Love it or loathe it, my Ivy is here to stay

Over the last year I have often mentioned the ivy that grows on the stone wall around my garden.  Generally I am complaining about it and hailing, loudly, “It has to go”.   As though it is sticking two fingers up at me, the more I cut it the more it grows.   Anyone who has ivy will agree that it seems to thrive on being cut.  I deliberately say cut and not pruned, because pruning is not a sufficient enough deterrent.  I have even tried to cut it off at the roots but to my amazement  it seem to just be living off the wall.


 Left to its own devices it would take over the flower beds and lawn.   Part of my regular garden regime is to pull up  runners and the little seedlings that have been dispersed by the birds when they have eaten the berries.   The trunk of the ivy on the bottom wall has been sawn through twice but it continues to grow green and lush.   If I really want rid of it, I will have to dig a large hole around the base, drill into the roots and apply a killer such at Root Out.   Before I do this I have to be sure I really want it all gone or just that I need to spend more time keeping it under control.


Love it or loathe it Hedera Helix is part of my garden therefore, after 10 years of fighting it, in 2012 I will view it from a different angle and embrace its virtues.

  • Although it is probably doing dreadful damage to the stone wall, it gives height and privacy to the garden.
  • It provides a wonderful home for birds and insects alike
  • The garden has all year round greenery
  • It is great for attracting wildlife
  • From late summer to late autumn the small creamy coloured flowers are  rich in nectar for bees and insects, and
  • In the winter the purple-black berries  provide an important source of winter food for a large variety of birds.

As I have signed up for the Big Wild Life Garden the ivy will have a stay of execution but will be subjected to more regular haircuts than in previous years.  I will  learn not to complain about it (too much anyway) and enjoy it, knowing that I am doing my bit for the British wildlife.

Charles Dickens wrote a poem about ivy, although I dispute his referring to it as “dainty”.  I chose this poem because my ivy is growing over an old Victorian stone wall which does appear to feed it.

The Green Ivy  by Charles Dickens

Oh, a dainty plant is the Ivy green,
That creepeth o’er ruins old!
Of right choice food are his meals, I ween,
In his cell so lone and cold.
The wall must be crumbled, the stone decayed,
To pleasure his dainty whim:
And the mouldering dust that years have made
Is a merry meal for him.
      Creeping where no life is seen,
      A rare old plant is the Ivy green.


  1. Hi, just seen your blog, I’ve just been ‘trimming’ my ivy earlier this afternoon. I love it for its year round colour and its benefits for wildlife, but it drive it takes everything over that’s in its way. I’ve been waiting for its flowers and berries to go over before I cut it back. I can see the roses it was disguising now, and unfortunately some of the not so attractive brick wall. It’s a pain but if I don’t do it it grows down the other side of the wall and then back up again, and that really is hard work to sort out. But hey, I love ‘gardening’ 🙂


  2. Ivy can be a nuisance, I just pull up seedlings and any of it which invades onto borders. But I do love those berries at this time of year. I like to use the berried ivy in Christmas decorations


  3. Hi Ronnie,

    Lovely post, and indeed Ivy is very important!

    I’d love to have one, but with no large wall or suitable space to contain such a specimen I’m a bit stuck as I really want one for the birds and insects but can’t see a feasible way to have one. We used to have one of these huge ones in a house I lived in years ago. My neighbour said she’d been watching it steadily grow along the stone wall at the back of all our houses for the past 30 years as it had started down at the bottom of the road. We allowed it to creep over the outhouse and had to cut it back a few times a year and as you said – I too was amazed to see it still alive on the fence and walls after having been severed!

    We had blackbirds nesting in it and no doubt many other creatures – rats too I fear or else the rat was coming from elsewhere. It was also a haven for snails, but then the rat/birds would eat the snails so I guess it’s swings and roundabouts 😀

    I’ve a lovely christmas table decoration with the more delicate type of ivy that I’m considering planting in the garden, but I know it will not produce the berries and blooms but it will at least provide the shelter and hide my horrible red-stained back fence.


    • Blackbirds love to nest in my ivy too, along with the millions of snails that adore the combination of the ivy and a stone wall. It really does spread, if you look out of upstairs windows you can see it all down the other gardens. I like to think it didnt stem from my garden though 😀


  4. I have a similar relationship with a native plant here called Obedient plant…if the hummingbirds didn’t love it so much I would be a crazy woman working 24/7 to pull it out to no avail…I love your ivy…it is an ivy we do not see here in the US…at least I have never seen it…ours never flowers or gets those gorgeous berries…


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