Variegated tree ivy –
Thanks to its invasive habit and seemingly insignificant flowers, it’s easy to dismiss climbing ivy as an irritant with little or no garden value, but nothing could be further from the truth.
I hardly dared tell my co-gardener that I’d chosen an ivy as the star of the show this week because earlier this year he’d spent hours and hours disentangling and digging out the climbing variety that had imbedded itself in our mature yew hedge.
Today’s subject, however, the tree ivy, shows no inclination whatever to climb and furthermore, it’s not even a tree; it’s a neat, dense and rounded shrub that, after 33 years, is no more than 1.5 metres high and a little less across.
When we moved here all those years ago it was one of the few plants that I actually dug up from my old garden to bring with us. In those days I was a bee-keeper and I was already aware that ivy was one of the most important late-season providers of (mainly) nectar in the autumn, for bees and for many other pollinators besides.
This very hardy, long-lived shrub can be grown in sun, part-shade or shade, but bees prefer working in sunshine (don’t we all at this time of the year!). Our tree ivy grows in the dappled shade of a young oak tree where its gentle, creamy variegation gives the shrub a ‘lift’ on a dull November day.
The variegated one might be difficult to source so if you can only find the plain leaved one it will do almost as good a job.
NB Louise has published a beautifully produced book of her plant profiles – A Plant for Each Week of the Year. It costs £9.99 and is for sale in our online shop here.
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