he·ge·mo·ny: (noun) influence or control over another country, a group of people, etc.
he·dge·mo·ny: (noun) when shrubbery takes over the house.
It’s easy to spot the new place if you’re driving down the street. It’s the one with the massive hedge. You can’t miss it. It’s the size of a small whale.
I don’t know how long ago it was planted—actually there are several shrubs in there, boxwoods and yews—but somewhere along the way they merged, became sentient, and embarked on a quest to take over the house. It’s so massive and cumbersome that, if Sleeping Beauty were held captive on the other side, her prince would’ve given up and gone home.
Even before we moved in, we were fairly certain Hedgezilla would meet a swift end with a wood chipper and stump grinder. Friends and neighbors sharpened up their chainsaws and a tree guy offered me a quote for taking it all away. None of us had the time or skills to carve it into a Beast-shaped topiary.
Then my brother-in-law saw it.
“You can’t just kill it!” he pleaded. “Call a landscaper and see if they’ll take it.” The man who’d lived his entire adult life in the concrete nirvana of New York City had anthropomorphized a plant and was now Team Victory Garden.
Yet, Big Brother’s words had got to Hubs who then asked me to put the hedge on Craigslist. Yes, you read that right. You’d be amazed at the stuff people post on Craigslist. You’d be even more amazed at the stuff folks get off of it, too. Soon he was taking pictures while I wrote an appropriately ludicrous ad:
“FREE to a good home–or anyone who wants to try their hand at topiary. Large hedge. Like, really large. I’m no gardener, but have been told that there’s a boxwood and yew in there–and possibly a family of gnomes. Thick stumps and roots, will need to be dug out carefully since it’s very near the house and front porch. Serious inquiries–and gardening tools–only.”
Surely, my Craigslist ad would drift off into the graveyard of the Internet. Time to sharpen my hedge shears, I thought. Then—wouldn’t you know it??—we had two responses within eight hours, including a woman who wanted the hedge for her mother’s yard.
“Who gets a hedge off of Craigslist?” The BFF in Cali was incredulous. “It’s gotta be a scam.” I’d encountered my share of Craigslist scammers over the years, but I was unfamiliar with anything remotely called the Free Hedge Scam.
I invited the
scammer very nice woman to come look at it that afternoon.
“This feels like a message from the Universe,” she cheerfully said, reaching her hands out as though a magnet pulled her towards the gargantuan bush. She took it all in, touching co-mingled leaves and needles, stepping back to admire the greenery. Then she turned to me and earnestly said, “The yew is the Tree of Life. It represents Saturn and Pluto.”
Look, three days earlier, I was burning sage in my kitchen like I was Stevie F***ing Nicks, but all I really wanted to know at that moment was if she had a shovel. No, but what she did have was a sane friend whom she’d brought with her and who likely talked her out of it on the drive home. We never heard from her again.
The next day—the Sunday the plumbing burst, in fact—my old neighbor, Benny, texted me: “Can we come over and cut down the hedge?” Ever since he saw our front yard, Benny had been scheming and dreaming of a way to get rid of the hedge—where to start, what to cut, how to haul. It was as enigmatic to him as a Rubik’s cube. Perhaps Hedgemony did have mystical powers. (Fun fact: some ancient religions worshiped yew trees.) Twenty minutes later, Benny arrived with family in tow, and all of us—Hubs and the Kid, too—spent the better part of the day cutting and sawing and pruning. Benny’s two little kids even helped stuff the yardwaste bags.
By four o’clock, exhausted and sweaty, we stood back to admire our work. We’d only cut down ten-percent of the hedge and you wouldn’t even know it. I started to seriously consider the tree guy’s quote.
Another week had gone by and the hedge seemed a foot taller when a new email arrived. This time, it was from a local bonsai group. Everything I know about bonsai comes from Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid and his bonsai trees were not the size of a Humvee. But I’ll forgo my ignorance in favor of the bonsai guy’s knowledge. “Once I start carving,” he texted me, “you will want them back.” A quick Google search of “large bonsai” suggests he might be right.
To be continued…