The Chinese Privet is blooming right now. Apparently (according to my local Extension Agent Dr. Tom) they were a popular landscaping tree in the past decades but it has now been discovered that they really are nothing more than a noxious weed and very invasive. My house was built in the late 1980s so it would make sense that either the builder or the homeowner chose them for the landscaping. I can certainly attest to the weed thing, I am constantly battling the seedlings in my flower beds and elsewhere and it would appear that nothing you can do to them can kill them. Last year when trying to get rid of some in one flower bed (which had gone past seedling form) I cut them down to the stubs and then covered them with black plastic trash bags, securely tied at the base. They didn’t care, they just sent up sprouts from the roots several feet away.
In any event, noxious weeds sometimes do have a purpose and this time of year the Chinese Privet comes into its own when it is in bloom. To begin with they have a very unique scent, and one that I remember from the privet hedges in England (of course a different species but with the same scent). Secondly they must produce a tremendous amount of nectar, because the pollinators absolutely adore them. I have two or three which shade the pathway to my front door, and this time of year, when the blooms are at their height, the humming from the bees and other pollinators swarming the blooms can be almost deafening.
Today the butterflies were also enjoying the nectar, there were dozens of them, dancing in the air around the blooms, and chasing each other off from favorite spots. The biggest contingent were the Red Admirals constantly squabbling among themselves.
I also saw Painted Ladies
Also to my delight Question Marks
They are a very timid butterfly so it is rare that I get a chance at a good shot of one. They are also difficult to tell apart from their cousins the Commas (there is a joke in there somewhere about my punctuation battle with my boss.)
Despite their status, the Chinese Privets do have some redeeming points, once the blooms have faded they will turn into black fruits, which are enjoyed by some birds, especially Cedar Waxwings, which can swoop down in flocks and completely strip the tree of fruit within minutes. They are a source of endless (and sustainable) free firewood and kindling, and they provide nesting places for birds. This morning I noticed a nest in the pathway trees. From the looks of it, it is a Blue Jay, and mom was dutifully sitting on the nest while dad visited the feeders and brought her food.
Every dog has its day I suppose, and sometimes we just have to learn to live with the cards we are given. That is the way I look at it anyway.