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For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

Posted by catkim San Diego 10/24 (My Page) on
Fri, Apr 6, 12 at 12:48

GardenWeb won't let me imbed a YouTube link here, so for maximum viewing pleasure, open a new window and search for "Ivy, Mammas and Pappas". Play the music while viewing the photos, it's much more entertaining that way. ;-)

This photo essay is intended to explain my personal aversion to ivy. This does not mean ivy is ALWAYS an inappropriate choice. These are my personal views only. End of disclaimer. Each photo was taken this morning within 50 yards or less of the front door of my rental home. This is a densely populated beach community in Southern California. The low end price for properties here is around $450,000 for a junker on a postage stamp lot. Here you have ample opportunity to view Hedera helix growing in a controlled suburban environment.

Fences are an attractive nuisance for ivy. Two months ago, this was fully 8 feet in height, but has been "trimmed" to a height of about 4 1/2 feet.
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The other side of the fence. This may have started out as a groundcover, who knows..

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A few doors down, and spreading to the next door victim...
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Here we have the manicured version, what most people expect when they plant ivy.
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Don't turn your back, though; it's just dying to climb this tree.
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And around the corner, you can see evidence of an ongoing struggle:
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This neighbor is getting up in years, probably needs a kind-hearted soul to go up the ladder for him:
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If the music is still playing click the link below and clap along...

Here is a link that might be useful: Trees with ivy


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

I already love this thread because it's about a plant I like... no, LOVE! As I view your photos and ask myself what they show, I see they illustrate that English Ivy CAN grow well, too, in southern California. They show also, that it can be abused and neglected. That it's a plant with problem solving capabilities. That people plant it in situations where it's not well suited. The first picture is akin to me showing this:

And then claiming that Mercedes is a crappy car! It looks like you're trying to show that someone got angry at a vine last year because it was growing in a place not wanted, sprayed it with Round-up and then came back the following year griping that it's ugly. You're trying to make the way people treat plants the fault of the plants. You're blaming the victim. Your other pictures show that English ivy can grow green, lush and handsome and obviously tolerate some very adverse, wildly varying conditions. A big plus for it and I'm sure there are situations in where it would be the best solution and most welcome. While you illustrate well that its use should be well thought out--it doesn't work well growing on structures--it's simply not the fault of the plant that people misuse it. It works best for sizable areas and kept of a buildings. I've never professed differently. Your intention with this thread is not about sticking to facts and truth. You're trying to propagate your emotions, beliefs and opinion because you feel strongly about it. But it's not about facts. This thread illustrates that you must hate other vines, too, as they can create the same situations. For every picture you can show of a English ivy being misused, a picture could easily be produced showing it well used. What's the point?

Are we to conclude that grass is evil?


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

"When English ivy (Hedera helix) climbs trees and other structures, its form of growth changes and begins to produce fruits and seeds. Ivy seeds may be eaten by bird and mammal species or simply fall to the ground, facilitating both short and long distance dispersal. To slow and stop the further spread of ivy in Stanley Park, it�s important to reduce and eliminate the production of ivy fruit and seeds."

From the website below.

Karin L

Here is a link that might be useful: Stanley Park Ecology Society


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

Nothing like pictures being worth thousands of words. Scanned a few articles with comments from the grounds keepers at the Ivy League schools - no snails, but up on a ladder trying to save bricks & mortar, shutters & wood trim, it tends to be the flurry of birds and bats that gives them a start.

I'm amazed at how woody it becomes over time - and the point I was trying to make in another thread was this tends to be the state of affairs by the time many ivy growers finally decide to do something. The stuff is insidious.

This was posted here before, but someone may have missed it.

Here is a link that might be useful: The cloak of invisibility


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

Yes, Duluth, a picture is worth a thousand words. It boils down to this... you have to use ivy in the appropriate place and then it works... and is ecologically responsible, too! Let's peel it off for the planet!


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

I worry sometimes that my worldview has been defined in large part by the science fiction B movies of my youth. While I love teasing our southern friends about triffids masquerading as palm trees, a monoculture of english ivy totally looks to me like The Blob, devouring everything in it's path. Even the original cinema poster read , "INDESCRIBABLE! INDESTRUCTIBLE! NOTHING CAN STOP IT!"


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

  • Posted by catkim San Diego 10/24 (My Page) on
    Fri, Apr 6, 12 at 18:08

Just returned from a 4 hour bike ride, covering a good chunk of the San Diego coastline. I took my camera along and actually went in search of well-tended swaths of ivy. It must exist. Whether at a school, some medical center complex, one of the resort hotels, perhaps at the sportfishing marina? I went looking in places where they would have staff to properly tend plantings, and included everything from public parking lot islands to quality bayfront resorts, and everything in between.

This is really strange, because I fully expected to find at least one well-placed patch of Hedera helix, and I found NONE. Actually, not one single speck of ivy, anywhere, in these public areas. It's not even planted along the freeways. This appears to be the plant of non-choice among landscape professionals in San Diego.

This demonstrates a completely unanticipated counterpoint to the Mercedes Benz example. If I had encountered, say 25 Mercedes during my 4-hour bike ride, chances are not even one would have looked as bad as the photo posted above. But let's say at least one would have been funky looking -- old, and maybe with a few dings, or a degraded paint job. With the ivy, of all the examples I saw, the most attractive one is photo number 5, above, and ALL the other plantings, which were exclusively around private homes, were miserably placed and overgrown. So, at least around San Diego, poorly placed and untended ivy is the rule, not the exception.

Incidentally, I did clearly state at the beginning of the thread that this is my personal opinion. I believe I am entitled to my own opinion, and others are entitled to theirs. I am not interested in trying to change anyone's mind, I am merely showing how I arrived my own aversion to Hedera helix.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

Ivy presents itself as a pernicious noxious plant in temperate California and other temperate areas of the US .
Some horticultural and agricultural astute jurisdictions in Washington, Oregon and California have banned the planting of ivy due to its invasiveness.
It easily escapes its original intended location and has found itself clogging out the native plant habitat in woodland and riparian areas.
In urban and suburban areas where it easily takes root from birds droppings , ivy has caused enormous amount$ of property damage. It can take down a wooden fence, destroy masonry and infiltrate a house in a short amount of time.
It is an opportunistic thug that wreaks ecological havoc in forests and urban areas alike.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

you have to use ivy in the appropriate place and then it works... and is ecologically responsible, too

There is nothing "ecologically responsible" about planting English ivy. It is rampantly invasive in most winter temperate areas of this country, is perniciously difficult to eradicate if established where it is not wanted, is not nearly as efficient at erosion control/slope stablization as many people think and is a natural and extremely popular habitat for vermin.....i.e. rats.

Its bad rap is very well deserved - the northern and western equivalent to kudzu - and I will continue to caution against planting it. It is a documented invasive species in 18 states and the District of Columbia and naturalized in another 15. I am fairly certain the only reason it is not listed in the remaining states is because it is yet to gain a serious foothold. But it could and no doubt will....especially if more displayed such a cavalier attitude to its appropriateness in any planting situation.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

  • Posted by catkim San Diego 10/24 (My Page) on
    Fri, Apr 6, 12 at 20:46

Adrienne, here is your own private nightmare: Blob Devours Triffid in Broad Daylight!
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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

English ivy is a terrible thing here on the East Coast. Catkim's pics make me want to cry. I hate to see it in our parks, choking out everything in its path. I have had it along the foundation of our house, growing into the dark, dark basement. It grows inside! With no light whatsoever!

It grows in the (now) vacant lot next to me. I have been battling it for almost 15 years. I hesitated to use roundup, but the ivy laughs it off anyway. The strong underground vines are so firmly entwined with tree roots that it is impossible to dig it all out. My neighbor tries to run it over with his lawnmower but he only manages to cut the leaves, not the vine itself. He wants to try gasoline but that makes me nervous (he loves gasoline and tying things to the back of his pickup).

I had some trees taken down on the property line last winter and used the woodchips to try to create a 2-foot barrier. I dug out and cut back what I could. I plan to spray the underside of any new leaves. Wish me luck. I am getting too old for this. I fantasize about going back in time and murdering the person who planted this stuff in the first place.

It is ugly and nasty. My elbow still bothers me from this last assault. To add insult to injury, I also suffered a terrible case of poison ivy (IN THE WINTER) because some poison ivy had been mixed up with it.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

@ catkim - OMG!!!!!


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

  • Posted by jkom51 Z9 CA/Sunset 17 (My Page) on
    Sat, Apr 7, 12 at 22:24

I love my neighbor - literally, a great family that's been good neighbors for over twenty years - but she's got THAT PLANT on her back fence and a section in the middle of her backyard that adjoins mine.

Like their Bermuda grass, it's a constant struggle to keep her invasive weeds out of my yard. A 150' property line doesn't sound like much....except when you have to regularly patrol it, all year long, decade after decade!

Round-up only works on lightweight stuff. For ivy you have to surrender and use the really nasty Bayer Brushkiller herbicide. It's the only thing I've found that really works - for a while.

Roof rats LOVE ivy. Anytime you see ivy, you've got a nice, big, thriving colony. I once saw one in the backyard that I swear was at least 3' long....ick!


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Sun, Apr 8, 12 at 11:35

I'm surprised the Georgia lover of English ivy isn't observant enough to note that these California photos of Ivy ain't it... Our more commonly planted Hedera canariense is even faster growing, but just as prone to reseed via bird droppings over wide geographic distances. I was hoping someone would post a photo of an engulfed Mexican Fan palm, I've seen similar engulfing of Sequoia sempervirens, Coast Redwoods in the town of La Honda in San Mateo County. Such heavy growth of ivy can cause redwoods to fall when the create windsail effect on trees growing on 45 degree slopes, I've seen it happen, and in this particular instance it was Hedera helix which is better adapted to invading in deeply shaded redwood forest conditions. Our Georgia Ivy expert is also either ignorant of ivy and snails in west coast conditions, or merely incurious to research the topic when categorically asserting ivy doesn't encourage snail populations and the rats that come to eat them. In fact, other large leafed evergreen ground covers such as Agapanthus can also be equally attractive to snails, but ivy, and especially Algerian Ivy are prime snail habitat in a Mediterranean climate. I also find Whitecap's comments about horticultural certitude in the face of ignorance of the type of surroundings to an Ivy planting of little relevance. Either that, or again willful ignorance of how bird drop ivy seedlings can be just as annoying in a neighbor's garden as they can be potentially invasive in a wilder forest or riparian setting. Some people seem to get offended about the topic of invasive species and responsible gardening, even going as far to champion them as environmentally appropriate...

A more careful reading of posts rather than immediate thoughts of rebuttal might be in order, as no assertion was made that Ivy engulfs trees in the same way Kudzu vine does, nor that Ivy outgrows Kudzu. Fortunately Kudzu isn't a problem pest plant here in coastal California; my comparison had more to do with Ivy's similar fast growing ability to take over large areas with time, and further spread at perimeters of growth and leap frog into new areas via bird spread seed. I also think it reflects hubris to purposely plant large areas to Ivy in zones where it is a declared invasive, and think that your plantings will NEVER become a problem over time. These are my own views on English and Algerian Ivies, and a reasoned point by point reaction supporting them as more than just old wive's tales. In my opinion, restrict English ivy to containers, potted collections of named cultivars or as an indoor plant; but don't use it as the default ground cover for an entire garden.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

I dislike Ivy and think it shouldn't be sold as much as it is. It can easily take over, especially if left to wonder and always had to be maintained, its a very high maintenance vine.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

"These are my own views on English and Algerian Ivies..."

From the beginning to now, the only plant I've offered support for was Hedera helix. Not anything else. While I questioned whether the 5th photo was in fact H. helix, I'm not arguing about photo id. There's no way from a photo, with the hundreds of variations English ivy alone has, that I can discern it from canariensis when the only obvious difference is size. The palm tree came later and I question it, too. It doesn't look like H. helix. But it could be. A photograph cannot determine if it is or isn't. If people on the west coast don't like H. canariensis, I have nothing at all to say about the matter. I might jump on the bandwagon with them were I there. And why anyone would use H. canariensis if helix was available is a mystery to me.

I don't know what it is about people who refuse to see that "invasive somewhere" does not mean invasive and uncontrollable EVERYWHERE. This thread started as an offshoot of another where an argument developed because in the southeastern US, I recommended Hedera helix (not canariensis) for a lawn substitute in dry shade conditions that was presently large areas of dirt. This caused someone to jump in a lob off charges of ecological irresponsibility. This is nonsense because in MANY areas, Hedera helix is not just a fine choice as a shade lawn substitute, it's the best choice. In many areas there is not a close second. Nevertheless, this caused everyone who doesn't like English ivy for whatever reason... an irrational fear or lack of knowledge of how to control it, or it was banned where they live or whatever, to jump in and denigrate Hedera helix and my recommendation of it. It makes no difference to me that you all don't want it or like it. What makes a difference is that you decry its use where it is reasonable and sensible. Oh, that's not anywhere? It is simply that attitude I find over the top. I know for a fact that there are places where English ivy is the best choice. It may not be where you live, but many people in the American southeast would not be happy to live without it. One can fear it, or learn how to manage it and put it to work.

If one wants to offer evidence such as trees falling over, they need to cite the scientific report that lays the claim.

Bahia, you used the word "smother" in your claim of what H. helix does to trees. I know of no meaning for that word other than to cut off the victim plant's light source.

Even when escaped in forested areas, H. helix does not kill any trees. Kudzu, on the other hand kills ALL the trees. But it's a great way to get rid of that unwanted forest.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

Yardvaark,
Here in the western United States where native redwood tree migration has established itself , it is wide spread knowledge in the forestry and horticultural professions that ivy can take down a redwood tree.

A simple google search will help you understand why those of us in the west are concerned with the spread of English Ivy and its cousins, especially in forest and riparian areas. The U.S. Forest Service and the Calif. Dept of Forestry are good educational sites to help you understand the concern in abating this noxious weed.
This link has a good description of the "Ivy Desert" dilemma and how it 'smothers' a tree : http://www.jclandtrust.org/pdfs/english_ivy.pdf

If English ivy isn't a noxious weed in your area, I'm pleased as punch that you can plant it with wild abandon and clear conscience, but for those of us who live in areas of the country where it is an insidious weed, it is best to remove it or not plant it at all for the benefit of the eco-system.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

I was somewhat bemused to discover, the other day, that my local "Invasive Species" council had solemnly entered holly fern into the register of proscribed plants.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

The state-funded Georgia Exotic Pest Plant Council, with the support of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the University of Georgia, has categorized hedera helix as a Category 1 threat (the highest). Specifically, it states that english ivy is "a serious problem in Georgia natural areas by extensively invading native plant communities and displacing native species".


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

" it is wide spread knowledge in the forestry and horticultural professions that ivy can take down a redwood tree."

Deviant, If widespread knowledge has it that English ivy takes down trees out there, it should be easy to cite scientific proof. Other than that, it's wive's tale. But that has nothing to do with planting it elsewhere. If you're talking about Algerian ivy, the point is moot. I'm not a proponent of it. I haven't recommended it. And I've not commented on it.

I would need to see photographic proof to believe that it's different on the west coast, but out east English ivy does not "encircle" nor strangle the trunks of trees which makes it actually tree friendly. It grows more or less straight up and down the trunks. There is no wrapping. There is no "smothering" of tree foliage. It's almost as if God himself is saying here's the vine for you to put in the forests!

If the native redwoods are migrating, someone had better get on that soon and put a stop to it or they will be on the "invasives" list.

If English ivy is an insidious weed in your area, then I wouldn't plant it. But that's no indication necessarily of what's happening elsewhere, is it?

The big problem with controlling others is that the controllers make so many mistakes. Their errors--which include preventing others from acting--do damage of a magnitude that exponentially exceeds what individuals can do.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

The problem here is officious would-be controllers. The State of Mississippi has not made planting Ivy unlawful. No doubt this doesn't sit well with certain activist groups (who may or may not receive funding from state agencies) but, like it or not, that is the law. To wax judgmental over the suggestion of a lawful use of a particular plant is frivolous.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

I was moved by Bahia's post to finally look up Kudzu, and found this website about it. More interesting from a human behaviour standpoint than I expected.

Karin L

Here is a link that might be useful: The Amazing Story of Kudzu


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

What's kind of funny is that what people say here about English ivy is exactly how I feel about Kudzu. However, I will be honest and admit to it's beauty. Stupendous beauty! One needn't go far in Georgia to find 20 acre forests being eaten alive by Kudzu. And one can't view view those "fields" without expecting to see a family of Brontosauri munching away. It's raw, primeval beauty. As pretty as they are, they're not anything you want in town. I would get up in the middle of the night and mix up a tank of Roundup if I thought a Kudzu seed sprouted in my yard. Or within 500 feet of it. For Kudzu, I would go spray in the neighbor's yard! Kudzu could cover an entire suburban yard in one year's time. Not just the yard, but it would be on top of the trees. And next year, all would be lost. I am not kidding. I lived with English Ivy--at first by happenstance, and then by invitation--for nearly 17 years. There's just no comparison between these two plants. I'm sure the creator put Kudzu here for a reason. When we find it's purpose, humans will be better for it.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Sun, Apr 8, 12 at 21:06

Apparently it makes not the slightest difference to Yardvaark or Whitecaps that English ivy is a category 1 invasive in Georgia, ignorance is bliss... As to why Algerian ivy is more commonly planted in the southwest could easily be presumed by its species name and more southern provenance; it grows better with less water in dryer climates. Clearly a reason why it would be more popular in California than English ivy which needs much more year round irrigation to survive here. It is not capable of naturalizing here without summer fog drip or summer irrigation. It is statements such as"I don't know why anyone would plant Algerian ivy when they could plant English ivy seems to reflect a certain lack of analytical thinking, evidenced also by disregard for invasive qualities re: Englisg ivy also being on Georgia's list. As climatic conditions are generally more uniform across the southeast, I would expect English ivy to be as potentially invasive in parts of Mississippi as Georgia. Plants such as the fern are more likely to be of invasive concerns in more specialized niche microclimates, and potential invasiveness would need to be analyzed with that in mind. The reason that invasives are listed in the first place is that they threaten survival of the native flora they displace, and can also affect the insects and fauna that depend on them. Is it really such a tribulation to the average gardener or designer to at least consider these impacts before planting?

There are many listed invasive plants listed for the entire state of California that in fact are only of localized concern, so the lists need some practical thinking rather than blanket acceptance. Not all listed invasives will be invasive across broadly different habitats, which are all jumbled together across short distances here due to elevation, latitude and proximity to the ocean for California.

On the other hand, I do find validity for not panicking over every plant on an invasive list; some plants that aren't heavy seeders spread by wind or birds are much less likely to be problems affecting wild areas when they don't border the garden in question.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

"seems to reflect a certain lack of analytical thinking"

Bahia, never short on finding clever ways of calling someone a mental defective while elevating your own ideas, you don't fall short now. So much for Gardenweb civility.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

Yardvark,
In regards to scientific proof, I cited a link. Here are some high lights : What's more, English Ivy then sends vines up the trunks of trees , even the giant redwood that encircle and constrict the growth of the tree. This fatal squeeze can bring down trees of all sizes, resulting in a condition known as an "Ivy desert" , an ecologically barren area covered in insidiously lush-looking English Ivy.
No analytical thinking required.

English ivy is an insidous weed in California and other areas of the country. That is why we are having this conversation, in hopes of an education process.

Especially good insight in how English Ivy has interbred : http://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/node/948

A good article with photos to illustrate the strangle hold of E. ivy : http://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog/pdf/ec/ec1595-e.pdf

A map showing the areas where English ivy is considered an ecological threat . also with photos :
http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/fact/hehe1.htm


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

They seem quite unable to grasp the fact that one may not view such entities as the Georgia Exotic Whatever and NPS as the ultimate repositories of wisdom and moral authority for urban gardening practices in North Mississippi. Such organizations are invariably replete with activists and outright "nut jobs."

Linear thinking meet "emotional logic."


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

When I first began studying horticulture through books I was struck by the phenomenon that there were plenty of disagreeing opinions about facts. Once source would disagree with the next, and the next with the following. How can this be? It seemed that the only way to find out what's true was to read a 1/2 dozen books, apply logic in comparing the contents and draw the best conclusion one could, knowing that it was subject to change with the application of additional information. I began to understand, too why there were so many different beliefs. Actual, scientific study would be so expensive or difficult that it wasn't going to happen. What stands in its stead are opinions of professionals based on their limited observations. They can be wrong just as well as right. Even if they're wrong, they will be repeated ad infinitum through the decades by others. Though one can only perform modest scientific examination on their own, they can make observations as well as authors who write books. I'm not likely to let another professional dominate my opinion in an area where I've had the opportunity to make substantial observations. Especially these days, when politics, fads and marketing efforts play ever-increasing roles. Devo, since the link about trees blowing over it not about a scientific study, but is someone's opinion... and some facts they claim disagree with facts I already know, I can hardly accept their opinion as though it were scientific study. It's not. You're free to believe it, but not push it on me. I can appreciate that many with a particular quasi-political outlook are willing to jump on certain bandwagons, but thank goodness, others resist the steady, popular drive toward political correctness.

"English ivy is an insidous weed in California and other areas of the country. That is why we are having this conversation, in hopes of an education process."

I got that that's your belief. But I also know from first hand experience that when it comes to this plant, there is an extraordinary lack of understanding in regard to its use and management and a substantial amount of wrong "facts" about it propagated endlessly. Your efforts are not about "education." They're about browbeating others into accepting your ideology.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

got it. The world is flat.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

  • Posted by catkim San Diego 10/24 (My Page) on
    Mon, Apr 9, 12 at 13:30

For those seriuosly interested in scientific studies of Hedera helix, you may follow the link to a report from the US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, etc. complete with citations and footnotes to 198 sources, or "nut jobs", if you prefer. ;-)

Here is a link that might be useful: US Fed database


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

An interesting observation as it was the government controllers of the time who mandated the edict of the world's being flat. It was "rebel" scientists in search of truth who proved otherwise. You may think that every little so called ecology group and movement should rightfully wield some government power and have their way. Others recognize that looming danger.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

The search for an objective truth in any field is challenging. I don't think we get anywhere in this particular discussion if an agreed-upon truth is the objective.

I see it more as a discussion of risk management, or accountability, or something along those lines.

Maybe it is a bit like the discussion about second hand smoke, some thirty years ago. It never had to be proven that sitting in an airplane, bus depot, or restaurant immersed in everyone else's smoke was GUARANTEED to kill you. It was enough that it could, maybe, if you got enough. Further it became understood that smokers did not HAVE to expose others to their smoke, and so it became a question of manners to make an effort not to do so. But rules and enforcement became necessary because not enough smokers voluntarily kept their smoke from others.

I concur heartily with the Whitecap/Yardvaark view that enforcement by government bureaucrats is neither compelling evidence nor a desirable outcome. Which is actually why empathy and self-restraint, rather than enforcement, should be the order of the day. If people self-correct, and use norming behaviours to encourage others to do so, the big hand of government will never need to be deployed. Libertarians should be the FIRST to discourage anything that might be a plague, rather than the last to do so. It should be enough to understand that ivy of all kinds CAN get out of hand. Whether you find it beautiful or useful or not. Purple loosestrife maybe makes that point better than ivy (locally, PL is a problem).

I also see the argument on this forum being not so much about personal use and experience, but about the wisdom of advising others to plant ivy.

You might choose to smoke. And because you are a polite, considerate person, you are careful not to do it where it could affect others. Thus you can say with relative certainty that your smoking hurts no one but yourself. But if you advise other people to smoke, you lose control over how responsibly they do so relative to other people.

Similarly, you might grow ivy responsibly - and Yardvaark, I credit that you did so (and I respect that you like the look - to each their own). Although, note the term "relative certainty" in the preceding paragraph. You may not, in fact, be certain that there were no rats in your ivy - just that you never saw any. You may not, in fact, be certain that it was not spread to local wild areas or somewhere else where it threatened a building - just that you never noticed any, or if you did, you could not be certain that you were the source. If we are after scientific certainty here, we'd best be consistent.

But when you advise someone else to grow ivy, or when you leave it behind on a property where it might not be as carefully tended, you create a situation in which you do not control the risks anymore. And that is where accountability comes in. While anyone who takes without question advice they get from a stranger on the internet might be said to deserve what they get, most of us want OPs here to have good outcomes, so it is a good thing that we challenge each others' views. That way we keep ourselves and each other accountable.

But we cannot hold OPs accountable, and that is why even if I were an ivy planter myself, I would not advise someone else to do it, and I would remove it before I moved. Advising people we don't know from a distance is tricky. Heck, I made a mistake yesterday drawing someone's attention to an issue for which they are now considering using bug spray. If I did not succeed in talking him/her out of that, I may have just killed some birds in Florida.

Similarly, advising people you don't know to plant ivy might just be a bit like someone leaving a smouldering butt in dry grass. It might rain, because it usually does. But then again, it might not. So me, I would not want to be responsible in any way for the butt being there.

Karin L


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

It hasn't been all that long since one of the Grand Poobahs of the NPS made himself infamous by deciding to let a fire raging through a national forest run its course, his reasoning being that such "preserved the natural rhythms of nature," or some such flapdoodle. We're talking "certifiable" here.

Toro! Toro! Aqui!


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

At the heart of this debate IS politics so there will never be agreement. I don't mind debating an issue, but what I find so annoying about debating it here is that many on one side of the issue don't think it's debatable. They think the case is cut and dried... in their favor, of course!

Karin, I agree with much of what you say, but I think it's universally accepted, now that we've had the Internet around for a few years, that free advice on it doesn't imply all deliverance from personal responsibility. If one chooses to take up smoking by following another's advice that it's harmless, it does not absolve the advice-taker of consequences. In the areas where English ivy grows, even most lay people have a pretty good awareness of its habits. Very few could live in Atlanta, for example, and exist without some level of knowledge about it. Some people fear it. Some people appreciate it for its workhorse versatility. Those who fear it have no interest in learning anything more about it. Those who could appreciate it certainly have the right to learn more about it and to learn more about how to manage it. That a certain faction here spins out of all control at its mention is not sensible, fair or to the good of anyone in the long run.

As much E. ivy that I've been around, walked through and maintained over darn near two decades and never saw a single rat, I say the information is very highly questionable. That someone observed it once and writes such information in a reference manual where it's repeated to the end of time and becomes what the less questioning choose to believe, is our standard. But when my own experience tells me to question it, I question it. The source of this information is Sunset Western Garden Book. Since the publishers are the same, they've printed the information again, verbatim, in the Southern Living Garden Book. They know how to spread the gospel, but it's not the result of a scientific study. It's the result of an author's observation--right or wrong--and the endless repetition of it. Wrong horticultural information is continually put forth in this manner.

" So me, I would not want to be responsible in any way for the butt being there." To me this seems as a bit of over reaction. I prefer to offer information and let the other adult make up their own mind as to their course of action and their politics.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

It's hardly as though the State of Mississippi, with ample input from the scientists of agriculture, botany and whatnot of Mississippi State University, has not prohibited the cultivation of and trafficking in certain noxious plants. One can only conclude that they don't see ivy as an acute threat to the environment as we know it, at least in Mississippi. But we know better than these hayseeds, right?


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Mon, Apr 9, 12 at 19:49

What I continue to see here is the complete abscence of any response to the invasive spread of declared invasives such as English ivy by birds, and the ramifications there of. It is a fact that wind blown seed and bird sown seed invasives are much more likely to become pests.

Professionals who continue to advocate for the use of such plants in areas where they've been declared Category 1 invasives and further, advocate them as being environmentally good don't show much in the way of logical thinking in my view. It doesnt take highly refined powers of observation to detect that escaped naturalized English ivy in woodlands may not directly kill trees it grows on, but it does a pretty good job of smothering the existing native plants at ground level, as well as inhibiting regeneration of seedling trees, and creating in essence a biological desert restricted to ivy. But oh, it doesn't actually kill the trees or smother them like Kudzu, so it's okay to promote ivy's use!

I get that one can like the look and appreciate the convenience of such monocultural ivy plantings; but I'd equate it with trying to defend present day use of DDT or the rational for invading Iraq or staying the course in Afghanistan.

If one is incapable of adjusting their views given known, provable and observable evidence, there's little point in continuing this discussion further. I make no claims of my own infallibility, but observable phenomena such as propensity of ivy being invasive due to bird spread seed, and at least along the west coast, of ivy serving as prime habitat for snails thereby attracting rats are not old wive's tales. Apparently anyone else's observations unless
published in scientific journals that meet with Yardvaark's
seal of personal approval don't count. I'd also surmise that
absolutely nothing said/written/published regarding
invasive plants would have any chance of dissuading
Whitecaps of his conclusions.

All hail such certainty, it certainly must save a lot of time when there's no need to read/research contrary opinion and evidence.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

#1 - we know from the lack of photos, that yard does not have a lot of follow up with the installations he designs. So he could have planted tons of ivy and it could have overgrown all trees and shrubs in a year and he would not know, because apparently he doesn't return to his job sites- or he would have snapped a photo or two. But maybe if its all ivy, he doesn't want to take a photo?

#2 - I really would not choose to follow what the state of mississippi chooses to do about a great number of things - including its banning or not banning of plants.

Bring it on.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

And the difference between you and the State of Mississippi is that the latter is not so presumptuous as to attempt to dictate what may or may not be planted beyond its borders.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

"If one is incapable of adjusting their views given known, provable and observable evidence, there's little point in continuing this discussion further."

But proof must be more than someone's opinion popularized and so far, that's all that you or anyone has offered. In all the opportunities to cite scientific studies, the only citations made are to some quote/unquote professional's (sometimes activists') observations. Some might even be good observations, but they fall short of constituting proof... in spite of the fact that so many wish to lap it up. And some "observations" put forth here, I know with certainty are incorrect. But let's do end the conversation as now it's just browbeating until I or anyone else agrees to your point of view.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

  • Posted by catkim San Diego 10/24 (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 10, 12 at 0:41

Aw please. Yard, you haven't examined the 198 different sources cited in the report I linked, some dating as far back as 1949, before those uppity activists existed, predating political correctness, even includng several sources from other countries; so does that make the report an international conspiracy dating back to the Eisenhower administration? Where is the science to support your position? Has unfettered ivy planting been PROVEN beyond all reasonable doubt to be in the best interest of society? I have no opinion about what people plant in Mississippi or Georgia, but let's have a rational conversation instead of demanding science, then when it's presented, rejecting it as biased without even reading it, then offering your personal random anecdotal experience to support your statements as though that were sufficient to warrant blind acceptance "because you say so."

I didn't know English ivy was the friend of the devil when I started this thread; I only wanted to express why I think it's ugly and ill-used. That's my opinion of the aesthetics of ivy, no science necessary. Who is browbeating whom?


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As I understand the point under discussion (if it may be called that) it is whether it was unethical to propose the use of ivy to cover a bare area to a suburban homeowner in North Mississippi, most likely Starkville. It hasn't been made quite clear whether this judgment extends to all and sundry, or only "professionals."


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

Cat, I accept your personal viewpoint. I'm not pushing you to plant ivy.

Let's agree to disagree and let it go at that. A scientific study is where controlled experiments are set up, examined and conclusions drawn. Whether one is an amateur or professional, it's not sufficient to stroll through a forest, see ivy covered trees lying on the ground and conclude that ivy is the culprit. There are huge number of factors--like soils, terrain and weather... Nature--that would go into drawing such a conclusion. One would set up an experiment or establish a study that PROVES it. The science would be repeatable so that the conclusions drawn could be corroborated by other independent scientists. The burden of proof is on the claimant. It's not up to someone else to prove the non-existence of harm or inability of H. helix to be managed. The links that have been offered as evidence of proof don't actually take one to such studies or experiments that would constitute proof.

"Who is browbeating whom?" I'm sure, if you look, you'll find moronic comments that look more like personal attacks than putting forth one's best intellectual arguments.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

Let's see, now, what else my local chapter of "progressive" luminaries has adjudged "invasive" in hot, dry Central Texas. Holly fern I've mentioned. Here's Johnson grass, kudzu, poison ivy and, right alongside them, elephant ear, nandina, vitex, pyracantha and photinia. Guess that makes me Public Enemy Number One. Strangely enough, no mention of common ivy. Just a temporary lapse of concentration, I'm sure.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

Due to the nature of nature, scientific study in the fields of botany, anthropology, archaeology, geology, etc., progress in these fields rely upon the experience of trained professionals strolling through forests and other landscapes and making observations. After many similar observations, a hypothesis is made and further observations sought to confirm or deny said hypothesis. That truly is science and not everything has to be proven in a lab with blind tests. I've never seen a sedimentary rock being made but I do believe that over time and pressure, sand can be turned into sandstone. I'm pretty sure that was determined long before current technology.

Not all scientists have the the ability to set up an experiment in a laboratory and test a hypothesis over and over.

Due to the size and time constraints of growing a redwood on slopes of different angles followed by growing ivy to cover a significant portion of said tree and then having various strengths wind come a test them, you would likely have to agree that this is one hypothesis that is best done through field observation instead of in a laboratory setting.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

But comparative, detailed studies can be made and corroborated.

Well and good, but all of these arguments have little or nothing to do with the original reason this thread came about. My comments were about an urban yard in the American Southeast... not the redwood forest.


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The thread came about because ColMuldrow indicated he had decided to make use of ivy in his landscape, and would hear no more debate about it.


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I guess what surprises - and depresses - me most about this thread is that anyone who is associated with horticulture on any kind of professional level would advocate the planting of an exotic invasive species in any area where that plant has been found to be problematic. Leaving off any discussion as to whether or not English ivy can contribute to the demise/failure of ivy-infested trees or if it provides a suitable habitat for rodents and other vermin (both of which I can attest to personally), the fact the plant can and does spread into natural areas over large portions of this country to the detriment of native species should be reason enough to avoid suggesting its planting is anything close to "ecologically responsible". That is preposterous!

Politics has nothing to do with it. The issue is whether or not one can consider themselves any kind of a steward of the environment and advocate the usage of an noted invasive species. And there are few other plant species that have as widespread and as damaging an effect on native ecology as does Hedera helix.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

And just who appointed you "steward" of -my- environment? Gaia?


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

Professionals in the horticultural, landscape architectural , landscape design, forestry, arboriculture, biology, agricultural and viticultural professions have taken an oath of stewardship as part of our credentials. It is the duty of those in these professions to inform, educate and protect the ecology of our land systems.

In addition to those licensed/ degreed professionals mentioned above there are many active lay people who are members of land ecology, conservation and preservation partnerships who are asked as part of their membership to educate the public and act as stewards of the land.

Most people see this as a positive group effort that benefits our precious natural resources.
Through our common partnership and continued education there is a hope for preserving and enhancing our land for generations to come.

It's not an issue of over reaching government, picking on someone or browbeating . It's a real concern for how to best care for the land that we all share.

My own training was completed at an Ivy league school ( mentioned only for the irony of the pun) and asks of me to commit to BMP ( best mang. pract's.) stewardship of the land and continued education.

I believe those of us who have commented on the environmental issues of hedera helix in certain areas of our country are doing so for the educational & conservational benefits for our land ... and because we passionately care.



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Well, I see that this Forum has developed a new clique and what they are promoting is scary! My hat is off to those who truly understand this subject and are willing to write well thought out statements showing deep concern for the environment.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

This is getting close to self-stimulation.


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The only statement lacking in the above do-gooder Nazi mantra was "...and it's for the children...!!" (said with distressed emotion through flying tears, of course.) It's ALL about the politics of political correctness. It's got nothing to do with ivy in a yard in Miss.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

Are you two siblings who, although separated at birth, managed somehow to find each other on this forum?


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 10, 12 at 19:19

Some people are perfectly content to "know what they know" or "do what they do" regardless of unintended consequences. I find the rebuttals sadly lacking in any comprehension of the basis for invasive plants lists, and the various factors involved that cause the risks to be ranked by degree of threat. I can only assume that there is an underlying attitude that protecting wild areas from invasion by exotics intentionally planted isn't of any concern to Whitecap and Yardvaark. A lack of any acknowledgement that this ivy can be or is an invasive plant in their respective states, and how it has become such, just doesn't seem to register


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This Gradgrindian insistence that there can be no reasonable difference of opinion concerning the specific use of ivy at issue here, without basis in law, scripture or specific provision of any relevant canon of ethics, is fueled by the self-gratification that derives from assuming the role of the ethical "minder" of others. And as for your attempt to retreat into the protective hedge of "professional responsibility," let me invite your attention to the fact that I was the one who first suggested the use of ivy to ColMuldrow, after his inquiry had gone without response for what seemed to me an awkward interval. Despite the fact that I have never so much as intimated that I am a "design professional" or some such, I have been adversely referenced a number of times on these threads. To that I object, vigorously, and if that strikes anyone as "scary," I would suggest that this board has perhaps become a little too inbred.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

I would suggest that this board has perhaps become a little too inbred

And I would suggest you haven't been a participant long enough to make that type of determination.

And who decides whether or not there is a relevant "canon of ethics" in place and what that governing board may be? Since you blatantly dismiss any current invasive species authority or published documentation, I can only surmise you have assumed that god-like role for yourself. Talk about self-gratification! As far as gradgrindian insistence is concerned, that terminology is much more suitably applied to you and your other pro-ivy cohort for your devotion to the scientific testing and various technical cites you insist on being provided whereas the rest of the world sees and accepts the visual evidence as proof enough.

Adverse references on this and other professional forum venues typically boils down to those to whom the references are applied simply not knowing what the heck they are talking about. If the shoe fits........


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

Had I but world enough, and time. . . .


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

  • Posted by feijoas Temperate New Zealan (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 10, 12 at 22:07

Poison ivy has a new meaning!
Maybe it's the upcoming USA elections, maybe it's just me, or...
but every time I visit an American online site at the moment, there seems to be some quite vituperative stuff going on.
I pop in here every once and a while, but I think my visiting days are over.


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  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 10, 12 at 22:26

Literary references to Dickens and Greek mythology seem more your cup of tea than any curiosity about why the plants you cite might in fact be invasive in hot dry Texas areas within certain habitats. A bit broad brush to imply listing them is a sign of being ridiculous when reasoned deduction would conclude the more water loving listed plants are most likely only of issue in riparian habitats.

Some geographic jumping around here, it's not clear whether your gardening expertise is Texas or Mississippi based, I'm assuming you have experience with both states. It's a bit disingenuous to resent being called out personally when one's comments are clearly intended to provoke opposing response. You are quite politically correct to insist there are no laws on the books making the planting of ivy illegal in most states. On the other hand, there are laws on the books here in California that make it illegal to grow for sale certain listed plants. It may smack of liberal nanny state protectionism to you, but it has fairly broad support within the landscape/horticultural industry here. I'll go out on a limb here and assume that you and Yard don't support the goals of your local native plant society
groups nor have an interest in the local problem invasives
they may be contending with. It seems such issues are of no concern. I'd like to think most gardeners and landscape professionals would see the merits of trying to preserve our native plants and habitats rather than denigrate efforts to preserve them.

Sign of the times here in the good old USA where the Red state/Blue state political divide has devolved to name calling and classic time tested principles such as repeating a lie often enough, many people start to believe them._


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The State of Texas can jail you for up to 180 days for trafficking in certain plants, and there are quite a few of them. Now, since there would seem to be some reading comprehension issues implicated here, let me see how simple I can make this: are you seriously proposing that it is unethical for me to decline to allow you to dictate to me what otherwise lawful plants I may use?


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And before you undertake to respond to my inquiry, I will invite you to consider the following: The State of Texas (where I was born and bred) does have a very active Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Council, spearheaded by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. They have drawn heavily on the studies of the California Invasive Plant Council. They have condemned, as "invasive," some 28 plants. This has been very controversial. I have investigated some of their claims, and found them factually wanting. It is my feeling, shared by others, that they have let ecological zeal and a bias in favor of Texas "natives" lead them astray. Even they, however, have stopped short of naming ivy as an "invasive." And I have taken no oaths to be bound by their purported findings, in any event.


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This conversation has long ceased to be about ivy. Any ivy. It's about political correctness. When controlling types jump on a bandwagon, they want to make sure that you're on the same wagon playing the same tune. There is no room for another song or any other thought. These people are do-gooders: Saving children. Saving the planet. Saving the environment. Telling others how to live and what's good for them. First by suggestions. Then by law. They're skilled operatives. Anyone who studies history has seen the eventual outcome of all the goodness-doing such movements bring to society. Of course, while in the thick of it, you can't talk sense into any of them. They're convinced and they work hard to convince others that they're doing the right thing... just like when a group of them brought Prohibition into being. The disasters they create eventually backfire... usually while others do the suffering.

I don't know whether they really believe it or not, but a key strategy used is to drive home the message that whoever holds an opposing view only holds it because of that person's inability to analyze, reason, discern... basically to THINK. This is the key to making political correctness work. Shaming others until they adopt the CORRECT thinking. But if one can think, they must move it up a notch and demonstrate then, that one is EVIL. Both of these strategies have been used in this thread.

One thing they won't do is stick to facts about a topic. In this thread, facts about Hedera helix are little discussed. There's plenty of emotional outcry and generalized claims that one's view is more supported by "the public" than the other's view... that the opponents are lying (while you are) but next to no discussion of actual facts about a plant. They just take it that is discussion about the plant has long been over and is dead. They want to claim that there's all this science out there supporting their views, but when you look at it, you can see that they didn't quite get the "fact vs opinion" lesson back in 5th grade. Obviously, the merits or truth about H. helix is not a discussable subject here on the GardenWeb Landscape Design Forum if people are going to question your "party membership" along the way.


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It's called "message discipline" and, yes, the "science is settled."

Oh, as for my purported Johnny-come-lately status, I began posting occasional comments here, under the handle "whitecap," some two years ago.


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  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Wed, Apr 11, 12 at 14:05

I will profess I have no direct experience with invasives in Georgia, never having been there except to transit planes at the Atlanta airport. On the other hand, isnt it a fact that Hedera helix has been listed as an invasive plant of concern in Georgia? Or is this point also in dispute?

My points about supporting the general aims of the individual Native Plants Societies and the Invasives Councils regarding their listing of invasive plants of concern across the country are based on what I see of their work here in California; having very much to do with the easily visible validity of the invasive character of some of the listed species. One can take a drive almost anywhere in the state and see examples of exotics that are supplanting the native plant communities. I happen to believe this unintended consequence of intentional or inadvertant import of exotic species is reason for concern. For many habitats, it is impossible to completely reverse the impacts, and some of the escaped exotics date back centuries to the introduction of cattle and sheep by the Spaniards. In fact, the golden hills of summer are due to annual grasses from the Mediterranean basin outcompeting the evergreen native bunchgrasses which weren't adapted to being closely cropped by domestic pasture animals. Other invasives such as Pampas gras, Cortaderia jubata, a less ornamental cousin to the more widely planted Cortaderia pumila, have colonized thousands of acres all along the California coast. Other plants such as Ice plant, Carpobrotus edulis, various Brooms such as Scotch broom, several Acacias, Eucalyptus, and creeping vining plants such as Senecio milkanioides which acts quite similar to Kudzu vine in coastal California riparian habitats, have similarly taken over acres of ground and displaced native flora and also fauna.

I realize these examples aren't in Georgia or Texas or Mississippi, but I don't see why the similar groups in these states wouldn't be reacting to similar observable and quantifiable introduced exotics that are displacing natives.

I'd agree that politics is involved with these policies to the degree that one either values the remnant intact wild habitat areas in your respective states; or one doesn't feel that individual actions may have collective impacts that may be detrimental.

I might also mention how my own eyes were opened to the impacts of escaped exotics while on a botanical tour to the Western Cape Province of South Africa. Indigenous large woody trees are very rare within the region, for various reasons of both climate and geology and the role of fire in the maintenance of the local plant species ecology. Research has found that the introduction of many of the Californian, Mediterranean and Australian trees that were first brought in for ornamentals or useful windbreaks in farmed areas or for controlling shifting sand dunes have had major destructive impacts. I had never previously seen or heard that plantations of trees in watersheds could actually reduce water storage capacity of reservoirs, but it is a real concern in much of South Africa. As the native Fynbos scrub vegetation within watershed areas surrounding Cape Town have been invaded by exotic invasive trees and shrubs, the collected run off has drastically declined. Where watersheds are restored to the native Fynbos vegetation, previous water storage levels have been restored. I cite this foreign example as a window into the viewpoint that preserving wild habitat is a useful pursuit, as we can't always know the impacts of our individual actions over the short term.

It's fairly obvious some see this as meddling politics and simply don't believe invasive plant councils and lists are worth the paper they are written on. I personally see it has part of the broader issue of trying to limit inadvertant adverse ecological impacts. Perhaps the associated hassles of plant inspections at ports of entry and state boundaries to keep out new species of insects seem equally suspect? Or can one see a rationale for trying to keep a handle on the situation, and err on the side of caution. As I've said already, I don't have direct experience with the listings of invasives for Georgia or Texas, but I'm not inclined to dismiss their work as purely political rather than based on observable problems by the organizations involved. I would be interested to hear/read of specific examples that illustrate the contrary if someone would care to post them. Probably most specifically about claims of Hedera helix invading/displacing natives being patently false, it never happens. Does not the Georgia Invasives Council listing of English ivy not graphically show geographic areas of invasion by listed species, and specify the native habitats of particular concern?


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

To refresh your memory, the issue here in question is whether it was unethical to suggest the use of ivy to an urban homeowner in North Mississippi. Not Georgia, not Texas, not All Knowing California, not Tierra del Fuego, but North Mississippi. Now, would anyone else care to take a stab at the question I posed above?


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I don't follow every thread on this forum and understand that threads often take a divergent path, but wasn't this original post about one person's aversion to ivy overtaking fences, trees and homes in Southern California ?


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First, Bahia, you should know that I haven't lived in Georgia in quite some time. I can assure you that when I lived and worked there, planting H. helix was legal, accepted and enjoyed by many. With Google Streetview, I see that it still maintains its popularity.

I have never said that English ivy has never escaped... or displaced natives. That must be someone else's argument. To have all natives return and displace exotic species may be what many would like to see happen in the landscape industry. I'm (proudly) not in that group. I like natives. I like exotics. To me, it's all about merits of the plant and management based on knowledge, not snap judgements (that are so often wrong) and overreaction... which I think is a great deal of what the return to "natives" movement represents. The lack of knowledge about how to manage H. helix has proliferated well beyond the limits of the plant itself. It is exactly because "we can't always know the impacts of our individual actions over the short term" ...[and even more so the long term] that one should be cautious about pushing a movement with too much force. There can be unintended consequences to that, too. I am not against the return of natives movement on a voluntary basis. I am against some pushing it on others... especially when they start the drumbeat marching it toward law. The greatest interest government has is in maintaining itself. In most of the rest of the world everyone wants to control everyone else. This idea is exactly against the founding principles of our country. Yet through a century-long march toward incorporating socialistic ideology into our everyday lives (now a regular part of the 12-year government indoctrination program) we have turned 180* from our founding concept. People can eat it up all they want and try to convince others that we're all going to perish unless we believe in this new direction. But history indicates that the proposed "solutions" will likely BE the problems. To use the example of Prohibition again, we are repeating it on a CONTINUAL basis. There are many Americans who currently feel that our golden age is over and we're in decline. Time will tell how it will all shake out. For myself, I have no problem tracing the effect directly to the far-reaching control of others through misuse of government. I'm not here to convince people of that. They can make up their own mind about what they think. But as this misuse of government often begins at the grassroots level and works its way up, I'm certainly not going to help it along.

The drive to bring back natives is, at its core, not much different from the drive to purge technology and modern living from society. There are a lot of people who believe that cars, televisions and music (etc.) are evil and cause large scale harm. While I think they may have some valid points... I think their solution to eliminate these elements from society are not the right solution. Personally, I believe the solutions will come through developing more sophisticated technology. That's progress and the will to stop humans from achieving it will fail the test of time. In the meanwhile, I'm trying not to add to the misery.


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This hatchet fight was ejected from an earlier thread initiated by one ColMuldrow of North Mississippi.

Texas Parks and Wildlife has introduced tilapia into certain lakes to control hydrilla. It has been made a criminal offense to remove them without gutting them, to prevent their migration into other lakes. "How can this be?" you ask. "How can it be thought that their utility outweighs their destructiveness in some lakes, but not in others? Has it not been exhaustively documented that they have had a negative impact on certain lakes, displacing native species? It just doesn't make any sense!"


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But dang... as fish go, Tilapia sure do taste good!

It does seem that hatchet fights erupt here when people don't think your passion for what they're passionate about, is enough.


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I believe fewer people are planting Hedera helix these days, thankfully. I came across a nice article (linked below) that lists several alternatives for ivy for the Mid-Atlantic area.

Yardvaark - My post sharing my experience with this plant (quite different from yours) went unacknowledged by all. I can't help but wonder if you have you ever tried to eliminate it? Do you know what the roots are like? I cannot wrap my head around the notion of purposely planting 1/4-acre of it. That's the size of my entire property! If left unchecked, the ivy next door would strangle my entire garden in a fairly short time.

It's odd that you see this argument as political, when I see it as a matter of common sense and courtesy.

Here is a link that might be useful: Article with ivy alternatives


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  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Wed, Apr 11, 12 at 21:06

I don't think concerns about ivy's invasiveness have anything to do with lack of knowledge about how to properly maintain it, but if that is the basis of your thoughts, it is what it is. I think you also misrepresent the goals of those in favor of protecting wild areas of native
habitat, it doesn't equate with wanting to eliminate the
use of exotics in urban landscapes, but considered use of exotics that are less likely to cause harm. Equating these sorts of concerns with Prohibition laws is certainly your prerogative, but personally it seems a little absurd to make the comparison.

I get that many people may object to any laws or movements they consider restrictive of their individual rights to freedom, I may even find areas of agreement as to the absurdity of specific restrictive agencies; local design review ordinances and restrictive drought tolerant planting lists that don't allow for substitutions with equally drought tolerant plant choices are among the governmental restrictions I don't always agree with.

In general I see the validity of the concept, the details may need tweaking and even benefit from public comment and push-back, rather than rejecting the conceptual basis for such regulations.

Ultimately what one individual homeowner does for landscaping in their own front yard isn't the point of any of this; even that particular homeowner didn't seem enthused about the idea of using English Ivy for his situation. Possibly because he wasn't after the additional work to keep it from potentially climbing his trees, who knows for sure.

I haven't seen any of the "don't much like English ivy" folks here advocating for removal of existing plantings on private property or only landscaping with locally native plants. An interpretation of posters presenting reasons that ivy has become invasive is being conflated with all sorts of other tangentle concerns. Admittedly I myself have gotten caught up in this as well.

Posters who've written about the aggravation of trying to fight/remove ivy, and finding the hard work required to do so reason enough to hate the stuff, have my sympathy. I've waged battle with ivy myself, and the local neighborhood plantings of Algerian ivy are a constant source of seedlings in my own garden.

even agree


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

Green the ivy, green the fern
And green the youthful heart.
Carpe diem while you may
For soon we will depart.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

"...what one individual homeowner does for landscaping in their own front yard isn't the point of any of this..." Actually, it is. In the Col. Muldrow discussion (of which this thread is an offshoot) the argument was about the use of H. helix in a specific place. The recommendation of English ivy there, causes many to say that it has no purpose anywhere. That Col. Muldrow likes or dislikes--because he/she already has preconceived ideas about it which may or may not be correct--is what does not matter. Another truth to recognize is that, in general, vines get a bad rap. Without the proper handling, many of them can become thugs. It is proper handling, not disuse, that I am promoting.

Having no first-hand familiarity with Algerian ivy, I can't speak to issues regarding it's bad habits or invasiveness. If it drops a prodigious amount of viable seed, I'm sure I'd find neighbor's plants annoying to contend with. But I've not been trying to promote a plant in areas or for purposes for which it's not suited. I'm supporting it for the great many places and purposes in which it is. Kudzu has decimated large areas of the country and I wouldn't support the idea of using it anywhere I know. But I can conceive that somewhere on earth, with regard to the all the factors, it does have some place and purpose. I don't know what or where it would be, but if it could be discovered, I would support its use in that place. Not in other places. The disagreements seem to emanate from this really being two parallel conversations. One is about "invasives." The other is about plant performance. I cannot agree that there is NO landscape place for English ivy. It's an extraordinarily useful plant capable of serving many purposes with superior performance. The easiest way for me to agree that there is no longer need for H. helix in the landscape is to discover a plant that is equal or superior to it. I do not know what this plant would be. The problem I'm trying to solve is where a large, uniform, low height (not to exceed 9 or 10") lawn (1/4 acre or more) is desired, in the dry shade of trees where little digging is desired, capable of covering slopes, is inexpensive, in the American Southeast, without irrigation and will not also be considered invasive as soon as it becomes popular... what plant is this? It would not be valid to suggest a different style of landscape. If someone wants a mixed perennial border, they don't want to hear a recommendation to use sod instead.

@ maureeninmd "My post sharing my experience with this plant (quite different from yours) went unacknowledged by all." I can only speak for myself but I didn't comment on what you said because your comments ("English ivy is a terrible thing"... "Catkim's pics make me want to cry"... "I hate to see it"... "choking out everything in its path, etc....") sound like they are coming from someone who was not open to reason and practicality. The way you describe trying to manage it sounds like someone trying to fight off a grizzly bear with fingernails. I'm sure there are much more effective ways of managing English ivy if one is realistic about it. If you are opposed to the use of chemicals, it will be much more difficult... but not impossible. One would need to know details in order to suggest solutions.

@ whitecape2... I believe there is a coded message there. Hmmm.....


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

It's a fragment from Anacreon's lost "Life's Too Short for this *^#*!"


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

Life is enriched by learning opportunities, Whitecap, of which this is one.

One has to differentiate between political correctness (and the PC police) and rational, desirable change. I have not just seen but been part of many social change movements - indeed, I still am. But you couldn't find many people who are more opposed to political correctness than me. I've checked out of some social change movements because they went beyond equalizing to oppressing - such as the campaign for limiting second hand smoke.

But some campaigns do have to become oppressive, because certain behaviours need to be eradicated (to the extent possible), not just limited. Let's say, oh, slavery for example. I don't have a problem with the campaign against ivy becoming a campaign for eradication (ideally, it will not need to become a war). This is, as I alluded above, because you cannot remain in control of what happens after you plant it. And as to whether the ivy is one type or another, I think that is irrelevant. I noticed yesterday that my neighbour has planted some ivy on their hellstrip. It may be a less-invasive kind, but that doesn't mean it can't generate an ivy problem - here's how. It "models" planting ivy. So that means someone else may see how it's done, think it's a great idea, and plant the invasive kind.

And because this is the rainforest, yes, around here it matters. Planting ivy may, in fact, be a sort of enslavement of future owners of your property, as per Maureen's very evocative comment that she would like to go back in time and murder the person who planted it. She is enslaved, to the tune of many hours of her time and limitations as to what she can do with her property. Similarly, I am enslaved to weeding up thousands of Norway maple seedlings by my neighbours' tree, and by bindweed encroaching from next door. It is not an unjustified metaphor. I used to be enslaved, by a different tree on the other side, to endless gutter cleaning, fruitless gardening attempts, and cleaning up tree debris. Tree gone = work gone, freedom gained.

And it's funny, when we are talking to OPs around here about trees, we often talk about planting them so that they do not become a problem later. Ironic, isn't it, given that a tree can be cut down with relative ease and certainty?

And Maureen, I was very struck by your comment, which came across to me as a real cry from the heart and nothing irrational at all. It formed, in fact, the impetus for my earlier remarks about empathy and future home owners.

As for the rats, Yardvaark, I think it is clear enough that any time you are in the ivy, the rats will scurry out of your way, so in a big patch, they could easily stay out of your sight. I know I have them in the back yard, because the neighbour is a hoarder and provides fabulous habitat for them, but I never see them when I am out bustling around the yard during the day. My other neighbours, however, report that when they sit quietly in their yard in the evenings, they see the rats emerge, coming up trees and over the fence. The "fact" that I have not seen them does not hold up against the "fact" that they have seen them in a discussion of whether, in "fact", our mutual neighbour's hoarding is a problem or not. Isn't that the black swan argument?

Karin L


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

Unteachable, unreachable and unrepentant, these Invasive Plant Deniers.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

"But some campaigns do have to become oppressive... slavery for example." The line is easy to draw. Where one's natural rights (not so called "acquired" rights) are breached an action must stop or be stopped. Living in close proximity does present its challenges to the finer points of legality, but I'd say in the vast majority of cases what one man expects of another is reasonableness. Worrying about what MIGHT happen (as in the "modeling" example) would not be sufficient for me to think it a breach of rights any more than thought or speech would be.

"Planting ivy may, in fact, be a sort of enslavement of future owners of your property... " If one buys a house with a condition already present and evident, they have no one to blame for the purchase but themselves. In Maureen's case, I believe that the situation is entirely manageable, but that she has either not yet learned how, or not yet committed to following through with what's required to control ivy.

I am not immune to the idea of being bothered by plants. I have dealt with many I've loathed. But at the bottom of my being bothered is a belief that I can overcome whatever it is that the offending plant throws at me ... usually by outsmarting it in one way or another. If I can't... or don't like the plant well enough that I want to, I eliminate it. So far, it is only nutsedge that really gripes me. But I can even deal with that, though it's more time consuming and expensive. Comparatively, Hedera helix is a breeze. Don't forget, I'm not speaking about it relative to west coast conditions as it's out of my realm, but neither should people in other realms say there is no place for it for other people in other places... and do everything they can to cause fear about it.

"As for the rats, Yardvaark... " ANYTHING is possible. But not necessarily probable or even likely. When it comes to plants and yard, I'm a ruthless dictator and tyrant. I require total submission and compliance. Nothing escapes my KGB style patrols. Usually, I'm patrolling the other side of the fence to see what's coming (and if I need to do any midnight eradication.) Any critter can walk into a yard. But living there?... an infestation?... not possible in my yard. What's more, being so involved in various aspects of the landscape industry, if there was a connection between rats and H. helix, surely I'd have at least heard of it from other people in the industry, or neighbors, or someone. But not until here did I ever hear it mentioned. It might just be a west coast thing. Since Sunset Western Garden and Southern Living Garden say EXACTLY the same verbage about Hedera (and rats) I don't think they're making much account of regional distinctions. The comments must be taken with a grain of salt.

@ maureeninmd"It's odd that you see this argument as political, when I see it as a matter of common sense and courtesy." There is little that disturbs a free, rational man as much as being prevented from acting in a way that makes sense to him and violates no inalienable right of another. When one forces their idea of "common sense" or "courtesy" on others, it's politics. With the comments that have been made, I don't doubt for a second that, if they could, most people writing on this thread would make it illegal for others to plant English ivy. I don't want to be told I can't use English ivy any more than anyone wants to be told they MUST use it.

At the root of the great disagreement about English ivy is probably the question of whether one man's use of it is a violation of another man's rights. Of course, I don't think it is and I'm pretty sure whitecap (hope you don't mind I nicked your name : ) is with me on that. Others see it differently. But if that's where the conversation is heading, it ought to go ahead and move on over to the attorney's forum where they can artfully hash it out. As long as H. helix is legal to plant, I don't want to be told not to do it or that there's something wrong with me because I see positive qualities in the plant. I'm interested in discussing its horticultural merits (or lack thereof) and management... not what's on the court docket. I'm not saying others shouldn't be able to express their thoughts about it, but that's what they should limit it to... THEIR thoughts about it. Not a demand that someone else should have or not have the same thoughts.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

Do you (plural) seriously suppose the Texas Invasive Plants and Pests Council is in need of guidance and instruction from you? No, really, I'm not trying to goad you into self-destructing--I'm interested in knowing how you see yourselves. Messianic figures, perhaps?

Ivy is widely used here, and the very zealots who are alert for opportunities to jump on their soap boxes and wear out creation about the evils of nandina and photinia would think you a bit "off." There just aren't many substitutes for dry shade groundcover in this climate, and you will not see here the horrors you say exist elsewhere. Georgia may see otherwise, but Texas would appear to be at least as close to North Mississippi as Atlanta.

This business about ivy attracting rats is a bit much. I've never seen any rats in my ivy. Some of the photos I see here, on the other hand, aren't particularly suggestive that "best practices" with regard to sanitation are being scrupulously adhered to.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

I went to Atlanta on Google Streetview in search of a property showing typical ivy use. The house sits on a flat top of the hill and has a sunny back yard. The property is about 3 acres or so. (These ivy areas would not be irrigated and are very drought tolerant. Also, there is no leaf raking as the leaves just sift down into the ivy.) As an alternative, what would one use instead of Hedera helix in this front yard?

Interestingly, in the lower picture (just across the street) is one of the more common alternate treatments of shaded hillsides (when people don't want ivy) ... pine straw.

To me, the ivy looks like a blanket of green wool covering the ground. The yard looks serene and peaceful and in the hot weather, cool. The pine straw area (these are typically in a state of straw depletion) looks scorched and barren. In the hot weather, they look hot and are hot.

(Why the people with the ivy yard felt compelled to keep the 18" grass strip is beyond me.)


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RE: Ivy in a small yard

Here is how it's typically used in a small yard. What else could be substituted? (The red arrow points to the GRASS lawn next door... who would want to mow that?)


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

Not to frolic too far off topic, but I have a quick question for 'vaark. For many years, I had a side yard covered in ivy, and it was simply gorgeous. About 10 years ago, though, after a long, cool damp spring, it started dying. I had piled some brush on top of it at the far end, and I suspect that caused the disease to get started. I've tried to get it going again every year since, sometimes in spring, sometimes in late fall. It does pretty good for a while, but eventually dies, the runners showing pinched growth just above the roots. I don't know if I'm overwatering it, or whether I have a fungus of some sort in the soil that just isn't going to depart. I'd be interested in your thoughts.

I've tried a number of alternatives. Not enough light for Asian Jasmine, and vinca was not at all attractive. I now have the yard covered with Blue Shade, Ruellia squarrosa. It looks good, and requires no watering, but dies back to the ground every time we have a severe winter. Sure wish I could get my ivy back.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

Whitecap, I have not known English ivy to have disease problems so don't have any advice for you based on experience. Though it will survive in some pretty dim light, H. helix prefers moderate light for good growth. I'm speculating, if the light is too low for Asian Jasmine (which will take some pretty dark shade) it may be contributing to the ivy's poor condition. The description of "pinched growth" just about the ground sounds like a sure sign of disease (for an otherwise healthy plant) and that is often the result of unsuitable cultural conditions. Are there nearby examples of ivy that are doing well? What is the cause of the shade... trees? I would consider checking with local county agent to see if this is a trend or a unique situation. If unique, is there a way to increase light in the area?


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

Well, no, it's overrun a small patio off the "master" less than a hundred feet away. I'll be clearing it today, an hours work, no big deal. The problem area is shaded by large oaks, but purple heart, ardisia, mahonia, liriope and even a couple of containerized azaleas are doing well there. You see ivy all over the place in my area, and some of it died during last year's drought, but I haven't seen any indications of a generalized disease problem.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

"The problem area is shaded by large oaks..." ...to the point of creating a gloomy pall? If too much shade, I'd lighten for general purposes... just to make the world a brighter place, but I can't say details without photos. Whitecap, other than that I am stumped. Checking with local county agent may be your best bet. If the other plants are doing well, I can't imagine that English ivy can't survive the light conditions, too.

During the years I lived in Georgia, we had a severe drought. To the best of my recollection, it seemed that it lasted for about 3 years. While much English ivy dried out pretty well and it's leaves turned 1/2 brown & crispy, with the eventual return of rain, it quickly overcame its sorry state. (Many tree died during this drought.)


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

I think I'd better keep the "gloomy pall" on the deck. Perhaps I need a light, airy mix of ferns, hellebores, hostea and the like, heh. Ah, me. Stage One Water Restrictions imposed today.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

Yard - your photos of ivy's use in suburban Atlanta reminds of how it was used in Washington DC. Personally, I find it unattractive and unimaginative. From the picture you showed with the ivy on steep front yard, I would prefer the house with the terraces to the left, then the house with grass to the right and finally the house with ivy. And here in the PNW, there's no way I would ever consider it neighborly to plant ivy.

And I saw plenty of rats in the ivy in DC. Perhaps in more suburban areas without compost piles and less wildlife, the ivy is clearer of vermin.

One thing I was thinking is that perhaps with the kudzu the southeast is dealing with, the ivy doesn't seem that bad and thus not a thug. I know that if I had to choose between a yard overrun by ivy vs one overrun by blackberries, I'd choose the ivy. They're about equal in staying and straying power but the blackberries have thorns.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

Our tolerance for diversity of opinion is such that we really don't care how you do it "out there."


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

"I find it [the large Atlanta ivy yard] unattractive and unimaginative." Then, what WOULD be attractive, imaginative, practical, and affordable as a one-acre lawn substitute in the Southeast? The highly vocal opponents of Hedera helix have become suddenly and oddly silent about answering this question.

"One thing I was thinking is that perhaps with the kudzu the southeast is dealing with, the ivy doesn't seem that bad..." Only because--unlike those on the west coast--we don't actually THINK or REASON. We just react. Why heck... blacktop 'd be fine with us!

"And I saw plenty of rats in the ivy in DC." How many is "plenty"? To make this claim believable, what would be the details of how you came to be in the ivy, were able to determine that it's an infestation (not just transient rats) and had such contact on more than a single occasion or in a single area? And in what context... residential... commercial? Let's hear details.

"As to why Algerian ivy is more commonly planted in the southwest could easily be presumed by its species name and more southern provenance; it grows better with less water in dryer climates.

On a stroll through the SF Bay area, I came across several examples of ivy that looked like this; it is clearly not English ivy:

If it's true that Enlish ivy (H. helix) is not popular there because it doesn't like the low rainfall conditions, reason would have it (just trying a little of that here to see what it's like) that it's not going to be the best performer. If instead, its Algerian cousin (H. canariensis) is the popular ivy, and it's true that it's a thug... that would not justify applying facts about it, to another species. Notice the near shrub-like heaping up of H. canariensis in the photos. H. helix in southeastern U.S. does not grow at all like this. It stays flat and is easy to walk through (without mowing.) Obviously, we're talking about some significant differences between plants that people here seem to be referring to, generally, as "ivy." In other words... apples and oranges. Bahia claims that the initial photos posted here are H. canariensis. Where are the pictures of west coast H. helix that demonstrate the claims made for it out there?

In the above photos, it also appears that the property owner is intentionally trying to kill half of this ivy... and having a hard time of it (I speculate as the line between "life" and "death" in the photo is precise.) Because it's not English ivy, and is apparently more rambunctious, it may be that H. canariensis is very difficult to kill. But that, too, does not have bearing on what it takes to manage H. helix.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

And now we have an admission that the California Invasive Plants Council has designated Hedera helix as "invasive" only in coastal forest and riparian areas. But I guess our resident savants are light years ahead of everyone.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

"I find it [the large Atlanta ivy yard] unattractive and unimaginative." Then, what WOULD be attractive, imaginative, practical, and affordable as a one-acre lawn substitute in the Southeast? First, are you stating that the front yard shown in the second photo is 1 acre? As I stated in my list of preferences, the lawn would be more attractive. Why remove the lawn when it's more attractive than what you'll put in? I would rather mow what you pointed to and I have mowed steeper slopes, it's really not that hard. I will admit that the terraces shown which were my preferred option with the variety of plants is not as cheap as ivy. Some people want cheap cars and don't mind driving a yugo, others want a better looking, more expensive car. You obviously don't think ivy is a yugo, I do. That's my opinion. I also like Manet better than Monet.

"And I saw plenty of rats in the ivy in DC." How many is "plenty"? To make this claim believable, what would be the details of how you came to be in the ivy, were able to determine that it's an infestation (not just transient rats) and had such contact on more than a single occasion or in a single area? And in what context... residential... commercial? Let's hear details. I lived in DC for 7 years in both residential areas and those that were a mix of residential and commercial. I also worked in a commercial area that I walked to and from. So, the rats that I saw every day in the ivy near the park I walked by were most likely residents. When I lived in a basement apartment and the owner had ivy in the front yard, the rats I saw on a monthly basis were most likely transient to that particular yard but living in the neighborhood. As I said, DC is a city and much more urban. There are likely a lot more rats in any given urban neighborhood than there are in any given suburban neighborhood. Where there are rats, they need to live somewhere. People walk and play on the grass but avoid the ivy as it's not a pleasant walking surface. Why wouldn't they live in the ivy where they can dig and set up dens and not be bothered? Is there a magic in southeastern ivy that repels them that I missed?


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

With mention of the Cal. Invasives Plants Council, I thought I should pay a visit. So here follows their direct quote regarding the ivies in question. It should be observed, first and foremost, that Hedera helix and canariensis are lumped together as though they have the same characteristics, personality and temperament. We can pass this hurdle immediately already knowing that they have many differences. Pay attention to the words in blue. These statements indicate that the Hedera questions are yet to be settled and seems to acknowledge the existence of Hedera species/cultivars that do not rise to the level of being classified as a "problem" in California. The last sentence offers the hope of being able to sort out the issues, but does not guaranty successfully achieving it....

"English ivy or Algerian ivy
Hedera helix or Hedera caneriensis
Some ivy species in the Hedera genus are a problem in California. They can smother understory vegetation, kill trees, and harbor non-native rats and snails. It's difficult to distinguish problem species from less invasive ones. Do not plant ivy near natural areas, never dispose of ivy cuttings in natural areas, and maintain ivy so it never goes to fruit. Researchers hope to determine which ivies can be planted safely."

It should also be noted that it is CAPE IVY--an entirely different South African plant--that the organization is labeling as a threat to California "coastal and riparian" areas.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

I cheerfully stand corrected.

Roaming the reaches of "outer space" they are, searching for monsters (and the odd rat) to slay.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

@ tanowicki, Sorry, you were posting while I writing.

No, I'm not saying that the yard in 2nd picture is 1 acre. It's probably 1/16th A. It is the large, wooded yard (probably about an acre) where I am wondering what you (or others) would do in lieu of grass in order to produce a lawn substitute. Regarding the small urban lawn in the 2nd photo, I think it's a valid personal choice if a homeowner prefers mowing grass over maintaining a groundcover. But I don't think most people would agree that it's practical. I've seen people string-trimming such slopes and people mowing them with ropes attached to the lawn mower. But it doesn't seem like the best solution to me when a much easier one is at hand. That you don't like the look of uniform groundcover is a place where we can contentedly agree to differ, each of us happy with our choice. The terrace solution would be substantially more expensive.

I know there are rats in the world, but I have never been anywhere on a walk where "rats" are seen roaming about so it's hard for me to envision this as a normal, everyday situation. So far, I'm seeing about 1 rat per 20 years of life. They tend to be secretive and remain hidden so it's hard to conceive of how on your walk to work--"every day"--you are seeing them. I can imagine such a scene could exist within walking distance of restaurant dumpsters (not where I hang) or similar conditions. Since the ivy itself is not a food source for rats it would have to mean that some food source is nearby. I suggest that THAT's the problem. Not the ivy. "Where there are rats, they need to live somewhere." This is true. But if it is not a food source that their homes themselves offer, I suggest that ANY groundcover over a few inches tall, dense shrub, dilapidated structure, pile of garbage, or what have you would provide protection and cover and be an attractive home for them. If Hedera helix is available it will work. But that rats are specifically seeking it is a long way from being demonstrated by your observations. We should also mention that the issue of roof rats is a whole other ballgame. While ivy (or any other vine or plants in the vicinity of homes) might could justifiably be accused of being USED BY roof rats, so could downspouts, stucco and a variety of other building materials, urban devices, power lines, etc. NOT having any ivy, guarantees almost no one freedom from roof rats. They are capable of getting to roofs many ways but not through ivy that grows on the ground.


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RE: cape ivy

I'm not jumping your case whitecap. I appreciate that you spurred me to go an look. Thank you.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

  • Posted by catkim San Diego 10/24 (My Page) on
    Sat, Apr 14, 12 at 18:20

Rats -- I only saw live rats 2 or 3 times in the ivy growing over the fence from the neighbor's yard -- but I never saw live rats anywhere else in the garden, ever. The few times I saw them was either late in the day, or while trimming the ivy on my side of the fence. It was ancient and flowered every year. Boots regularly left heads, feet, and entrails of rats at the back door for early morning inspection, but I have no way of knowing where he got them, and he refused to reveal his sources.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

Yardvaark, I think you are asking of Tano a level of scientific certainty you are not able to provide about your own assertions, KGB-like maintenance or not. As I said, you cannot prove there were no rats, and if there are rats, it is not certain without interviewing them them whether they are transient of resident. For all intents and purposes it is enough that ground cover plants provide cover for travel... perhaps from one site of residence to a new one, or just for popping over to visit the in-laws.

For myself, I dislike the ivy yard you showed because - another of the many ways in which we differ - I don't like monoculture plantings in residential settings. Hard for me to say what I would do instead since I really don't know the plants of the region. But maybe Kudzu would be good. Just kidding.

I do know behaviour and argument, and I think if we are all going to try to get along (and whitecap was not part of that, so is welcome to continue being a supercilious jerk), it might be an idea to stop short of seeking full capitulation. KGB is fine for landscape maintenance but not so good for civil conversation.

I will admit I have learned a couple of things here. For example, I did not know that some types of ivy are not considered invasive, nor did I know that there are conditions under which ivy won't grow. That doesn't change that I don't like it, nor that I won't plant it or recommend it.

I simply don't like plants that grow like that whether they are native or not. I rejected the native movement around here on the basis that (a) I don't like a lot of the plants, and (b) when one of the native nazis wrote that salal would make a good ground cover. Yeah, the stuff of which a single plant has covered the entire Pacific Northwest.

So I don't appreciate being lumped in as a native plant nazi because I oppose the planting of ivy for any reason. A little nuance would be welcome here.

Karin L


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Sat, Apr 14, 12 at 18:53

Some of the replies border on the absurd, and don't seem capable of of grasping the salient points. I get that you two ivy lovers don't have much use for the why's and hows of listing plants as invasives, how bird spread invasives can be particularly problematic, or comparisons between different ivy species as coming to the conclusion that similarities in how they invade apply equally. I see the point being made that you find no useful substitute for how you use it for landscaping in your part of the country. Not really my issue to solve for you; there may not be a plant you could substitute in exactly the same way. Were I you, I might be more inclined to think differently about the design and planting choices so I didn't feel backed into that particular corner. As English or Algerian ivies are still perfectly legal to plant across the country, and their potential negative impacts don't concern you, you're both free to continue planting them and accusing others of irrational fear mongering for having different opinions.

Hedera helix does grow just fine here, if babied with lots of regular summer irrigation. It is less successful in full sun conditions away from the coast, where it can sun burn without summer shade. Our lack of summer rain and drier humidity result in Algerian ivy being more widely planted because it is more broadly tolerant of the climate while using less precious water. Mass plantings of English ivy can be painfully slow to completely fill in without lots of irrigation and interim weeding.

The basis for both species of ivy being listed as invasives is exactly because both species can widely reseed if allowed to form fruiting mature growth. In heavily populated coastal California communities, this occurs often enough that BIRD SPREAD SEED can spread both species into coastal woodlands and riparian habitats. I fail to see how this point about ivy keeps getting lost or ignored by Yard and Whitecap. Birds also exist across the country and can spread ivy berries as easily anywhere either species of ivy grows, has been allowed to fruit as it
is primed to do, and is well adapted to
regions or habitats that have sufficient soil moisture spread throughout the year for it to establish. For anyone that has a passing knowledge of California and its various widely divergent microclimates, it shouldn't appear illogical that both ivy species are of more concern to wild areas only in those areas where it can establish itself. As riparian habitats occur across the state, this can put riparian vegetation of widely varying species at risk of being smothered/displaced by ivy. By the way, in case it isn't obvious, birds that may consume ivy in a residential neighborhood are often drawn to creeks, rivers, etc; making ivy's spread that much faster/likely.

As to rats seeking out ivy, it should also be obvious that the cover ivy provides is beneficial to their survival as it screens them from view of raptors which eat them. Apart from ivy also providing perfect habitat for snails, at least here along the west coast USA,, which also both attracts rats and benefits their population growth. I fail to see how someone can continue to deny these corollary effects of large scale ivy plantings.

Lastly, monoculture plantings of ivy, be it English or
Algerian, tend to be habitat deserts for insects and fauna that might otherwise be found in such locations if not planted to ivy. I do consider this another perfectly valid reason to avoid using it. On
a less ecological but more social level, ivy planted at large scale
impedes access for people, in ways that other monocultural
plantings such as lawn don't. Lawns don't tend to encourage rat
population growth, either..

As to what other ground cover could easily replace English ivy for southeastern shaded locations and be planted in mass and not be as problematic; maybe the supposed need for a uniform height, shade tolerant mass planted ground cover isn't the absolute necessity you've made it out to be, but merely an easy out design choice for people who do.t care about unintended consequences, of creating more work for the neighbors who may not share the same love of ivy...


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

And now each of the Gold Dust Twins will hammer out a rebuttal...


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

Hee...


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

Persisting in this dogmatic insistence that the cultivation of ivy represents a "crime against nature" everywhere, without exception, ignoring the evidence that the great weight of informed authority is against you, does not inspire deference. Regrettably, it will be seen by some as validating "stereotypical" thought processes.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

"I don't like monoculture plantings in residential settings." The argument isn't because I'm trying to convince you to like monoculture. It's because you're trying to convince me it deserves no place. Fine for you to believe that. Fine for me to believe otherwise.

"I fail to see how someone can continue to deny these corollary effects of large scale ivy plantings." Because, friend, those corollary effect do not apply outside of your zone of knowledge even though you're trying to impose them there.

"I see the point being made that you find no useful substitute for how you use it for landscaping in your part of the country." Finally, the tiniest dent is made. It seems that no one else has a good recommendation either. Amazing how some are ready to discombobulate another person's solution while they offer no suitable alternative.

The point cannot be missed that OTHER plants can EQUALLY PROVIDE COVER for undesirable wildlife. Some people don't seem capable of of grasping the salient points.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

Hah, I found the plant in my garden today that I would use if I wanted an ivy-look but no ivy, but of course it had no tag any more... I think it is Cardamine trifolia. Forms a totally weed-suppressing, evergreen mat and has nice white flowers to boot. Grows in dry shade. Not tall enough to provide rat cover. Even copes with leaf fall to some extent.

Did I mention I dislike the groundcover Hypericum as much as I dislike ivy? I love the shrubby varieties, but that groundcover one makes me want to set off a bomb every time I see it. Always ill-kempt might be why.

"The argument isn't because I'm trying to convince you to like monoculture. It's because you're trying to convince me it deserves no place." Ah, you know, there we have the nub of the matter again - it always comes to this, and so I'm going to try to address it again - call me stubborn.

Fact is, no one has ever, on this forum, tried to convince you of anything, that I recall (except that no one is trying to convince you of anything). What happens over and over again is that you give one type of advice to an OP, and someone else gives a different type of advice to the OP, that contradicts or cautions about your advice - and you respond in defense and seem to want to convince the other person that your advice should prevail. So you say monoculture, someone else says diversity, and there should be no need AT ALL for you to say anything else. You have both had your say to the OP, and let the OP take it from there.

This really is not landscape consulting. It's more like a potluck dinner hosted by the OP. We all bring a dish. Maybe you don't like mine, and I don't like yours. But the OP can taste, and even enjoy, them both. Neither of us needs to eject the other from the gathering. But we can say something about each other's dishes.

Look, other people around here are disagreeing with each other all the time, and what happens with you rarely happens with anyone else (I'm not going to say never). That's because we either move to clarify, and the conversation actually gets better, or we disengage and let the OP sort it out. Again, that is who we are talking to. So if you advise a multi-trunk shrub by the house, and I say that such a shrub might be better away from the house, you don't have to say anything because I was talking to the OP. I'm not trying to convince you. I'm giving the OP extra information with which they can make a decision that works for them.

Maybe you said to the OP "try my scalloped potatoes." And I say to the OP, "sometimes scalloped potatoes are high in fat." You might want to clarify if you made yours with mozzarella instead of cheddar and with skim milk rather than cream. But you don't have to try to convince me that scalloped potatoes are low in fat. Because, you know, they're not. But if I know you, you will :-)

On the other hand, my dish may be quite low in fat and I might offer it as such. You might say "yes, but it tastes awful." You once said I would engage if someone called me an ecoterrorist or something but you know, I wouldn't. I'll say something like "well, my kids manage to choke it down" and let the OP make up their own mind.

Look, DD and Bahia just both disagreed with something I said on another thread. Heck, they ridiculed what I said. No sweat. I'll clarify why I said what I did, if I feel like any additional information would help to position the option for the OP, and maybe they clarify too, and then we move on, maybe all the wiser, maybe not. Sometimes I don't say anything at all if I've said my piece and feel it stands as it is.

The fact that someone is referencing what you said does not mean that they are trying to convince you of anything. But once you engage, YOU are certainly trying to convince THEM. You are like a pit bull who holds on until you hear the word "uncle." OK, that's a mixed metaphor.

What I sense you driving for in these conversations is to get to the point where for the other poster says "you're right, that is the best advice." That is like saying the host needs to decide on one dish that is brought to the potluck. Not gonna happen.

The potluck consists of what we all bring to the meal. We can denigrate, ridicule, and suggest no one eat what the other person brought, but we can't stop anyone or the cook themselves from eating it, nor can any of us prevent others from going home and COOKING THE SAME THING AGAIN for their families.

Whatever. I did my best. I appreciate your perspectives partly because they are so different from mine. I like diversity in ideas as well as in plants. But I'm not going to adopt your ideas because they are not mine. And I'm not going to cheerlead for them. I don't expect you to cheerlead for me either. If I go off track, tell the OP what I said wrong. With luck, others will chime in and the OP will have a full menu to choose from.

Karin L


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Sat, Apr 14, 12 at 23:47

In fact, I've understood your point about no good substitutes with similar ease of growth all along Yard, and don't bother condescending to use words like "friend" in your replies. In this part of the country, equally boring monoculture ground covers such as Vinca major or Hypericum calycinum tend to be used in situations such as your dry shade, but have their own downsides. Hypericum can look shabby at times, and does need more consistent irrigation here locally, as well as annual mowing back to keep it looking fresh. The Vinca major and Hypericum both have the virtue of being dead easy and don't climb trees, but both can also naturalize in coastal woodlands and riparian habitats here in California. The one benefit these both have over English ivy is that they aren't invasive via birds. Even in England where Hedera helix is native and provides winter nectar and winter blooming appreciated by the locals, as well as food for local birds; it is still a nuisance plant that can invade neighbor's gardens whether they want it or not.

I haven't seen you respond even one time here as to whether English ivy isn't a problem invasive in at least some parts of the southeast. And again; as i keep repeating, caution is in order when planting other known bird spread invasive plants such as Nandina, Japanese Honeysuckle, Ligustrum lucidum, etc if these are known to be problem invasives in your area. I don't see one iota of any concern for such potential problems from you, and instead the emphasis is always on how useful ivy is for the purposes you need to accommodate.

I get that, enough said on the topic from my end, continue to enjoy your right to ignore unintended consequences. After all, rare or endangered plants/animals/insects at risk from escaped ornamental plantings of ivy which then become further vectors of more infestations are of no concern to you. This is the message I receive loud and clear from your unabashed support for ivy. There is no bridging of this philosophical divide, but I'll leave you and Whitecap to have the last word, that's a promise...


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

If only sanctimony could be bottled, and there were a market for it. . .


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

You have to let them get the last word, or the discussion will never end.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

I suggest a little glance in the mirror, Whitecap. If you are looking for sanctimony, that is where you will find it. You have not yet perfected the art of letting others be as free as you want them to leave you, nor of giving others the respect you would like to generate. And that is why you fail to get it.

Karin L


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

Objections to uninformed ethical bossiness did not begin, nor will they end, with this thread.

As for "respect," surely it is not supposed that I am unaware that I here tread upon hostile ground. I'm not permitted to comment on the "progressive" mindset on sites like Daily Kos.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

"So if you advise a multi-trunk shrub by the house, and I say that such a shrub might be better away from the house, you don't have to say anything because I was talking to the OP. I'm not trying to convince you."

So Karin, according to your "pot luck" theory of the way the forum should work, when you recommend an idea I disagree with, I can comment to the OP about what a horrible idea your suggestion is is? ....and since I'll be talking to the OP, you'll not say anything in defense of your idea (as that would be construed as trying to convince me)... even if you think my justification is not valid? Instead of focusing my comments negatively on the ideas of others, I'm generating my own ideas and defending them... or bolstering the good comments I see others make. My mistake.

"Look, DD and Bahia just both disagreed with something I said on another thread. Heck, they ridiculed what I said. No sweat. I'll clarify why I said what I did, if I feel like any additional information would help to position the option for the OP ..." Now I'm confused. According to your "pot luck" theory, YOU can come back"...because that's CLARIFICATION. If I do, it's trying to CONVINCE others and jam something down their throat....?? Karin, what you've described sounds very much to be a psycho-twisted Twilight Zone sort of arrangement... weighted in favor of what you agree with and against what you oppose.

It sounds to me like you want to have your cake and eat it, too.

Bahia, don't bother to condescend with your manipulative, phony environmental warnings.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

Why can't you just accept the judgment that you're an environmental cretin, and let it go? Everyone's entitled to their opinion, you know?

"Mirror, mirror, on the wall
Who's the most ethical of them all?"


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

No, Yardvaark, I am not trying to have it both ways; clarifying is different from what you do.

In a way this is made both easier and more complicated by the fact that there are two design elements that you are really attached to and continue to use over and over, while most other people will post different suggestions depending on the context. The two ideas that you like do have some weaknesses, so they are pointed out every time - thus we get into the same conversations over and over.

In contrast, ideas being articulated for the first time may not be clear and may need clarification; also, if a bunch of parameters need to be played off against each other, it takes some time to work out which ones really matter to the OP. So I say clematis, Bahia says rosemary. In critiquing each others' suggestions, or in presenting what we think are their advantages, we bring out different elements of both options, and of others, that actually help the OP start to think through the implications of either plant - annual maintenance vs. once in a blue moon, for example. Plant hanging fairly flat on wall vs. quite a thick pad under the green layer. A tracery of branches vs a mass. The critique pushes us to develop our ideas, rather than to defend them. We are moving toward helping the OP develop the vision, not creating a tug of war between the two of us. When you respond you quite often are not adding information about your advice, but simply putting forward your idea more forcefully. There is little point to that. Sometimes, in contrast, you do add info, and that is welcome, not a problem.

To be specific about one of your favoured elements, my experience says that a deciduous shrub planted against the house wall is usually going to lean for the light. Your taste says that a big blank wall on a house invites shrubbery planted against it. So you are always going to advise an OP toward that, and I am always going to advise an OP of the possible outcome and suggest an alternate approach. That does not have to turn into an argument every time. You could forestall it by either saying it yourself to start with, or simply by not reacting when I say my piece. Again, I do not react when someone justifiably eliminates my suggestions or if they point out their downsides. Look at threads where I say a tree could or should be cut down. I don't get into an argument with the whole forum insisting that I'm right (even if I post more than once). I let other suggestions play against mine so the OP gets, again, a full menu of options.

In saying what I do about the behaviour of plants that you recommend, I am not discrediting you or any other advice you give. I don't know what else to say to convince you to just let these things go when they come up. Perhaps you are like this in real life too, but I really do get a feeling there is a nice guy behind your conviction that two planting approaches are going to work for all applications.

We all have pet issues, or pet peeves, sometimes because there are common misconceptions that are brought to the forum (you know, the "riot of colour, low maintenance" type). We do get into mutually abusive and sometimes (fortunately) hilarious mutual insults. It's not all sweetness and light, but what I think captures its essence is that it is always going somewhere. There is something about how you argue that has us all stuck in one place, one rut, one groove on the record. That is what I keep trying to get us all out of - but in the end, we can only change our own behaviour, not anyone else's.

By the way, does Asarum canadense grow in the southeast? That is another one that might be an ivy alternative in my area if that look is wanted.

Karin L

PS an old thread is linked below in which monoculture planting is discussed at some length.

Here is a link that might be useful: is simple boring?


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

Karin, I do think you want it both ways. My way of dealing with the suggestions that you make over and over and over is to say nothing to little about them. I let the OP sort out whether they want to cut down their mature trees or nave no foundation plantings. Quietly, I almost always disagree with those solutions, but say nothing. You, however, are insistent on sweeping in before or after me with a big warning sign cautioning the OP to watch out for the horrible suggestion that I've made or will make. I don't see it as clarification. Bringing this back to ivy, so much of what you claim is either wrong, or just your personal bias. It NEEDS clarification.

There's no longer any mystery about whether we'll remain at odds about landscape philosophy or how the forum should operate. In spite of that, I believe that getting along is possible. Let's let the Golden Rule prevail. If wish to "clarify" issues about my posts to "help" the OP in their decision-making process, surely you will view it as equally important that I do the same.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

By all means. And then it will be my job to respond productively.

Karin L


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

My sleep was greatly troubled last night by the shock of being informed (in terms most cutting) that, despite having here listened in silence to hopelessly trite "talking points" about U.S. foreign policy and cultural ('Gold Dust Twin') slurs directed at me by resident "stewards of the environment," I can here expect no "respect." The horra. . .


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

I hate to participate in a pub fight - but I have to say: Whitecap, with the language you've been using here, it's only natural to get such responses!


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

To make a clean breast of it, it would be disingenuous of me to seriously suggest that I haven't enjoyed myself immensely.


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

Please don't feed the trolls...


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RE: For the Love of Ivy (Warning: Photo Heavy Thread)

I know you can do better than that.


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