Tidying the ivy

Yes, I admit, my wife is always right, and hopefully this admission cools any hot water that is likely to bubble up when I question otherwise.

Of course, I knew that some of the various ivies would be problems, someday, and I didn’t pay much attention until I drove home yesterday and found her at the edge of the driveway with pole tree pruners attempting to chop ivy that was climbing halfway up a tall crapemyrtle.

This was all wrong, I knew, and rather than argue the point and leave her to suffer through the absolute worst tool for the task, I parked and grabbed my pruners. There’s only one way at this chore, and that’s to wade into the rose beneath the crapemyrtle, thorns and short pants be darned, to chop every stem of the ivy within easy reach. Then, yank to pull as much out of the crapemyrtle as possible. The few stragglers left behind will fade over time.

Yes, I know, the ivy should have been pruned years ago (or perhaps never planted), as I’ve been reminded a time or two, and this came to a head when my wife tried chopping ivy out of a lower Japanese maple last summer. Perhaps she was a few snips in when a small black snake appeared from within the tangle of stems. That ended her pruning for the day, and the season, and this experience was the primary reason that the long handled pruner was yesterday’s tool of choice. She wasn’t even thinking about the thorny rose. It was the snake she had in mind, and with a twelve foot handle she thought this was far enough out of potential harm’s way..

The various ivies scattered around the garden are my wife’s personal nemesis, I think. She’s become more irregular the past few years, but her dedicated mission is to snip every stem of ivy the moment it touches one of the garden’s paths (above). I don’t know what I would do without her. I expect when a path disappeared completely I’d do some chopping, but regularly, not a chance.

The problem is not the ivies, but every other stem of treasured shrubs and hostas that might stray an inch onto a path. These are butchered without mercy, or consideration that sweetbox (Sarcococca, above) should be selectively pruned, not chopped. I have mentioned this to my wife, but of course, she sees no gray area. Plants must stay put, and if not, she’ll have something to say about it.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. tonytomeo says:

    English ivy, and to a lesser degree, Algerian ivy, is one of the most aggressive of the invasive exotic weeds. It climbs high into the redwoods and anything else it gets into. For the tallest of the redwoods, we can only cut it at the base and let it deteriorate over many MANY years. One of my pet peeves is when it gets cut and left in lower trees that is should be pulled from. As it dries, it is more difficult to remove. The so-called ‘gardeners’ at Felton Covered Bridge Park did this to several box elders and others.

    1. Dave says:

      Long ago, I said I’d keep the ivies tamed before they climbed. But, didn’t happen.

      1. tonytomeo says:

        Well, it is not exactly easy.

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