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Ivy - lovers or haters?

A colleague just sent me this link to the Telegraph gardening advice for the week, they have already tweeted their concern at the advice around ivy. Not only do they recommend killing it off and brand it is as invasive, they recommend opting for the good old 'kill it with a strong weedkiller' approach!

My goat is got! I am a huge fan of ivy and the benefit it can bring to wildlife, it is arguably the best plant to have in your garden for wildlife. So i'm going to just explain a few reasons why I think Helen Yemm's advice is bad news for birds and our native flora!

Ivy as food - at this time of year ivy is flowering, it is one of the latest flowering native plants and a vital source of food for bees, butterflies and other late flying insects. Later in the winter the berries will form and provide food for birds and mammals when most other berries and fruit have been consumed. The foliage in the spring and summer may also be taken by many insect larvae including the holly blue.

Ivy as shelter - the tangled branches of ivy and evergreen leaves provide an attractive nesting and roosting site for many species of bird. You may also find butterflies and moths hidden amongst the dense growth. In a garden, an ivy covered wall could be the home of your local flock of red listed sparrows, your favourite tame robin or the more elusive wrens, dunnocks and song thrushes. Killing it before winter arrives is basically destroying the potential shelter for favourite garden species at a time of year where they need it!

Ivy as an insulator - an ivy covered wall is a much better insulated wall than an exposed one, if your looking at ways to prevent heat being lost from your house, grow ivy up the walls!

Busting myths and management - ivy is a native species, it is not invasive nor is it a strangling plant. It does not kill the tree it grows on and it does not pulls walls down. However, as with any other climber, it does need managing. It should be cut back to the required level, ideally sections that are in need of a trim should be taken off in the autumn but always try to leave at least some parts to flower and fruit. If ivy is growing into any gaps where it's expansion could cause damage cut it away from these areas, if this is done then the ivy shouldn't pose any problems.

So, the question is, are you a fan of ivy and the benefits it brings or are you more likely to follow the Telegraph advice and destroy our native flora? If you don't agree with Helen Yemm's advice, why not tell her so on the comments page of the telegraph article linked above.

Warden Intern at Otmoor.

  • Massive, massive fan! Was so pleased to hear Chris Packham championing it on Autumnwatch last week too! Shall go and have a look at the article now! :-)

    "All weeds are flowers, once you get to know them" (Eeyore)

    My photos on Flickr

  • In reply to Rockwolf:

    Cakes and Ivy, CP did a grand job on both accounts! It's not much of an article, literally just how (not) to get rid of ivy!!!

    Warden Intern at Otmoor.

  • In reply to IanH:

    I'm a massive fan, too. In addition to all the excellent points raised by you, Ian, I love the look of my house with half of the front and one side covered with it, ground to top. It takes the hardness out of the modern red brick and looks splendid all year round. Mine is flowering now. Lovely berries soon.

    Cheers, Linda.

    See my photos on Flickr

  • In reply to IanH:

    Ian H said:
    It's not much of an article

    That's an understatement! Lol!

    Have tweeted them what I think!

    "All weeds are flowers, once you get to know them" (Eeyore)

    My photos on Flickr

  • In reply to Rockwolf:

    Nicely done!

    Warden Intern at Otmoor.

  • In reply to IanH:

    I like my ivy but it’s a little close to the house and low down so I am digging some of it up and training it up the 6’ back fence near the feeders and hopefully might get something nesting in it once established the bush’s that are already there are tall but a bit thin with vegetation.

    Jim

    Jim

    My Pictures

    My Fbook Group

  • In reply to James:

    It is definitely a great plant for wildlife but anyone denying it harms trees is living in cloud cuckoo land.In the gales recently every tree in the parish damaged by the wind was because of the massive amount of ivy towards the top of the tree which caught the wind and snapped off the tree or caused it to be uprooted.