It’s raining in Torquay

Ivy leaves keep falling on my head
Ivy leaves keep falling on my head

Well OK, actually it probably isn’t.

I refer readers to a previous post, namely ‘What’s going on in Torquay‘, an expose of a little area of my garden (in the deep shade of a yew tree) so named because, being a collection of of potted box balls, hostas, spikey things, ferns, melianthus – and also, now, a couple of banana plants donated by a friend – it does somewhat resemble the oddly artificial frontage of a south coast resort hotel (all it needs is an uplighter and hey presto).

In fact I wrote the piece principally to sing the praises of the plants that, with minimal effort, thrive there.  I am very fond of my ‘Torquay’.

So the rain to which I refer is  not the horticulturally useful wet kind of rain which rarely penetrates the yew canopy – it is foliar.  The yew tree is/was infested with common ivy  (Hedera helix) – so badly that you could see the stuff waving around out of the top of its (reasonably tough and mighty) host.

This year it was clear that the whole, over-vigorous mass  was going eventually to make the yew top heavy and even hinder its new growth.  Something had to be done.  Continuing to turn a blind eye was no longer an option.  And who was going to sort it out if I didn’t?

So one sunny Sunday morning last month I set about the gnarled, hairy, clinging ivy arteries that snaked their way up the yew trunk with a pruning saw. There were loads of them  –  some of them almost as thick as my wrist. Then, working off a slighly tipsy ladder,  I wrenched out as much of the upper growth as I could reach – which alas was not much.

I carried out this horrid work in hot weather hoping that the severed ivy would drop its leaves reasonably quickly.  The plan is to re-cut the inevitable re-growth of the ivy in winter and immediately paint the cut the ends with a weedkiller made for the purpose which should, as the expression goes, stop it whistling in church – for a while at any rate.

The ghastly result of a morning’s hard graft is, as expected, a more or less constant shower of  wilted, browning ivy leaves that sit hideously on the box balls and get caught up in the ferns, the spikey things and other foliage plants.  And, depressingly,  I know the area will be a real mess for months and need constant clearing.

Ivy is trying to invade just about everywhere in the leafy ‘woodland’ end of my garden.  While it can harm trees by making them heavy- headed in winter and vulnerable in high winds, it’s also an important haven for breeding butterflies and all sorts of wild life.

So I  refuse to get obsessed with eradicating it – I will just have to tackle it as and when its incursion threatens other plants.  And annoyingly, I’ll just have to put up with being ‘rained on’  in Torquay for the rest of the summer – and well beyond I suspect.


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