Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Foliage Follow-Up: August 2011

This month's Foliage Follow-Up is dedicated to my back fence: a hot mess of browning English ivy and bird-planted hackberry seedlings growing onto, into and all around an ugly chain-link fence. Ugh.
Drought-stricken ivy and hackberry seedlings

The ivy has traveled to our fence from blocks away. [Edit: two blocks, to be precise.] If left to its own devices, it would happily take over our yard. As an invasive plant species, it gets zero irrigation. It's usually a lush, deep green. It's not done well in the drought. I'm not particularly sad about this.
Drought-stricken English ivy

Now would be an opportune time to rip it all out, especially since our "brushy" pick-up from the city is scheduled this week. But in this unrelenting heat, neither I nor Jack have the will.
Drought-stricken English ivy

Say what you will about invasive plants (and I've said some stuff about them), but the wildlife sees this overgrown jungle as a safe haven. I saw a garter snake slither into the undergrowth last Friday. I'm sure more than one bird couple has nested here. I'm certain more than one caterpillar has metamorphosed into a butterfly here. And anoles live here, too. (Do you see the little bent legs and tail?)
Anole hiding in ivy

So removing this foliage would need to be done in phases, allowing the wildlife time to relocate, and planting more desirable vines and plants that can nurture the wildlife just as well, if not better, than the ivy and hackberries.

I'm fairly certain three years into a Exceptional Drought is not the best time to make this transition. But it's tempting.

Thanks to Pam at Digging for hosting Foliage Follow-Up. Visit her blog and post some foliage stories of your own.

Words and photos © 2009-2011 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.


  1. Wow, Caroline--it got to your yard from *blocks* away? I knew it was invasive but didn't realize just how bad. Good point about it's sheltering wildlife though.

  2. Yes, Pam, two blocks away (I'll edit the post so people don't think I mean 10 blocks!). It travels all along the fence lines and up into the trees. It's insane.

  3. BUT, pruned to the shape of your fence would be eye pleasing, :)

  4. Invasive, but it does give you some much needed green and color. Brown's a color, right?
    I'm thinking we're going to need to have a better appreciation for that color, around here.
    Stay cool...

  5. I can see where the browning ivy would not make you particularly sad. I go back and forth with that in my own garden, when I see some obnoxious weed that looks fried, crispy, mildewy or otherwise bad. On the one hand, I can't help but gloat. On the other hand, I sort of feel indignant... like, how DARE this horrible plant that I don't want anyway look SO bad?!!! :-D

  6. Ivy is something that always seems slow to establish if you want it to grow and impossibly invasive if you don't! As you say the wildlife loves it so maybe you can prune it to control it and learn to like it a bit if not actually love it.