The Angry Gardener


Not long ago a friend asked why I had never addressed kudzu in the Angry Gardner. It is a legitimate question considering that kudzu has been recognized as the greatest invasive scourge of the South for the past 70 years or so.

Why have I never addressed it? Because what’s the fucking point? Kudzu has won. We have no real defense against it. Try to mow it. It will come right back with its pretty green leaves happily waving “fuck you” as it soaks up the sunshine. Use your weed eater when a vine creeps across a fence and it will wrap that woody son of a bitch around the weed eater spindle and choke it to death. Listen close and you can hear it sing “Kiss my ass” as the weed eater motor burns itself out in a cloud of black smoke. Kudzu is a botanical malignancy that spreads faster gonorrhea at the Manson Family commune.

But let’s look at the history: Kudzu is a native of Asia where it was used to make baskets, paper, clothing, and its powdered roots were used to thicken soup and even make flour. They also used it for an herbal medicine, although in my research I could not find a single fucking illness that it helped. It was first introduced to the United States in 1876 at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. Its flowers were pretty and smelled sweet and unscrupulous business twits were soon hawking it in mail order catalogs as a good thing to feed your cattle and fix nitrogen in your soil. Little did those old fools know that while it DID set nitrogen in your soil, making it richer, once kudzu is planted, you will never see that soil again.

In the 1930s, when America was suffering from the Great Depression and the government was looking for ways to keep people busy, some dumbass decided kudzu would be a great way to combat soil erosion in the South. What was then known as the Soil Erosion Service paid armies of misinformed idiots in the Civilian Conservation Corps to ramble across the former Confederate States of America and destroy what Sherman’s army missed by planting motherfucking kudzu everywhere.

And then some chucklefuck named Channing Cope, who was the son of a Baptist minister, and was a radio host, and a well-intentioned asshole, even created the Kudzu Club of America. Channing Cope became known as “The Kudzu Kid,” “The Father of Kudzu,” and, I guess, Johnny Fucking Kudzuseed, because, by 1943, he had 20,000 brainless morons signed up for the godawful plan plant eight million acres in kudzu across the South! Kudzu went on to cover more than a quarter of a million acres just in Alabama, which may be the only bright side to this story.

Then, in the 1950s, the same decade that gave us the movie “The Blob” (watch it and see if you can see a connection), somebody finally said, “Uh oh.”

Turns out kudzu spreads by runners, seeds and apparently voodoo magic. A vine can grow as much as a foot in one day. And once it has claimed a piece of real estate it can grow a taproot that can go six feet down and weigh 300 pounds. In other words, like that fat drunk neighbor who sits down on your couch and falls asleep, it ain’t going nowhere. You can spray it with poison, stomp it, burn it, hack it to pieces, and it’ll just laugh it off.

The ONLY thing that can successfully battle kudzu is goats. And, buddy, there’s a reason that Satan, in his formal portraits, has the head of a billy goat. They are pure evil and do whatever the fuck they want. Put them in a field of kudzu and they will first eat everything else of value in that field. When they have consumed and destroyed everything else, they will finally start in on the kudzu.

And if you’ve ever grown up on a farm with goats you know one thing: Goats will fuck up and fuck anything and everything they encounter. If you happen to fall down in a field of goats, you better be wearing pants. Thick pants! They have no mercy. Be it an elderly nun or a disabled child, they have no scruples to keep them from claiming their prey.

And after the goat has had its way with that nun, it will eat her rosary beads.

So there you have it. Keep your kudzu or risk being fucked by a goat.

The choice is yours.

Yours in Christ,

Russell Upsumdinar


Typically, I would spew a filthy invective against any invasive plant that chokes out and supplants native species. Honeysuckle, though, is another matter. When the vines green up in late February or early March it’s easy to feel good about tearing the damn things up by the roots as they twine around some other plant you’d like to keep healthy. “Be gone you bastards!” you angrily scream as you pull up the knotty roots while your neighbors look out of windows to see if you’re yelling at them again. 

Ah, but when honeysuckle begins to bloom in late May or June it’s a different story. The fragrance is so heavenly and the temptation of pulling the flowers off the vines to suck out the sweet nectar from the blossoms’ throats intoxicates you, lulls you into submission. “Sure, heavenly-smelling killer, curl your evil woody tendrils around my rose bushes, my forsythias, my raspberries, and choke the life of them. You have done such a brilliant job of twisting yourself around their delicate limbs that I’d probably kill them trying to pull you up anyway. Take them all, but don’t let me lose my sense of smell.” 

Honeysuckle comes in 180 different species, from the mildly aromatic and almost benign bush form to its delicious smelling and incredibly invasive vines. There are several native species, but it’s now more common to find the invasive varieties. 

One bush variety, lonicera fragrantissima, is almost fragile. It blooms near the end of winter, smells like the most delectable citrus, and carries the colloquial title “Sweet Breath of Spring” and “Kiss Me By the Gate.” How could you hate something with names like that? A giant bush used to grow across the street from my house and I’d always be surprised to see the tiny white flowers in February and be delighted at the fragrance every time I took a breath. In addition, the bush would occasionally put out sweet red berries in the summer. Then some sons-a-bitches cut it down to build a fucking subdivision. Now all I smell is exhaust. 

There is actually one species of honeysuckle, lonicera caerulea, that is grown for its odd-looking but tasty blue berries, although the berries of most varieties of honeysuckle are slightly poisonous – at least for humans. 

The more common honeysuckle in the South is lonicera japonica, sometimes known as “Japanese honeysuckle” or “Chinese honeysuckle” or even “white honeysuckle.” I guess people just couldn’t decide WHO they wanted to blame for it and the Japanese and Chinese finally said, “Hey, it’s YOUR problem now, you white bastards.” Lonicera japonica was introduced to the United States in 1806 and since that time it has fragrantly choked out anything in its path. 

For those of us here in the South lonicera japonica is embedded in the memory our childhoods. Idyllic days, drifting on the sweetness of those flowers and a fragrance so delicious that it could even cover up the smell of barnyards and pig shit. Yes, honeysuckle, you get a pass on my hatred. Let your delicious smell waft its way into my bedroom in the morning and gently rock me to sleep at night. And if kudzu can figure out how to give a blowjob it can stay, too. 

Yours in Christ, 

Russell Upsumdinar

The Privet Hedge 

There are at least two good reasons to plant privet hedge: 

1. You are totally out of your fucking mind.
2. You hate the world and want to destroy it. 

If you have any other reason than those two let me explain just how much of a damned idiot you must be. The privet hedge, and there are at least nine species in the United States, is the botanical spawn of Satan. It will grow everywhere. It smothers native plants. Its flower smells like a combination of your old Aunt Wanda’s perfume and ass wax. And, it’s damn near impossible to kill. After you’ve poisoned it, burned it, stomped on the roots, and brought in a priest to exorcise the ground it was growing in, chances are it will still sprout up the following year. 

Proving that slavery, witch burning and fruitcake weren’t the ONLY abominations our American forefathers could institute into the new country, the first privet hedge was introduced to the United States in the 1700s. Glossy privet was followed by Japanese privet, which was followed by Chinese privet, and then at least two other variations that some countries wised up enough to not put their damn names on. Privett was useful for those early American pioneers who wanted to keep their neighbors out of their damn yards. While I sympathize, a 10-foot-high barrier made of mud or dogshit might have been a better choice – and smelled better, too. 

Of course, as any story involving a plant that seemed like a good idea at the time, the son-of-a-bitch started spreading every damn where and crowding out native plants. Then butterflies, bees that had any sense, and any insect who wasn’t just stopping to take a shit on the leaves said, “Screw this,” and flew off to find something that didn’t automatically make them want to vomit. Privet grows so fast and so dense that it crowds out tree seedlings from getting any sunlight as well as any native shrubs that might have once thrived in the area. It also reproduces faster than the damn Dugger family, both producing ugly seeds and runners underground. 

New Zealand, that sacred democracy that managed to avoid Covid-19 AND Florida-Georgia Line, has declared war on privet hedge. Did you see a privet hedge in those “Lord of the Rings” movies? No, you did not, because if you see a privet hedge in New Zealand you call the government who calls in a hit squad and they kill that fucker by whatever means necessary. If they saw you planting one, they’d surely cut your damn arm off and feed it to a dragon. 

Maybe it’s a losing battle, but they have to protect those little hobbit bastards somehow. 

Yours in Christ, 

Russell Upsumdinar

The Nandina Bush 

Our time at home during this coronavirus event is the perfect time to get outside and beautify your yard. However, if anyone ever tells you to plant a nandina bush, shoot them in the goddamn foot. It would be a shame if you missed and took out an entire leg, but, if you did, well, they told you to plant a goddamn nandina bush, didn’t they? 

Nandinas are native to Asia and they are sometimes called “heavenly bamboo” or “sacred bamboo.” Let’s establish, that that’s only the first lie about this piece of shit plant. It’s NOT bamboo. It’s not “heavenly” and anybody who holds it sacred must belong to some truly pitiful douchebag religion. The nandina is part of the Berberidaceae family of plants, which includes the barberry, and if that’s your best relative you’ve got a pretty worthless damn family. Some son-of-a-bitch named William Kerr brought the nandina from China to England in 1804 and then SOME son-of-a-bitch brought it to the United States. And someone convinced some son-of-a-bitch who owned my house before I owned it to plant fucking nandina bushes in the yard. It will probably take nuclear annihilation to get rid of them, because nothing has worked yet. 

Asshole landscapers love the damn things, because nandinas have lovely foliage and produce beautiful red berries that attract gorgeous songbirds and landscapers’ idiot clients say “Sure, I’ll take three.” It’s especially attractive to cedar waxwings, one of America’s MOST beautiful songbirds and one with a particularly sweet little song if you’re lucky enough to hear it. Unfortunately, after cedar waxwings gorge on the berries of the nandina bush they sing a song with bird lyrics that go something like “What the fuck did I just eat?” 

And then they die. 

Yes, nandinas, or “heavenly bamboo” send songbirds to heaven, because those beautiful red berries contain a significant amount of cyanide. Cyanide. That’s the same thing that Jim Jones put in his Guyana Kool-Aid. And, yes, Kool-Aid company, I know it wasn’t really YOUR Kool-Aid, it was some shitty off-brand, because Jim Jones was not only a homicidal maniac, he was a cheap motherfucker, too. In fact, the whole fucking nandina plant contains cyanide, so if Jim Jones’ didn’t want to pony up for pure cyanide he probably could’ve just boiled the roots, the stems, the leaves or the berries and mixed it with that goddamn cut-rate Kool-Aid and killed everybody at a real discount. Goddamn nandinas are everywhere. I’m sure they’ve spread to Guyana. 

Nandinas spread both by runners AND seeds from the berries, which have the natural advantage of sprouting in the fertile bellies of dead and rotting songbirds. 

The worthless pieces of shit have finally been declared an invasive species in many states, but some asshole plant nurseries still sell the fucking things and they show up in pitiful flower arrangements on a regular basis. Burn the damn things when you see them. And, I’ll say it again: If someone suggests you plant a nandina SHOOT THEM IN THE GODDAMN FOOT! 

Yours in Christ, 

Russell Upsumdinar 

(Note: The Angry Gardener is presented for entertainment and educational purposes only and does not actually advocate any sort of violence. A better plan would simply be telling someone who suggests you plant a nandina that the suggestion makes you so angry that you FEEL like shooting them in the foot, but you don’t want to violate you probation, because they don’t give you many second chances after murder, so you just wish they wouldn’t ever, ever suggest planting a goddamn-fucking-piece-of-shit nandina bush.)

The Bradford Pear 

At the first hint of spring across the south there’s a wash of beautiful white blossoms on a delicate tree. The Native Americans in the Appalachians call this “What the fuck?” because there was never a tree that bloomed so early in the year before or one that was such a goddamn nuisance. 

Native Americans, like the rest of us, would note, the aroma of these little white blossoms hold a subtle hint of lavender, but mostly it’s a mixture of county fair vomit and formula-fed babyshit. 

This is the Bradford Pear, the Frankenstein monster of the nursery industry that some fucking idiots still put in their yards. If you see one and have a chainsaw fire the fucker up and cut the goddamn thing down. This might make your neighbors angry, but I’m sure they’ll understand when you explain: 

Botanists with an eye for beauty created the Bradford Pear as an ornamental. Its blossoms were plentiful, it didn’t get too big and its limbs seemed to reach for the sky! To top it off, the trees were sterile, so only nurseries would be able to supply them. All-in-all, it seemed like the perfect little tree the burgeoning suburbia of the 1960s. It sure did. It sure did. It sure … . 

Soon the goddamn things were everywhere and every chucklefuck with a hole in his or her yard or park put a fucking Bradford Pear in. 

Then something started to happen. The trees weren’t what people had claimed they were. See, the Bradford Pear is like that crazy girlfriend you had that was so hot that you told yourself over and over that she wasn’t crazy. The question that no one wants to ask because no one wants the answer is: “If she’s so fucking hot and she’s not fucking crazy why is she fucking YOU?” You know there’s only one reason and it’s not because you’re so good looking. No, it's because she IS fucking crazy!

The Bradford Pear is like if that crazy girlfriend told you she couldn’t get pregnant and then got pregnant, but the kids just kept coming and they were crazier than she was. The Bradford Pear, as it turned out, cross-pollinates with any other pear, fucks up the offspring of THOSE pears, and then produces worthless little balls filled with potent little seeds that spread every-goddamn-where. 

Crazy Girlfriend, can’t you keep your panties on and quit fucking my friends and neighbors? The whole countryside seems to be filled with your idiot kids. 

The Bradford Pear offspring are typically callery pears, which are full of thorns and turn into thickets so dense that the only way to clear them is by bulldozers. BULLDOZERS! Like the Bradford Pear, they don’t produce edible fruit. Too boot, those original Bradford Pears are so weak that their limbs break off almost just for spite and they fall the fuck apart over anything - just like that crazy girlfriend who blamed you for it. And, suddenly, we have no native pears, because Bradford-Fucking-Frankenstein has replaced them. That doesn't even address the fact that the sons-of-bitches produce pollen that fuck up your allergies for weeks!

These trees are not natural. In fact, any goddamned fruit tree that has been denatured so that it blooms big but does not produce fruit is not normal. Anybody who plants a tree like that should starve for a goddamn week. Maybe a real peach or pear tree doesn’t bloom quite as big for your chickenshit neighbors to marvel at, but it produces fucking fruit like it’s supposed to. 

If you plant a tree, plant a tree that does what nature intended for it to do or don’t plant one at all. 

And if you see a Bradford Pear, cut the son-of-a-bitch down.

Yours in Christ, 

Russell Upsumdinar

(Note: The Angry Gardener is meant for entertainment and educational purposes only and does not actually advocate cutting down Bradford Pear trees that are not owned by the person intending to cut said tree down. A more realistic solution would be reading the above article to the owner of a Bradford Pear and encouraging them to cut the tree down themselves. Loan them a fucking chainsaw if you have one.)