Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Home wrecker!

I'm not proud of this fact, but I am a serial home wrecker. As far as our resident paper wasps are concerned, I am an Aussie Attila the Hun, wreaking havoc on their village then riding off into the distance.

Yesterday, I accidentally wrecked another wasp home. It's not the first time, either. In the 23 years we've been here in Marrickville, I might have temporarily ruined their lifestyle about half a dozen times. The wasps have built their beautifully constructed homes under the eaves of our pergola area, under our outdoor dining table, in our grevillea, amid the leafy clusters of creeping figs and, as I discovered yesterday, in our over-sized murraya hedge.  

Here's yesterday's wrecked home, pictured some hours after
they abandoned it once my hedge trimmer had done its worst.
The moment my powered hedge trimmer lopped
off a foot or so from the top of the growth, a
frightening cloud of annoyed yellow and black
wasps swarmed up in the air, looking for culprits
to administer a sting to. I scarpered, and after
the hullabaloo died down I snuck back to see
if I could find the nest. Here's the last few occupants
wandering around, looking home-wrecked. Using
my longest rake I moved them well away, and
continued on with the sadly necessary task of
cutting our overgrown hedge down to size.
This is the "Before" shot, of the murraya hedge at least two
feet too high. It was so high it was blocking the low winter
sun reaching our vegie patch, so it had to be trimmed.
And this is the "After" shot. Normally I would feel OK about this
job, but by coincidence I found a photo of how our hedge looked
eight years ago, in 2006, and now I'm dissatisfied. I might have
to trim the hedge a whole lot more (see below)...
This is how the hedge looked back in 2006. Much better!
I couldn't believe how much I had let this hedge grow over the
years, but it happens. Hedges do tend to "creep" up in height
unless you're very careful about your hedge trimming, which
I am not. Pammy's art studio looks so much prettier here.
Finally, while I'm discussing the business of
pruning and trimming murrayas, I also tackled
the overgrown monster murraya which is the
bookend to the eastern side of our covered
pergola outdoor dining area. Though it is under
an olive tree in a fair bit of shade, this thing
just grows and grows. So it was time for not
just a trim, but a full "boy prune".
Have you heard of the expression "boy pruning"? It was one
of the favourites at my old magazine/TV show, 'Burke's Backyard'.
And it was a term equally used by male and female staff.
"Boy pruning" can be done by men or women, but characteristically
it's more likely to be done by a bloke (hence the term). It is simply
very, very, very radical, deep, heavy, shocking, awful pruning.
Pruning that looks like "you've overdone it this time, buster."
This murraya loves it. This is the third time I've done it since we
planted it many years ago. It'll look this awful for at least six
weeks, then a month later it will be a wall of young green leaves.
Finally, though, I am sorry, wasps, that I wrecked your home. I know you'll quickly set up shop somewhere else in the garden, as you always do. 

I have nothing against our wasps, either. They're a welcome presence here. The only time they have ever stung me, and it was just the once, was the day I was pruning back our grevillea without knowing that they had a nest in there. They soon let me know I was getting too close!

Our wasps are Australian native paper wasps, and they are beneficial insects in the garden, catching caterpillars to feed to their larvae. Given the terrible way that I manage to blunder in on them, wrecking their homes every couple of years, they are also remarkably peaceful and tolerant creatures.  


Sue O said...

Ha, I know I am always sending you to read my blog posts, but I have a wasp story that might amuse you. I am much more respectful of them than I used to be. And I am not sympathetic to them at all.

Diana Studer said...

We had a nest a few years ago, but I don't see them any more. Hope they have found somewhere in a more peaceful corner of our garden to thrive.

I imagine Pammy might appreciate the view out from her art studio? Or does she prefer the veiled green seclusion?

Jamie said...


You're spot on about Pammy and the studio. She's still tossing up between light and views versus "veiled green seclusion" as you so excellently describe it. I'm not rushing her, but it's a bigger decision than it at first seems...

Anonymous said...

HI, can we get cuttings from murraya and will they grow as I love them, the perfume is truly fabulous.

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