M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Tuesday, May 01, 2007  

Burning Bush

Three years ago, when we were working to get our house ready for the adoption home study, one of our projects was to do some front-yard landscaping to provide a little of what people on certain cable channels just can't stop calling "curb appeal." We went to the neighborhood nursery and picked out a variety of plants, knowing nothing whatsoever about horticulture or gardening aside from 1) what looked pretty, and 2) the word "perennial," because we didn't really want to have to do this again every year.

So for the past three years, the area right below our living room window has boasted a variety of attractive plant life. In addition to a large, globular bush that's been there since we bought the place, we also have a green flowery stalky thing, a sort of whitish dealie, another plant I can't remember right now, and a strikingly lovely conflagration of bright red. This last is the one I want dead.

I don't know what its Latin or even common name is. I personally have nicknamed it the "Razor Needle Hypodermic Kill You Bush." I'm hoping to get it into the books.

At the time we bought it, we had no idea that it would mature from a cute little reddish shrub into a devil plant. Its branches are incredibly dense, branching off into narrower and narrower twigs that practically touch. And every one of those twigs has a stiff, narrow spike about an inch in length coming off of it in different directions at half-inch intervals. It has curb appeal, all right, because that's the best place from which to appreciate it. You've heard of impenetrable brambles? These are unapproachable. Trash can't even reach around to water the window boxes behind it without letting out a few irritated "ow"s each time.

Normally we just leave it alone, and it does the same for us. Even M. Small somehow never goes over there. But at some point in the past couple weeks, when we've been ambitious and sun-starved enough to actually go out and do some yard work during the weekend, I actually trimmed the shrubbery in front.

I love my electric hedge trimmer, which has roughly the same effect on narrow bush twigs as a lightsaber would. The only problem is that then you have to pick up all those little twigs. This is made even less fun when some of those twigs are made up entirely of miniature spears that go right through your gardening gloves as though you're not wearing any. How do like your hedge-saber now, fucker?

After listening to me curse a lot while bagging these -- and then watching me slowly and carefully pick up individual twigs by their very ends -- Trash finally told me not to bother. "In 48 hours the thorns won't be as sharp and it'll be fine," she promised.

She lied. Two weeks later, when I went back to clear out more of those supposedly desiccated thorn clusters, I nearly lost a finger. And an eye. And a kidney.

"I'm burning it down," I announced.

Trash objected.

"I don't care," I said. "You can plant whatever you want in that spot, but I'm not dealing with that thing any more. I'm not letting it win."

"You can't burn it down."

"Au contraire. I have access to gasoline and matches. All it has 14.8 gazillion points of death, which won't be able to reach as far as the range of my spray bottle."

"It's six inches from the front of our house."

"Which has aluminum siding."

"You're not burning a bush six inches from our house."

"Well, how am I supposed to move it without it killing me? Or would you rather I move the house?"


"All, right, we'll compromise. I'll hose down the front of the house before I burn the bush."


Trash has an alternate plan that involves putting a big bag over the bush and then sawing it off at ground level. Like it's that simple. The bag will have to be made of Kevlar, the sawyer (and, by the way, you're soaking in him) will have to wear a shark-proof suit, and whoever picks up our yard waste that week is going to sue us from the Intensive Care Unit. I suppose we could stuff the severed beast into our chiminea and dispose of it that way, since flames dull those needles quite effectively indeed. But the bush is a lot bigger than the chiminea's front opening, and I doubt Trash will let me balance the intact bush atop the chimney opening and wait for the fire to reach it from below, which leaves us right back where we started.

Maybe if the bush dies before we get around to removing it, the needles won't be as sharp or as numerous. It's just a theory, and I have no idea whether it'll prove sound or not. I'll just keep secretly watering its roots with gasoline, while daydreaming about a Zippo.

posted by M. Giant 8:37 PM 6 comments


Get one of those mini oxy-acetilene torches, and sear it away in chunks, and then laugh like an evil mastermind?

By Blogger Sami, at May 1, 2007 at 11:14 PM  

Oh my god, that sounds fun. Do that and take pictures.

By Blogger Unknown, at May 1, 2007 at 11:55 PM  

Wrap it in a black plastic bag and leave it for a few weeks. No sun=dead plant-prickly pieces fall off. Once it is good and dead you can chop it up and feed it to the fire.

By Blogger IlsaSheWolf, at May 2, 2007 at 6:55 AM  

Sounds like pyrecantha, except that it has green leaves and red berries. I kid you not, 30 years ago when my Dad asked our new neighbors how to trim the bushes in our new backyard, the neighbor replied "with a flamethrower." If you don't already have one, get a tree lopper. Use the sharp saw and the 12+ ft pole to safely decapitate the bush at the ground level, then drag the carcass a safe distance from the house for its funeral pyre.

By Blogger MailDeadDrop, at May 2, 2007 at 7:34 AM  

It may be a barberry bush. They are reddish and have "spines" on the branches. Do a image search for "barberry bush" and see if that is what you have. If it is you need to make sure you get the whole root ball out as they tend to come back even when hacked down. I had a row of them in my back yard and hated them! Of course, I'll be putting them in under my daughters window when she gets old enough to try and sneak out!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 2, 2007 at 1:27 PM  

Here's what you need: http://www.gardeners.com/Flame-weeder/default/32-798.prd

By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 3, 2007 at 8:28 AM  

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