Years ago the father of a friend of mine gave me a box set of season 4 of a television series that tells the story of Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle in the city of Hastings, on the coast of England during World War II. It is a historically interesting, and visually arresting mystery, which happens to co-star Honeysuckle Weeks.
Ms Weeks plays Foyle’s earnest and enthusiastic driver, Samantha Stewart, a character that is adorable and sweet and great fun to watch opposite the non-demonstrative and formal DCS Foyle as he navigates the mysteries and murders during wartime England.
Then there is honeysuckle. Not the lovely, sweet smelling variety that is found in yards and on fences, filling the air with sweet fragrance, but the thorny, thistled, flowering invasive shrub.
The Asian honeysuckles “lonicera, [tatarica, morrow and belles]“, a name that stems from Adam Lonicer, a Renaissance botanist, is an invasive shrub here in Vermont and throughout the eastern U.S.. Lonicera tatarica, l.morrow and l.belles was most likely introduced into N.Y. State during the last century to “beautify” someone’s yard. They have no natural controls or predators and therefore can overtake a space very quickly, choking out more desirable plants.
We have been spending this last week cleaning up fence lines and hedgerows, which included pulling up honeysuckle. I used a winch on the gator or the tractor loader (depending on the size of the shrub), looped a choker chain around the base, and gave it a quick tug. The young ones pulled easy, the old shrubs would pull so hard, it would bring down parts of the adjacent stonewall!
The trick to controlling lonicera, (likely not possible to eradicate on our farm) is to pull it in the spring before it has a chance to bear fruit. The little red berries are spread far and wide by birds and other little critters. Their roots need to dry out without having a chance to re-root, so we have made large tangled piles. We will ether burn them or simply move the piles in the fall.
To help control these and other invasive plants there are many helpful online sources, including this amusing website site from Mr. Honeysuckle. I have listed a few below.
I am sure Honeysuckle Weeks was properly named after the lovely flowering vine and not the vexing nasty shrub, but do check out Foyle’s War when you have a chance. You too can have pleasant memories of Honeysuckle, the adorable English actress while ripping this blasted shrub out by its roots!
Kill These Alien Invaders! A comical site from the Missouri Dept of Ag.
http://efotg.sc.egov.usda.gov/references/public/VT/JS314-Honeysuckle.pdf From the USDA here in VT