MOST people, if told to choose just one climber for their garden, would ignore the common green ivy. It’s easy to be seduced by flowers and variegated foliage – showier cousins Goldheart and Glacier are certainly prettier.
My garden, however, came with its own supply of the green stuff – growing out of a crack between the outer staircase and the garage wall.
There’s no soil, so it must have seeded itself there.
It’s now covered the whole of the wall and looks very handsome. For years, that was it, but in the last few autumns, it’s started to flower.
The yellowish-green flowers are borne in small clusters and have a honey scent.
This where a “slight” difference of opinion occurs between the rest of the family and me. It attracts insects – lots of insects – bees, wasps, hoverflies, flies, butterflies, you name it.
As it covers the wall leading to our back door, people don’t appreciate the benefit to wildlife. They see the wasps and think they’ll get stung, prompting a text from my son saying: “Will you get that wasps’ nest sorted out!”
Ivy’s late flowering season makes it a valuable source of nectar for many insects prior to hibernation.
The black berries, ripe from November to January, provide many birds, particularly wood pigeon, thrushes and blackbirds, with abundant food supplies during the most severe months of winter.
I can vouch for this, when a huge wood pigeon flew into my face a few years ago when walking up the stairs in the dark with bags of shopping.
As I’m sure most of you know, all parts of the ivy are toxic to human, but not other animals, strangely.
Best of all, wearing a wreath of ivy leaves around the brow is supposed to prevent one from getting drunk, as it was dedicated to the Roman god Bacchus, the God of Intoxication!