Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Fighting greenery

It is not just the wild animals of all sizes that fight for existence in our sheltered glade where humans are the proxies for domesticated animals. Plants fight too. The loser in a plant fight dies of strangulation or suffocation.

Two of the most fearsome fighting wild plants are the ivy and the convolvulus, the former can destroy walls, the latter both stifles and strangles everything in its path. But it does offer a pretty flower as a distraction, rather like a boa constrictor’s smile.

Two of the most vigorous cultivated fighting plants are the vine and the wisteria, with the lesser known bignonia not far behind. The wisteria’s weakness is that in its teenage years it suffers from sudden death syndrome.
Terrace covering seen from underneath

These plants do appreciate human made supports, such as the iron bars over our terrace, or any handy upward stem. At present there is a race on between the vine and the wisteria to reach the palm tree nearest the terrace. It seems as though the vine has won.

Palm tree under attack from native plants

Curiously, the summer after we installed ourselves at La Chaise, wandering round assessing the largest, tallest oaks for felling – we needed both firewood and cash – we saw the oddest sight. Hung on the topmost branches of a slender 40m high oak were ripe grapes. The oak had grown on the edge of a former vineyard.

Some plants, like chickens, are cannibal. We have several oak saplings growing within the dried out stump of their ancestor.
Some are fighting off an invasion of cherry saplings whose pips were probably dropped by cherry greedy birds or martens.

Curiously, one five leaved oak sapling is growing out of the chicken house wall. An acorn cannot have fallen into that space. A bird would not have pushed it into that space. I suspect No 1 grandson who delights in pushing acorns into holes.

Overweening ambition

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