Saturday, 21 December 2013

All I want for Christmas is…. no viburnum beetle

It's not every week that the predominant question asked by my teenage son is:
"Mum, did you find a pick axe today?"

He has had a bee in his bonnet about it since last weekend when he and his father decided that they'd take on the gargantuan task of removing my much lamented viburnum tinus 'Eve Price' from the spot where she has kept sentry over the compost bins since we moved here several years ago.

But sadly, like the rest of us, Eve has got a bit smelly and moth eaten in her old age, thanks to a heavy and ongoing infestation of viburnum beetle. A younger, sprightlier and much smaller golden variegated holly is waiting to jump into the space she has long filled with such vigour.  The only issue has been actually getting her to release her grip on this patch of long uncultivated soil.

Under a foot of accumulated compost and ground elder roots lay a sheet of thick black plastic which had obviously not fulfilled my purpose of keeping the ground elder at bay.  Instead, it formed yet another layer of resistance in the great removal operation and had to be surgically sliced apart with spade edges and gardening knives.

Eve was lopped, sawn and generally maltreated but refused to cede her ground.  Trenches were dug around her, and battle was waged against her tenacious roots, to minimal effect.  Hence the repeated question of my son, on returning from school  every night this week.

And what young teenager would not get a glint in his eye when his prayers for heavy garden weaponry were answered. Friday yielded a sturdy mattock/pick axe combo which aforementioned son and husband have wielded with much gusto this morning.  And alas, poor Eve, she is no more - apart from a very significant uprooted stump now waiting for disposal at the recycling centre.

Just the ground elder to deal with now, before planting my juvenile holly. And a further viburnum to go in order to remove the last dwelling places for my stinky beetle friends.

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