Friday, June 6, 2014

Beating the ivy

I'd been away in the south for a visit to see my Dad in hospital and so hadn't spent much time in the garden.  I decided that I needed to clear away the ivy in the kitchen garden to have any hope of growing anything there.  It seemed to centre on the laburnum tree, which was covered in ivy and seemed to be struggling.

I'm not sure what permaculturists have to say about ivy.  It's a very invasive and destructive plant, but I assume it must have some role to play in nature, adding something to the environment - or maybe breaking it down to allow for other plants to follow on.  In my garden the ivy had been left to run riot, and was climbing up the new back wall, up the old side wall, all over the poor laburnum and spreading across the ground in the kitchen garden.

I think ivy on a new wall is not such a worry, because there shouldn't be many footholds for it to work itself in.  Ivy on an old wall is much more of a concern, as it may exploit any cracks or weaknesses in the wall.  The tree seemed to be suffering badly, with some branches having died altogether.

Having bought a climbing rose on impulse at the local garden centre in Mill Lane in Middle Rasen, I needed to clear some of the wild geranium, which is spreading everywhere, too, and is particularly thickly spread over that corner of the kitchen garden.

I discovered that it pulled up quite easily, but the rhizome that it grows from would generally stay in the ground, so I started to loosen up the soil with a fork and pull up the rhizomes.  I had a second problem that the soil level in the kitchen garden is extremely variable and needs fixing, but I didn't have time before I needed to go south again, and so I simply cleared and area, took it down in height, and planted the rose, which looks very healthy.

Meanwhile, Kim had carried on the job of removing the ivy on the laburnum tree.  Ali began to help and soom managed to get most of the ivy off the trunk we had been working on. 

The following day, they carried on, and managed to get some of the very thick vines off the main trunk.  It seemed that the ivy had worked itself into the trunk though.  About thirty minutes later, the trunk split all the way down and the left trunk began to collapse.

The following day, I started to cut out the ivy in an attempt to save that part of the tree, but soon realized it wasn't feasible.  John helped me to cut it down, and Kim did a sterling job of lopping off branches and cutting them down to fit in our green refuse bags.  I am giving the trunks to a friend for seasoning, as he makes things with wood.

While I was away in the south, John and Kim cleared the Kitchen garden of ivy completely.  They managed to save one trunk of the tree, and remove all the ivy from it.

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