The Hedge Maze in the Autumn


Autumn has arrived for my hedge maze. With it comes frost, lack of growth, and Halloween. As a matter of fact, this was supposed to be an article on Halloween in my hedge maze. However, I was bogged down by other projects, which made it impossible to write the article on time.

The first thing I noted about fall in the hedge maze was the lack of privet growth. The privet shrubs will shoot up 6 inches in the summer months every week, unless you trim them up with a decent set of hedge clippers or limb cutters. When the shadows grow long, this no longer becomes an issue. The switch on plant growth is turned to the “off” position and they go into a dormant phase. The nice thing about this season is that you don’t need to spend every available minute trimming the maze down to size and searching for vines that creep across the ground.

The one bad thing about this time of the year is the knowledge that my hedge maze will shed its leaves and turn into an arrangement of dry, brown stalks awaiting the warmer months. Privet will keep its green foliage, in many temperate zones, until January. This is when the ice-cold winds force them to shed their leaves once and for all. Funny thing, the juniper vines will keep their green after the privet has shed its leaves. It’s one way to locate the vines. Unless you take out the root ball of these invaders, there is no way to prevent them from returning every year.

In years past, when the hedge lines were higher, I would put on a tuxedo and serve candy to anyone in the neighborhood who wanted to enter the maze. This year, and the ones past, the weather was not conducive for me to do it. It’s not much fun to stand outside with a candy bowl in the rain. Perhaps next year I’ll be able to resume the tradition.

One of my dreams is to use string lights along the pathways of my hedge maze. I’d like to buy some of the inexpensive color light strings and entwine them along the hedge lines. Then I’d run a power cord down the hill and to the lights. Once hooked together, I would turn on the electricity and the entire hedge maze would glow in a faint pattern. Orange and red would be the ideal colors, but I could see the use of purple as well. Perhaps I’ll get to do this next year or the one after. My only concern is over what happens to the string lights when the power activates. Does all that electrical resistance cause them to over-heat? I’ve seen it happen with ordinary extension cords, so best to check into it first. The last thing I want to see on All Hallows Eve is my hedge maze on fire.

This is another reason I’m careful about what I do with the maze after dark. One year I filled it with solar lights. They didn’t provide a lot of illumination, but stronger lights mean heat and too much heat is not a good thing in a garden maze. I’m glad the garden lights you can buy today are low power. No way in heck am I going to allow a flame inside my hedge maze.

Speaking of fire, I now spend two days a week with my burn barrel. I have two of them, each is made from empty steel drums. Each had holes dried in the side to all fresh air into the drum for burning the privet I cut down last summer during the Big Trim. However, one barrel is covered by a mountain of privet and it’s going to be a while before I dig it out. My original plan was to use a woodchipper to get rid of the brush generated by the Big Trim. That turned impractical when I found out how much it cost to rent a woodchipper.
Since the borough allows me two days a week to burn “yard trash”, I spend a few hours on Wednesday and Saturday hauling up the dried brush to the top yard. Once up there, I chop them down with a pair of lopers and shove the cut branches into the burn barrel. When the barrel is stuffed, I put on a pair of safety goggles and ignite the contents of the barrel. Soon, I have a nice fire inside it. Next, I chop up more brush and shove it into the barrel until the fire dies down. And then it’s ready for more brush. I’m hoping to have that mountain burnt and off the hill by the spring of 2020. Weather permitting.
Another interesting thing I’ve discovered while cleaning up the brush is the presence of praying mantis nests. I’ve encountered two, so far, in the brush pile. I carefully place them on the hedge lines in hopes they’ll hatch this spring. I want them to release plenty of those little murder machines on the lanternfly plague that’s hit this part of Eastern Pennsylvania. Those lanternflies, which seem to have found their way to Pennsylvania by taking a ride on wooden skids from Asia, are a real problem. They’re hard to kill, but the praying mantis finds them delicious. I do all I can to promote the mantis population in hopes it will take down the lanternflies.

I don’t have to mow the grass much this time of the year inside the maze either. With the hard frosts already arrived in Eastern Pennsylvania, I won’t need to mow the grass until next year. Although my hedge maze becomes dormant this time of the year, it’s a great time to prepare for the next. There’s plenty of shrubs to be replanted and vine creepers to be located when it’s cold. Best to do it now before the snow comes and I have a whole new set of issues to deal with.

First published in 10/19.


About Timothy L Mayer

Timothy Mayer has written 313 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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