When neighbours invade

I have a thorny problem.

One which requires diplomatic skills. And whilst I do have experience of what to do when a neighbouring country invades (I was interning at the UN when Kuwait was invaded by Iraq), going to war with the neighbours really isn’t an option here.

My invading foe is brambles. And they’re invading vigorously from two out of three of the neighbouring gardens that adjoin my floral borders.

Big snaky triffidy evil prickly nasty brambles. On a quest for territory.  My territory.  Sure, there are other foes encroaching into my patch (nettles, ground elder, bindweed – even a jaunty jasmine) but none of these threaten to poke my eyes out when I’m not paying attention. And for the most part they can be kept at bay easily enough, by remedial actions that take place solely within my territorial borders.

But not brambles. A little chopping back from my side of the fence is the equivalent of a testosterone overload to a drunken thug. “Bring it on” they cry, whilst sending out four more invading arms.

No. It seems to me that this bramble battle can’t simply play out within my own patch.

At this point, I should add that all my neighbours are very nice. (If you’re reading, I really really like you). But it is probably fair to say that with one exception, they are really not gardeners.  One actively hates gardening. And I’m sure they have no idea of the invading power of a hormone crazed bramble on the rampage.

So these brambles really do require a UN Security Council intervention and coalition attack forces.

brambles invade

Brambles coming in from all sides and trying to root themselves in my borders

My conundrum is this:

1. Do I take the mature, correct, morally responsible (but embarrassing, awkward and potentially time consuming) option of discussing this with the brambles’ hosts in the hope we can reach mutual agreement?

If so, is there a win-win that doesn’t involve me doing their weeding?  Forever?

2. Do I take the easier and not-entirely-unprecedented approach of nipping round when they’re out and removing the offending thugs?

This could be the outcome of option one anyway….

But, this approach would involve extensive convincing of myself that my actions would be those of a benevolent helpful fairy, as opposed to a nosey trespassing neighbour from hell.  And I’d have to remove all those brambles myself.

3. Do I take a lesson from the Gulf War and use sneaky chemical warfare?  Is a strong systemic weed killer, applied from my side, enough to take out – or at least set-back – this invading foe, without me having to cross my borders?

This could kill the plant back and I could just prune off the stuff on my side.  But is it morally wrong? And would it even work?  These brambles are tough and I don’t know if anything this side of Jupiter will take them out!

Any advice?

Seriously, the UN are lightweights compared to the moral dilemmas we gardeners face!  Any thoughts, precedents and alternative tactics welcome!  Otherwise I’ll just have to end up doing the right thing 😉


plants, plants and more plants

Everything in the garden is rushing away, completely beyond my control.  I’ve missed three weekends in a row due to travelling and the garden has gained a momentum I feel I can’t possibly catch up with.   I have been put firmly in my place by nature.

Viridiflora Tulip

Viridiflora Tulip Spring Green In Pots At Front

Tulips, rhododendrons, pasque flowers, dog tooth violets, daffodils, primula and pieris look stunning.  Sweet peas are climbing out of the greenhouse tents on their own.  Lillies grow centimetres each day.  The Clematis Alpina are all bursting into life.

And so are the weeds. I only weeded half the border at the back before I went away at the end of March – now the side I didn’t get to is now thick with Ground Elder (arghh).  Definitely an entire days work over Easter.  There is also more Sherphard’s Purse than I could ever count – though at least that is easy to remove.  I know you can eat chickweed, but I’m not exactly sure which of my many weeds the chickweed is.

And I have a new mystery invader

Mysterious mini bulb-like weeds have popped up in the sunny, sharp drained border at the top of the hill.

They look like spring onions – but there are thousands of them crammed into  bare spaces.  I can’t have planted them there, surely.  Maybe something went to seed – garlic or chives perhaps (any suggestions welcome).  As long as it is not Spanish bluebells – I have been pulling them up ever since I moved here, they are terrible thugs!  I guess I will need to pull these all up, but I would like to know what they are in case the plantlets are worth saving.  As they are not in my weed identification book, I suspect they are  good plants in the wrong place (well, rather in the wrong quantity – thousands of the little guys!)