Marvellous and multifaceted - why it's time you entered the ivy league
Life & Style

Marvellous and multifaceted - why it's time you entered the ivy league

AUTUMN can be an extraordinary season and never more so than in these unpredictable times.

It is contradictory in many ways, having far more warmth and sunshine than is usually allowed, and it is profoundly sensual.

It is sweet smelling of corruption yet filled with lingering scents and memories of unimaginable loveliness.

The saddest weeks are those as we approach winter, for the magnificence is finally ended by endless downpours and high wind.

Wet days of course will always take their toll on the appearance and spirit of the ornamental garden.

The petals on late perennials turn increasingly brown with excess moisture, then flop to the muddy soil like wet moths.

Those that remain try to hold their chins above the mud, but their leaves turn dull and unexciting as they struggle in distress.

Dahlias, which looked so promising just a few weeks ago, are turning to mush smacked down by deteriorating weather.

I turn in disgust and look away to that part of the garden containing mostly shrubs, then on to a circular thicket of box, a mature silver birch, and boundary wall clothed in dark ivy.

This looks marvellously polished just now and it glistens with a shiny, black-green intensity lightened by odd splashes of gold.

Being mature, it boasts large leaves and clusters of emerging berries which will later blacken and become delicious food for birds and overwintering bluebottles which they consume with relish.

When you start looking for ivy you see it everywhere. And how marvellously multifaceted it is.

Pale green and gold varieties trail from window boxes in city and town, whilst curtains of ivy foliage soften garden walls and house fronts.

You will even find it in cemeteries where delicate wands frame the names on lichen encrusted gravestones.

In its wild rampaging form, it can appear like a vast cloth thrown over a wall to hang down almost to ground level with an air of faded grandeur.

Pluck a leaf and study its shape. Each is quite unique, a triangular shaped creation unlike any other foliage plant in the garden, cyclamen hederifolium excepted.

Its leaf markings are truly remarkable. When studied up close, thread-like white veins show up on a dark green background as if created and drawn by a pencil artist.

'Buttercup' is a form I love to recommend in sunny situations for it has shiny, yellow leaves, lightly splashed with odd bits of green here and there.

It must be grown in full sun to get the best colouring otherwise it chooses to turn more green than gold.

‘Goldheart’ is another worth growing, an evergreen generously splashed and marked with yellow and chartreuse.

Old plants can revert to all green so watch for emerging growths and remove them immediately.

Caption for attachment; If you get bored with a wall covering of green ivy it can always be livened up by the addition of a little humorous artwork, seen here peeping out from the dark recesses