Home from a whirlwind trip to Florida, dreading the cold, only to find temperatures in the sixties. A break in the rain allowed some time in the ongoing reclamation project known as the sunken garden, a once-beautiful space overtaken by English ivy, porcelain vine, and yellow flag iris. I only had a couple of free hours but am pleased to report the filling of multiple 33-gallon lawn and leaf bags.
But--the enemy is not defeated. Today's labor cleared only a tiny triangular patch, perhaps ten feet across the longest side of the triangle. One massive ivy had roots going down more than a foot, the removal of which necessitated removing a rose bush, one that had failed to thrive during its twenty years in that spot. In some places, the ivy roots were so congested that getting a shovel or pitchfork into the ground was nearly impossible, so I spent quite a bit of time scrabbling in cold dirt and yanking, following some shallow roots for several yards as they finally abandoned the soil.
Another thug taken out of commission was an oriental sweet autumn clematis, the kind that goes everywhere, choking out everything in its path but English ivy. The roots of the plant look like a particularly terrifying space alien, multitudes of thick, floppy tentacles emanating from a central glob. My love for its frothy flowers and intoxicating scent did not save it (though I suspect that the soil harbors enough of at least one tentacle for the plant to regenerate).
The rose of sharon privacy hedge is nearly as enthusiastic as its companions. At least a dozen seedlings joined the ivy roots, grabby vine, and sickly shrub in the to-be-sent-to-the-compost-farm bags. A few hundred more are waiting.
The War of the Alien Invaders is likely to be a long one.