Trimming the English Laurel

Tomorrow is garden-waste removal day so I spent a chunk of my afternoon trying to tame the English Laurel hedge. I have a love/hate relationship with this particular entity, although by the end of today it was balanced towards the “hate” end of the spectrum.

English Laurel is extremely robust (love!), the bright green leaves look great 12 months of the year (love!), the wood is soft so it can be trimmed easily (love!), it grows very fast (love/hate) and the hedge is endlessly forgiving, no matter how badly  you trim it (lovex2!). I usually try to trim the vertical branches so that they don’t go over seven feet, and I cut all  horizontal branches so that they form a consistent wall of green.

Things get challenging because the laurel is backed by  a rock retaining wall and a cedar hedge (hate!). The wall  holds up our neighbors lawn, which is about a meter and a half above ours. Not only do I have to trim all the cedar branches which hang over the laurel, but I have to pull out all of the morning glory (hate!) and try to cut the salmonberry bushes (hate!) which grow from their side.

At the very front of our  yard, things are the worst. The laurel is really thick and overgrown and in one place, the laurel hasn’t been trimmed properly and has grown into trees. Every year I do a lot of cutting in this area and as a result, there are many bare trunks and branches all between knee and hip height, hidden beneath the foliage. So when I lean into the hedge to cut something just out of reach, the bare branches poke into me like spears.

So today I tried to cut the salmonberry bushes off at their roots, and I ended up leaning deep into the hedge, balanced against all the points of wood. Well, I ended up having my second “help-I’ve-fallen-and-I-can’t-get-up” gardening moment of 2012, when I lost my balance and fell deep into, and under, the laurel. Far below the leaf cover, the hedge is actually a maze of bare branches, and visibility is excellent. I could see the rock wall for several meters in both directions, and while I was down there I cut as many salmonberry bushes as I could. Getting up was a huge challenge as I had to try to get footing on uneven ground while trying to squeeze out, but I managed.

Later this week I want to cut at least one of the laurel trees, preferably from the street side.

Other things:

  • Summer isn’t over yet, and a few of the shrubs and trees are definitely drying out. This evening I watered all the plants in the back and tomorrow I am going to water the ones in the front.
  • The spinach and the pac choi are thriving with this cooler weather and are producing a big baby greens salad every second day. All the winter lettuce is up, and I have been harvesting that as baby lettuce.
  • The aphids are taking over the kale. I am worried that I am going to get the kale apocalypse again like I did last year, when walked out the back door and was hit by a horrible rotting smell.  It was the kale being eaten alive by aphids. I had to pull it all up and throw it away. For now, while the infestation is still relatively minor, I have been soaking the kale leaves in dilute soap and water, and most of the aphids die and float away and we just eat the rest (no, none of my family members ever reads this blog). One website said that marigolds attract the hoverfly, which eats aphids.
  • I pulled out all of the bolero carrots; they were enormous. Some of them had those black bruises, probably from carrot root fly. I just made carrot soup with all the bolero carrots and will pull up the rest of the carrots and the parsnips in the next week or so.
    One website suggested sowing carrots with leeks to reduce the risk of infestation.

About Chrystal

This blog is my online journal to keep track of what is going on in different parts of the garden, different times of the year.
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