Newest Review: ... a bad thing as I have seen on numerous occasions the plant becomes out of control. Ivy has totally constricted and killed a large tree in o... more
This beautiful plant comes with a warning...
Member Name: loopy-lou33
Date: 07/12/10, updated on 07/12/10 (252 review reads)
Advantages: Provides colour in winter. Good for wildlife.
Disadvantages: Grows like crazy!
I'm sitting here in the warmth looking out into the frost covered garden. Obviously, at this time of year, there isn't a lot of colour or interest, but one plant in the garden always looks fantastic no matter what time of the year it is. The Ivy plant. The Ivy plant that we have in our garden covers the whole back fence, creating a deep green backdrop for the rest of the garden. We have a couple of evergreen trees planted against the Ivy, and this creates a beautiful constast of colours and textures. Used correctly, Ivy can be a useful addition to a garden, but it needs to be used carefully, as I will discuss later in this review.
The Ivy plant, or Hedera Helix in Latin, is a climbing plant that can grow almost anywhere, in any type of soil. Even if you are not green fingered, you will be able to grow Ivy in your garden, even in shady spots where nothing else will grow. Although common, the plant comes in a beautiful variety of colours, and the different types also vary in leaf shape and size. One of the most common varieties that you see in gardens is called "Goldheart", and as the name suggests, it has a variegated leaf with a gold centre. This can look particularly stunning when planted near a shrub with red foliage, or berries, as the combination of green, red and gold looks quite festive and works well. Other vaieties incluse Hedera colchica, which has an oval shaped emerald green leaf, and Hedera hibernica, which has the more typical shaped Ivy leaf in a very deep green shade. You can also get a variety with white veins on a dark green leaf called Hedera Caenwoodiana, so the Ivy you choose for your garden is really up to your personal taste.
Ivy has practical uses, and we grow it up the wall at the side of our house for two reasons. Firstly, to cover up a patch of graffiti on the wall, and secondly, as a barrier, to prevent more graffiti appearing! People have mixed views about growing Ivy up walls, and it is certainly something that should be considered very carfully. It is a myth that Ivy will damage your wall. If your brickwork is sound, the Ivy will not damage the wall, in fact, it provides natural protection against the weather, as well as an extra layer of insulation. However, if you decide to remove the Ivy, this can be extremely difficult, as the stems can grow very thick and are hard to cut. Also, once removed, the plant will leave its suckers on the wall, which can look really unsightly. A problem that we have with our wall Ivy, is that it goes mad in the summer, and we have to constantly prune it to stop it growing too high up the wall and into the roof. Ivy is no good for people who haven't the time, or energy to keep it in check and stop it running riot. Another slight concern I have about our wall Ivy is the though of wasps nesting in it, although it hasn't happened yet!
Ivy is an absolutely brilliant plant for encouraging wildlife in the garden. It actually produces very small flowers quite late in the year, and these provide food for insects after most of the garden flowers have died. Ivy provides an excellent shelter for birds and bugs, and we were even lucky enough to have some blackbirds nesting in our Ivy at the bottom of the garden. This is the perfect plant if you want to encourage nature to flourish in your back garden. Our garden is very small, but it is a haven for small creatures and birds.
Ivy is also useful in winter containers and planters to add colour and interest during the cold months. It is also an excellent houseplant. The advantage of keeping it in a container is that it can't grow too rampant! A friend of mine often uses Ivy in flower arrangements, and pinched some of our Ivy when she wanted a particular type of leaf for use in buttonholes at a wedding. Hope there weren't too many spiders in there!
Ivy has what are called "adventitious roots", which are little roots that grow from the stem and help the plant to cling to surfaces. Because of this, we do tend to have a problem in our garden with the Ivy rooting itself everywhere and creeping up the borders and around the trees. Keeping it cut back is a big job, and you also need somewhere to put all of the pruned off pieces of Ivy. Once you have planted Ivy, you have lots of work ahead of you, or your garden will be consumed! Again, if this is a worry, you would be better planting the Ivy in a container or pot, rather than directly in the soil.
In conclusion, Ivy is a useful, colourful plant that adds interest to the garden all year round, as well as being a haven for wildlife. Left unckecked though, it can go a bit crazy and take over the garden. It can be a weed, as the definition of a weed is a plant in the wrong place, but used correctly, this plant will be a lovely adition to your garden.
Summary: Consider carefully before planting.
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