Thursday, July 3, 2014

Wednesday Workday - The "New" Project

About a month ago, I focused on a new project.  
Renovate another bed.

We are lucky enough to have an American Elm tree.  I have pretty much ignored it, except for getting it trimmed every other year to keep the branches over the roof of the house cut back, and to keep the shape good.  Otherwise, I just love it and let it be... as you can see from how overgrown the ivy and  creeping Euonomous were around the base and up the tree. 

The plan is [was?] to clean out all the vines and then plant a less invasive (or more controllable) groundcover and perhaps some early spring bulbs - crocus and other tiny little things.  That pile of webb-dirt is still calling to me, so i was planning to build up the existing border (steel edging) using half bricks and then add a couple of inches of good composty webb-dirt to the outer parts of the bed - without burying the trunk of the tree.

The past two weekends have been cool enough to do some significant work outside - without dying of heat prostration!  So, i dived into the job.  After only one day, it looked like this.

And, after two days - like this. 

"So ... what happened?" you say.  
Clearly I was on a roll .... until the yellow jackets intervened!  

Yep! yellow jackets.  Somewhere under that last little bit of viney mess, is the entrance to their nest.  They made it very clear that they did not want me to finish the job.  

[Now, what are the chances that I would pick a place to start cleaning and then work both left and right and end up with only one small area to do and THAT is where the danger lies?  Well, that's exactly what happened!]  I read all the suggestions i could find on the Internet for how to handle a yellow
jacket nest - most had to do with pouring gasoline down the hole and many with following that with a lighted match. 

Not going to happen here.  First, it's an elm tree and I am not pouring gasoline into its root system.  Second, what about polluting my ground water?  Third, really?  get that close to a nest of yellow jackets?  It's not like they are just going to hang out and watch me do that!
So we shall call an exterminator and see what our real alternatives are.  I hate to kill them, but apparently they are not pollinators and are mainly beneficial because they kill other flying critters.  We have bats, dragonflies and several other helpers for that, so i think they will have to go. 

Could use any experience or suggestions you have, tho.

[Note:  Won't waste your time apologizing for not blogging for more than two weeks - same tired old excuses, plus some new ones!]


  1. Yipes, dealing with yellow jackets is NO fun! Hope you did not get stung. No suggestion from here. Gasoline? Really? I totally agree with you.

  2. I did a lot of surfing and was amazed at how much comment there was with zillions of people rather calmly discussing the pros and cons of throwing the lighted match down a hole of bees ... while I am thinking "dead tree". it really was funny. sometimes you just gotta pay the pros.

  3. I'm not sure how to handle the bees but I'd probably do the guy thing and try to dig them up. Of course this conjurs up an image of a guy flailing around widly with a shovel while doing some sort of an old barn dance trying not to get stung.

    I have the creeping Euonomous here and have been slowly digging it up. The last owner let it just run wild.