Battling the Bougainvillea

We had several hard frosts this winter in Scottsdale. I covered my plants in pots and they survived well. The perennials in my backyard came back with a vengeance with the mild weather of the past few week

IMG_0699IMG_0698The huge bougainvillea, which gives me with bright magenta blossoms almost year round, fared less well. It had many dead branches. There were green leaves on some new branches, so the plant wasn’t dead. It needed serious trimming.

I should admit here that I am not an arborist and hardly even a gardener. When a childhood friend was visiting a few years ago, I bought a serious long-handled clipper so she could trim the fichus tree, which has since died. I had misplaced the clippers, which gave me a good reason not to trim the bougainvillea when I should have, six weeks ago.

As I was on my weekly poop detail today, I found the clippers lying against the wall. Now there was no excuse. I took up arms and attacked. Bougainvilleas have nasty thorns. After a few slashes to my hands, I dug in the storage room and found thick work gloves. This protected by hands, but not my forearms or legs.

I did battle for about an hour. The bush won a few skirmishes, but I was the victor.  But what to do with the dead branches? The next day was garbage pickup, so I dragged my can into the back patio. As I stuffed the thorny branches into the can, I realized the garbage men would have a hard time emptying the can and would probably get scratched. So I snapped the branches into small pieces so the garbage can could be easily emptied. I got about one third of the detritus in the can. I’ll have to do this at least two more times over the next few weeks.

Some of the dead bougainvillea branches


Some of the dead bougainvillea branches

Some of the dead bougainvillea branches

When I got into the shower, I noticed my war wounds. I thought about what would be a better outfit than my nightshirt, to do the job. I decided the thorns would go through any of my clothes and they would probably end up ripped. I was careful to clean my scratches and apply antiseptic ointment after I dried off.

I went outside to admire my work. I was sorely disappointed that the bush had no shape at all. Well, it’s a climber and it’ll have fun running wild.


Newly trimmed bush

Newly trimmed bush


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