Wednesday, August 3, 2016

"Bees" and Pokeweed



At some point, the hole in the tree stopped being a home for cute squirrels and became a home for slightly less cute hornets. I called Orkin and they sent out, I swear, one of the Ghostbusters; a 6 foot tall Amazon in white coveralls who said, with some regret, that "they didn't do trees" and she thought they were wild bees. They are small and so far not super aggressive--here you can see a woodpecker working right next to the hole, and the workers are keeping an eye on the bird. The hornets did hover close enough to make the woodpecker flap, but the bird just moved up a couple of feet away from the hole and went back to eating. This is the best photo by far I have been able to get of the hornets; that bright yellow abdomen makes me pretty sure that is what they are. I would leave them alone, except they are close to the front door, and there is a ton of room inside that 40 foot tree for a really epic hornet home, so I may make some more calls to see if anyone will come out and remove them and patch the hole up (screen wire and plaster is what is recommended; I read it on the Internet so it must be true).
   The Internet is full of suggestions for removing hornet nests. Generally everyone agrees that burning a nest is not a good idea:
(I suspect that nest had some "accelerants" added to it--photo is from the Ehrlich Pest Control company on the East Coast). Burning the nest is also supposed to make the remaining wasps "peevish". Water from a pressure washer is also a suggestion, which sounds like a great way to throw around wet hornets and further enlarge the hole in the tree; and setting up a shop vac to suck them up, which sounds like genius until you realize that you either need to empty the shop vac afterward or quietly bury the whole thing when you are done.
Example here from Red Green
 So for the moment the hornets are sitting there unmolested. Winter is coming, after all.

The other yard annoyance I am having is pokeweed. Pokeweed is actually a fairly handsome plant, with purple, mildly poisonous berries that make still more pokeweed.

 Pokeweed loves wet weather, and like squash, you can see a tiny sprout on Monday and by Thursday have a towering, 4 foot tall plant, shading out all the plants you really want to grow. If you ignore it for another week it will have set berries and made a tuber the size of a yam underground, making it hard to pull up. Here is one morning's crop on the compost pile:


Then there is wild grape. It also is quite pretty:

It's also impossible to weed up by hand (you need a shovel), and basically unkillable. Birds will happily distribute the fruit around your yard, too. It also likes to strangle it's neighbors, but not as much as wisteria, which is some kind of science-fiction villain and should never, ever be planted anywhere. If you want pretty blooms, get a Mandevilla, which at least dies back in the winter and doesn't try to kill everything near it:
Also wisteria only blooms in June, and spends the rest of the year trying to make cables all underground in your yard, and small tentacles to grab unsuspecting bushes and strangle them. The only cure is to be constantly alert and have a pair of clippers in your back pocket to snip off any wisteria bit that pokes up above ground. You can only keep ahead of it, you can't really kill it off.

And speaking of keeping up with things,I don't see how my neighbor Evelyn manages to keep everything in her yard immaculate-- but she does. Here you can also see her neighbor Shaun's chickens, which make hilarious raptor noises every morning. I love those things:

In contrast, here is my yard:

Evelyn does have a riding lawnmower instead of a push mower, and that helps.

2 comments:

  1. Evelyn chooses matching, low maintenance plants. You choose plants that are pretty, or smell good, or attract bees and hummingbirds, or are just interesting. Your yard is not immaculate; it's interesting and fun. So there.

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    1. It's true she plants things that stay neat--I tend to keep weeds that look cool, but weeds are not neat. They are free, though :D I do envy Evely her amazing iris bank (it's on the other side, I should take a photo next spring). They also have a huge koi pond in the inner garden, I haven't really seen it because of where it is, but sometimes they get ducks and they are hard to remove. I said she needs a dog :D

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