Ivy: Not necessarily a good choice

This ivy has climbed forty feet up the trunk of an unsuspecting oak tree. If you look closely you can see the dead vines, where over the years, the ivy has been cut back. Ivy is a persistent noxious weed and is to be avoided in riparian terrain.  


It all began with a visit to my 95 year old cousin, Helen. When I looked out her dining room window, I discovered that the Persian Ivy along the porch was blocking the view. My solution was to grab a pair of pruning shears and get to work. 

As I cut back the hanging vines, gobs of dry leaves fell on my head. This caused me to be concerned about fire danger. Not only that, but the ivy vines had wormed their way across the porch and were into the window trim. After my meager attempt to clear the view, Cousin Helen hired someone to come in and do some serious pruning which involved cutting the ivy back to the trunks (which were at least 1 inch in diameter). Yes, there is still ivy at her house but at least it is somewhat controlled and from her window, she now has a great view. 

This brings me to the past two plus months and the need to socially isolate. For me, this has actually been a “good thing”.   My time has been spent working in the garden. While my husband tackled Bermuda grass in the vegetable garden, I have pulled in excess of 100 wheelbarrow loads of weeds, mainly needle grass and foxtails. I have been trying to get rid of these weeds before the seed heads shatter. This effort has been only partially successful.

My other landscaping project, because of my experience with the Persian Ivy, has been to get control of the English ivy (Hedera) in the Redwood copse. No, I did not plant the ivy, but I have taken on the challenge of eradicating it. Over the past 13 years, the ivy has inched its way out of the confines of the redwoods and into the planters. Since this area is now somewhat under control, it is wonderful to be able to use the redwood copse. This area is shady and cool, or at least cooler, on our hot summer days, and a perfect place to sit with family or friends and just watch the world go by.

At this point in my venture, I am a proponent of “never Ivy”. English ivy is actually on several lists of noxious-weeds. It can grow to be 90 feet long and can cover trees and bushes causing damage to the native habitat. We have been battling ivy in the riparian areas along the creek bottom for years. We are losing the battle of preserving native habitat, mainly because the ivy has been joined by Himalayan blackberries, and climbing roses. We are just grateful that the ivy, blackberries, and roses haven’t been joined by Pampas grass, Scotch broom and bamboo.

So, if you have the urge to plant ivy, be smart about it. Plant your ivy in a pot or in an enclosed area. It is a beautiful plant – just make sure it doesn’t take over or escape. And please do us all a favor and be very careful about planting invasive species.

The Red Bluff Garden Club is affiliated with the Cascade District Garden Club; California Garden Clubs, Inc; Pacific Region Garden Clubs and Natural Garden Clubs Inc. 


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