19 June 2010

The Monster

My relationship with my garden has been difficult ever since we moved here.

I would launch at it with enthusiasm, then lose interest with surprising speed.

Within a few weeks of being here, Stu had realised that my problem was The Monster.

The monster is a huge expansive bush that sits at one end of my garden. The monster is one of those plants that propagate via sucker roots. The monster is very established and frighteningly rigorous. It's roots reach out insidiously under the dirt and suddenly appear somewhere else!

Actually, lots of somewhere elses.

So gardening for me was depressing. I would launch on it, weed it and plant special bushes and flowers in it only to find that yet another monster had appeared. No matter how hard I worked to manage my garden, the monster would breed copiously. It could haunt me from all different locations!

Finally, we decided to remove it. Simple.

Six months ago we cut it back severely in order to see what we were dealing with. Once all the foliage and branches had been removed, we found that the root ball of the main bush alone was 1 metre in diameter!

Since Stu has a level of perseverance akin to the bush, he used all manner of instrument and method to take to the monster with vigour. He dug around its roots with a spade, he hacked at it with an axe, he scraped at its suckers until his fingers were raw.

But nothing moved him any closer to the demise of the bush.

It was when he found that the roots of the suckers had diameters of 100mm that he finally cracked.

I looked out of the kitchen one morning and found him poised above the monster with the chainsaw.

I knew it was time to suggest a break.

I did better than that: I took him to Australia, where it was easy to forget about the monster.

But on our return, it was there to greet us. In the early Spring, it had flourished with even more enthusiasm. Although we had shorn it down to a few stubs of wood, it had sprung into life again and sprouted seemingly stronger foliage.

Not able to cope with this sort of challenge immediately, we focused on other jobs instead. We planted seeds and seedlings in the vegetable garden, we tiled the bedroom floor, we even created an light atrium in the house.

Although we tried to ignore this stubborn plant, eventually we had to acknowledge its existence: after all, the great gaping hole around its base wasn't enhancing the appearance of our front garden.

When Stu attacked it with the axe, we watched as the metal bounced off the healthy green wood. He poured fuel on it and tried to set it alight. I poured poison on it. But it still lived!

We ignored it again.

Finally, our neighbour suggested soaking the root ball in water and using high pressure water to remove the dirt around the solid mass of roots and suckers before then attempting to chop the roots out.

So Stu soaked the roots and was eventually able to see light between several of them. It was painfully slow work but he was encouraged. After several more days, he finally axed through all of the exposed roots and rolled the main root ball out of its massive soggy hole.

Tomorrow I can't wait to get into my garden!

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