blackberry canes are taller than I am and all of those nasty vines wrap around each other making it very difficult to remove. Even wearing long sleeves the thorns on the blackberry canes scratch my arms and long pants don't prevent my legs from being gored by those tiny spears.

Up close, you can understand why the birds and small creatures like to nest in this hedge from hell. You have to be one brave preditor and armored in leather to get yourself tangled up in this mess for a few fresh eggs.

Because these plants are mostly dormant at this time of year I love to do this work on days like today. It makes it a bit easier to identify what it is you are cutting back and there are no birds nesting. Once the spring migration begins in just a few weeks and the birds begin to nest, I'll quit until next year when I'm antsy to be outdoors enjoying the sun and wind.


Lucy said...

You're a rugged woman Joan!

It's been very warm here too.

becca said...

Oh, it's so cold here in Michigan - the high was only 7 today, with bitter winds. Quite a change for me from last week.

Those kudzu vines look menacing. But clearing them away would give you a good work out, I bet!

Visual-Voice said...

I'm antsy to get out too! Boy, the weather changed up here suddenly. Hope you are well.

Rivanna Rambler said...

More power to you, keeping track of invasives AND our water quality. THANK YOU! Might have to do a Rambler story about your slice of waterfront property.

mom&muppet said...

it does your heart good to get out and attack the "garden" this time of year, doesn't it? i trimmed my apple tree this week, and spread some mushroom compost - my yard is tiny - still organic though! next week i will go into the park (yosemite) and photograph the falls, which are raging from so much rain and snow this year! patti