These were Red Barberry bushes, planted by dingdongs who wanted to landscape with cheap, deer-resistant shrubs. It's true that the deer hate them. EVERYONE hates them. Except birds, which is a good time to remind everyone that birdbrain is not a compliment.
The Red or Japanese Barberry is an invasive species, brought here from Japan to cultivate. Thanks to the birds it has slipped the leash, and now goes on its merry way, choking native plants, usually in stealth mode (meaning, "seedlings generally revert to the green form" per the Native Plants site, so you don't always see them until they've strangled everything).
You can use special power tools to get rid of these things, but the only power tool I had that was useful was the hedge clipper. After they were trimmed back as far as possible, it was down to the shovel, the saw, the plank (for leverage), and hand-to-hand combat, ripping out roots from underneath. As you can see, there's latticework right behind this shrub, which made it difficult to use leverage to the best advantage. Plus, the bastards fought like hell. They have roots like cables, and pricklers that can pierce leather work gloves. I think Little Shop of Horrors was inspired by them.
|Now I got a hole in my plants.|