I am at war with bittersweet. This weekend I ripped it out of three blueberry plants, tore roots out of my raspberries and almost killed an entire family of robins by chopping it out of the archway that is the entrance to my garden.
To be honest, the first bittersweet vine in my yard is one that I planted. Years ago, some friends had made me a beautiful arch for my birthday and decorated it with grapevines and tiny white lights and autumn leaves. It looked incredible as the twinkly lights invited me into the garden. The grapevines eventually rotted away and left the bones of the arch. These are made from old iron fence posts and black plastic tubing. It was not the most lovely feature in my yard. I planted trumpet vine gifted from a friend’s garden on one side but it was taking a long time assert itself so, on the other side, I planted the bittersweet. It grew like a weed.
It grew larger than the arch – it grew across the arch barring entry to the garden. It grew 12 feet high and then bent down to grab me every time I walked near. All of this rampant growth required me to arm myself with the clippers weekly and hack away at the aggressive tendrils. The vines bloomed and fruited with those incredible red and orange berries that just scream AUTUMN! Then the birds ate the beautiful berries (I did make wreaths out of the lovely vines and berries and placed them in tempting spots for the birds). Through their efficient digestive systems, the birds dropped the seeds all over my yard, planting dozens of vines wherever they perched.
Which brings me back to the present. This summer I have been watching as a pair of robins nested in the bittersweet on the arch. I hoped that the bird that Jack ate on my front step was not the mother robin (turns out he chose a different bird family to decimate).
And then, this weekend, I attacked the bittersweet and in a fit of irritation with the efficiency of Mother Nature, forgot all about the nest and hacked down the branches where their home was built and scattered 5 baby robins across my lawn.
Horrified, I did the best that I could to carefully lift the babies back into their nest and prop the remaining bits of bittersweet branches up against the fence where they were in direct eyesight of that feline terror – Jack. I felt guilty and sad and worried as the parents screamed at me and finally, later that day started feeding their family again.
This was by no means a permanent solution. The nest was wide open to any and all predators that might wander by including my sweet, adorable kitties with their sharp claws and large teeth. I let the parents have their temporary home overnight. The next morning, my partner and I cut the nest out of the wilting bittersweet and carefully placed it into the trumpet vine that remained on the arch. Then we got out of the way and waited for the parents to once again find the constantly moving nest.
The picture you see here is of the vine that now holds the nest. The nest is in there (really!) and Mom and Dad robin have found their babies and are busily feeding them in their new home. All seem well despite my efforts to wipe out the entire family. Thank goodness for the persistence of good parenting and partners who understand the importance of averting crisis!
This is my partner in crime, having helped save the bird family and finished his martini, he is scoping the magazine pages for our next great meal – what a guy….