Remember when we explored the hedge in the winter? Well, you’d hardly recognize it now! All those bare branches and rose trailers are in full leaf, and the hedgewalls are drooping under their own weight of fresh leaves and blossoms. Now when I venture into the hedge, I have to squat or crawl through most sections, often in near-blackness.
While I have not yet identified some of the smaller trees in the hedge, the multiflora roses (rosa multiflora) which comprise a fair portion of the hedge gave a wonderful showing in recent weeks along with the Japanese honeysuckle and grapevines. The whole world was saturated with the sweetness of flowers, a welcome visit to follow all the cherries and other flowering trees of mid-spring.
The multiflora rose was introduced to this region in the 19th century, and recommended for hedges just like these. However, over time, this species’ rapid and easy proliferation has shown its more invasive qualities, and careful management of this plant is now encouraged. Nonetheless, it makes for a beautiful, animal-friendly environment.
The birds, deer, bunnies, foxes, and other creatures have always frequented the hedge – but with the onset of spring they are out in force! I've followed deer through the hedge as they disappear into the woods. When I wander the tunnels, I am immediately surrounded by the red-winged blackbirds, whose usual songs are replaced with a near-quacking sound.
Undoubtedly the nests are near by, and I am being quarantined by the neighborhood watch program. While six to ten birds encircle me from the hedge, one takes the role of giving away my position by hovering over my head mrack-mracking all the while. (I’ve watched them do the same to a fox, and I wonder if I should take this behavior as a compliment, an insult, or merely by-the-way.)
Our image above of one of these red-winged black birds does not do them justice, but it was hard to get a clear picture as they bantered about. Intelligent birds that they are, all nests were located safely away from the tunnels, so I couldn’t spot any chicks; given their behavior, I didn’t dare try to venture off the trail.
With the roses now spent, it’s a matter of waiting for rosehips to swell and grapevines to fruit. I do not believe these will produce edible grapes, but I did see another variety around my neighbor’s garden, which appear ripe and ready for picking. Looks like I need to bake some cookies and barter a trade!