Heavenly Bamboo

Not bamboo at all, it seems. Although the sturdy bush hails from Asia, it thrives under the official name of Nandina Domestica. And tonight was my night to bring it under control.

Earlier in the spring, we brought in a professional to clean out the flower beds and bring the flora of the back yard into some semblance of regulation play. The worker was fantastic. He trimmed and raked and brought order to the wilder regions of our eastern territory. But we noticed soon after he was gone, the bushes — particularly the Nandina — grew with a vengeance. Up, out and across the bare expanses separating them, the bushes spread and flourished.

I attacked them with my old electric hedge trimmer. And while the carnage was great, I could tell that the war wasn’t over. Fairly extensive collateral damage was sustained during the fracas. Yet another extension cord was badly nicked from — shall I say — “friendly fire?”

That engagement led to the purchase of a new cordless hedge trimmer. This one with 22 inches of cutting capability. As soon as I had it home and charged, I waded into the jungles that had become our backyard beds. Trimmings flew. I stepped back about thirty minutes later feeling pleased that I had brought things back to what I consider to be normal.

That was two weeks ago. Last night, as I was mowing, I noticed that the Nandina had resurged. It’s no wonder they call this “Hitler Bamboo” and “Nandina Megalomania.” Some bushes had grown as much as a foot in all directions.

So, with my new trimmer at the ready, I plunged in again tonight. As I swung that reciprocating sword around and through the bushes I had visions of Edward Scissorhands. My shadow played against the back fence and, with the trimmer out before me, I saw more of a figure from a well-played game of Guitar Hero.

Back and forth and over and through. Carefully dodging the little teeth as they swung by my jeans, I expertly worked my way through the dense forest. And once again, I triumphed. Clippings collected in the big rolling trashcan, I headed back toward the garage satisfied. But a small voice floated across the lawn behind me.

“We’ll be back.” My confident stride lessened a little. I knew they would be back. Along with the bermuda grass that grows with great gusto in the same beds, even though it struggles not four feet away in the lawn under the tree. And the weeds and the red oak that sprouts from the acorns that drop.

Nandina, like most hardy and persistent things, will come back. And, its growth seems to be hastened when it is given a little attention. It’s not unlike anger, jealousy, and discrimination. When pushed down and cut away, these sinful behaviors find new ways to surface. The only way to get ready of those little pests is to eliminate them completely AND replace them with something else.

That’s the ultimate answer to Nandina conquest. Root them out, systematically. Plant something else in their place.

Yet, I find I like the hardy bushes. They have a nice color and beautiful berries. Socially redeeming qualities, perhaps? So they’re not coming down. And, I have to become content with their less attractive behaviors. That’s the price I must pay, I suppose.

I do wonder if moments of anger, jealousy, and discrimination continue to flourish in my life for much the same reason. Perhaps I just like them a little too much. And I’ve become accustomed to the price.

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