Just out of interest, I looked up on Wikipedia about them, and came up with this: ‘ Lantana is a genus of about 150 species of perennial flowering plants in the verbena family, Verbenaceae. They are native to tropical regions of the Americas and Africa but exist as an introduced species in numerous areas, especially in the Australian-Pacific region, South and Northeastern part of India.’ Then I shockingly read somewhere else that it is one of the world’s top 100 invasive species, and also found out it was toxic to dogs and cats.

Hmm. Nowhere does it say it is a nuisance bush in Portugal. Nowhere does it tell you how much it smells of cat pee. Nowhere did I read how hard it is to control it until I looked up how to prune it. Mine is a hedge that had grown over 6ft high, mainly because I had taken my eye off the ball, and it had taken advantage of my neglectfulness and was now like a bed of triffids, insistent on slowly taking over the world. It had grown aggressively and persistently bigger and thicker, and would definitely keep out herds of marauding wildebeest if there were any around, and I had been lulled into a false sense of security because it blooms prolifically, little heads of multicoloured flowers that look really pretty and attract bees, but the plant was insidiously growing every year. Each plant was not only extending its spiky, woody arms to hug its neighbour, but giving birth to little suckers from the base, being educated to join in the mayhem. I read that it should be watered occasionally (but it had only ever got a half-hearted squirt of water when I saw it was looking a bit wilted) and I had also half-heartedly pruned back growth lower down that was hanging over the path, so it is obviously the sort of plant that thrives on neglect.

Well, this year I was in charge, ruthlessly cutting my way through the tangle, it was like making my way through a bramble bush, and bit by bit each plant was reduced to a measly handful of sticks, each barely six inches long, sitting in a bare expanse of soil. It fought back, I have the scars to prove it, but finally I triumphantly stood there, metaphorically with clenched fist raised, dripping sweat and the odd drop of blood, battle won, wheelbarrow brimming with those wretched tentacles, and the job was done. I fleetingly wondered if I might have overdone it in my enthusiasm to take back control - it all looked a bit sad (and dead if I am truthful) and I hoped the birds would find somewhere else to rear their young this year, as one or two nests had fallen out during my blitz.

Well, not a week or so later, what with the bouts of rain and sunshine, tiny little green leaves are appearing on those dead sticks - the giants are awakening to have another go - but I have learned my lesson now, and I will be lurking in its shadow, secateurs at the ready, and will cut it back earlier!