Hedge Maze: Year Two

hedgemaze2004 The first year of the hedge maze saw it successfully planted and surviving the unpredictable Eastern Pennsylvania weather. From blistering heat in the summer to sub-arctic conditions in the winter, we get it all. Privet is the ideal plant for this environment as it’s hardy and survives in just about any condition. It doesn’t like floods, although few plants do. This would prove to be a problem when I found out why there was a drain installed at the bottom of the hill. The spring of 2004 showed the privet to be in full bloom by the end of spring. A privet bloom is a thing of beauty. White flowers everywhere and the smell of something ready to grow. It lasts a few weeks at most. Then the shrubs commence sending out the green tendrils from each branch that reach higher into the air than you want to snip with your clippers. Once again, ignore it at your own risk as those little shrubs know how to take maximum advantage of a small patch of land. Somedays I think the walking Triffid plants from the John Wyndham book were patterned after these little freaks. This was also the year of the mushroom. It was when I found out the inner oubliette of the maze could fit a stage mushroom I’d hauled up from Philly in the back of my van. And when I found out stage props aren’t the best thing to use in an outdoor garden. Oh, well, it did last a few years. One of my kids even did a small paper for his school on the ecology of the maze. He took photographs and showed the new animals, with other life forms, that moved in the corridors as the privet began to seal it off. The hedge maze no longer appeared to be a wispy thing. It didn’t need constant maintenance with a shovel to keep the freshly transplanted privet from falling over. By now, I had a good idea of how deep the roots needed to go and how much dirt to put in place. It resembled a classical hedge maze by the end of the second season. As I said, that privet can grow and grow. I was able to stand at the top of my hill and look down into the greenery below with pride. Naturally, I had to go and get some solar lights from the local Sears Hardware (remember those?) store to make it light up at night. And then I needed even more lights. Soon, I had every corner in that thing illuminated. It was impressive, but I found out, when I took the lights into the basement tin the fall, that those solar lights have batteries that need to be changed. If the battery doesn’t charge from the sun in the day, the solar light won’t illuminate. The ones I bought didn’t do very well in the freezing weather, I noted. Some of them were cracked from the temperature drop. It pays to check and find out the construction of any garden adornment you buy. Especially when you buy a whole bunch of something for the garden, or, in my case, the hedge maze. I remember walking a friend through it one evening when the hedge maze reached this stage. He stopped, looked it over and then turned to me. “Wow,” he exclaimed. “You really don’t have any free time, do you?” I found out the bottom hill flooded one day when it rained harder than I noted in years. I also found out that large privet shrubs will fall over if they are soaked to the roots. The third time this happened, I went shopping for a fence of some kind to block off this section. It was also necessary to change the pattern of the maze. Whereas it was once accessible from the street, now it could be entered only from the hillside or from the eastern lower corner. It wasn’t the pattern I wanted, but one I had to work with. This is also the pattern I settled upon as it seemed to fit the landscape. Once more I need to insist that you plant your hedge maze with the land you have and not the magic hilltop you might want. The ideal hedge maze it on high ground, well-watered and, above all, flat. You don’t want a swamp at the bottom of the hill. By now I’d noted there were specific spots that flooded if the rain was excessive. The only way to resolve this issue was to plant around them. I’d intended on a small extension of the hedge line to create a small oubliette toward the new entrance, but the privet continued to die in this location. Not having the money for my own Rainbow Bridge, I altered the entrance pattern so that there were flat bricks and stepping-stones if you needed to cross over this spot. You work with what you have. Over the years those bricks, and stones, would sink into the ground. You can’t beat nature. I know where they’re located but lack the time to run a weed whacker over the spots and bring back the former glory. Best laid plans of mice and men, you know. It was about this time that I noted some of the shrubs were taller than I wanted. They grew up and tended to tilt over to the ground. This is a way privet propagates, as the part that touches and embeds in the ground will send out runners and a new shrub clump is born. It didn’t occur to me, at the time, that I’d spend years taming the privet into the pattern I needed. Privet plays the long game. While I was out working on other projects, it would send out tendrils and runners underground in search of new territory to conquer. Most of the time the lawnmower picked it up, but not always. It’s another reason the shrubs become so thick. Published 9/24/2019

About Timothy L Mayer

Timothy Mayer has written 35 post in this blog.

I'm a full-time ghost writer, business owner, expert on spy fiction, martial artist, tax payer and self-appointed expert on obscure movies. Available for lectures. Donations appreciated

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