A few posts ago, I wrote about how I was going to pull out all the English ivy (Hedera helix) in the landscape bed beside the garage. Today, I started working on that. This morning I thought I would "just do it", and have the whole thing finished by mid-afternoon. However, it turns out to be a bigger tangle of ivy than I thought. By lunch time, I knew I had a big job on my hands!
The good news is that I didn't find any snakes or voles or other critters in the ivy. I'm not saying that something might not be living in all that ivy, just that I didn't find anything. I also got to spend about 5 hours outside in the sun and fresh air and get some moderate exercise. Temperatures were in the 30's and 40's, but with the sun, I was quite comfortable and never got cold. And, I did uncover the three deutzia shrubs which I am attempting to "save" from all the ivy.
The bad news is that I am only about half way done, optimistically, and I filled 9 trash bags with ivy. I also think that it will take me a couple of years to really get rid of all the ivy because I am leaving a lot of roots. I'll have to put on hold my plan to replant that area with Vinca minor as a ground cover. Depending on the weather, I will have to finish pulling up all the ivy through the week and wrap up this project next Saturday. Then, I'll mulch the whole bed and proceed to keep watch and pull up ivy starts as they come up.
Some would say I should have known better when I planted the ivy! I knew it would spread. But I told myself it would be just in that one bed, and wouldn't really get out of hand. And it would be so nice hanging over the retaining wall. It did look nice, just like I thought it would! And it never spread beyond that one bed. But it really is quite a thicket now, and it was covering up the deutzias, which have pretty white flowers on them in late spring.
I even looked up on the Internet to see if there is some "magic" way to get rid of the ivy. Weed killers don't work well because the leaves are leathery with a waxy coating, so the chemicals just roll off. (Not that I wanted to use a weed killer in that bed). In my search for a "cure" for the ivy, or more appropriately a 'sure death sentence' for the ivy, I also found out the Hedera helix is listed as a noxious weed in some states (particularly out west), which means in those states, you aren't allowed to grow it and can be fined or arrested for willfully doing so. Indiana doesn't list this as a noxious weed, so I don't have to worry about being arrested for growing it.
And I found out that this ivy is member of the 'ginseng' family, and many people are sensitive to the oils from the plant. I don't think I'm sensitive to the oils, based on not having any problems today. Though when I return to pull out more of the ivy, if it remembers me, I might be in trouble. Hey, that would make a great horror movie!