Speaking as a gardener rather than a plant scientist, I could make a fairly coherent argument that English Ivy (Hedera helix) is my favourite plant. And that’s after four hours hacking back out of control arborescent ivy, coming into the house occasionally for tea and sticking plasters. My wife, I’m sure, would point to my orchid collection and say “What about those then”? But over the years I’ve encouraged ivy to grow in many parts of my garden, those I am too busy or too lazy to be more active in “managing”. And it’s never let me down, eventually getting going in the porest of soil (waterlogged clay in my case) and deepest of shade, producing a thick, year round glossy green blanket where a million ladybirds snooze away the winter and the birds nest in Spring.
Of course, there’s always a price to pay, such as the day I’ve just spent hacking back when the stems get the same diameter as my arm and the arborescent stems start to block out the sun. But no other plant I know thrives on such neglect, and gives back so much, feeding birds and insects while I sit and surf. And as I sit here typing, listening to Elvis Costello and sipping my tea, it’s out there now, grabbing the last few photons of the fading light and turning them into, well, ivy.
Alan Cann, Leicester, UK.