Thursday, 15 October 2009

Thursdays favourite plant

The much maligned Hedera (Ivy)

I say much maligned because this plant does get a bit of a bad rap sometimes, But I think its a really versatile plant that can be used in so many ways, and theres so many different varieties other than just the plain old green.

People often say that ivy will pull your house down (if its growning up the walls) This is only true if your walls are dodgy, then yes it will probably damage the brick work/plaster etc. Also it can grow through wooden window frames (if you let it) So if you have it or want it growing up your house you just need to keep an eye on it and chop it back if it gets unruly. Another thing to be careful with is fencing, if you have that overlapping (can't think of its proper name) fencing it can push between the panels.

So negative stuff over with.

Ivy grows and climbs by having adventitious roots, which means roots growing out of the stem. That's how it attaches itself to stuff and how if you have it growing in the ground (by choice or not) it spreads and roots everywhere. You can use this to advantage if you want to propagate it or if you want to train it to grow a certain way.

I have loads of pots of little young Ivies, they are so useful for filling hanging baskets and window boxes, especially this time of year. I also have it dotted around in the house as houseplants in the winter and use tones of it as decorations Christmas wouldn't be Christmas with out Ivy (and holly). You can make topiary with Ivy by planting some in a pot and making a frame out of some wire and then training the Ivy round the frame (here's how to).

Ivy looks really good grown up through old trees and is a gorgeous when the tendrils hang down trough the branches. It also can provide a good screen if grown up a trellis or archway (just make sure its strong and firmly pushed in to the ground.

There are some amazing varieties I love....

Hedera colchica that has beautiful large heart shaped leaves in creamy white and green

Hedera 'Buttercup' little yellow leaves

Hedera 'Glacier' This is the baby one that I use all the time (I say baby its a Young one in a 9 cm pot)

Ivy is also a really really important plant for wildlife. A thick tangled mass of Ivy provides nesting for birds, there is a pub near me with it growing up the wall and in the spring there are what seems like hundreds of sparrows chattering away in there. It also provides nectar in the autumn for insects and over wintering butterflies like the tortoise-shell, and berries for birds in the winter. If you have or our planning a wildlife garden or area you'll definitely need some.


Re said...

We have loads of mature ivy, the flowers and the berries are just gorgeous and of course a boon for wildlife. The birds also love to nest in the thick ivy and wrens adore it.

John Gray said...

no posts in a while jess......u ok???


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