Friday, March 20, 2009

Curse Of The Hederahelix

I do not care about your hardwood floors. Nor do I care about your designer furniture, each piece of which undoubtedly cost more than my car. I do not care about anything behind those massive windows and that meticulously maintained siding. If you hire me to increase the curb appeal (if I may bandy about a buzzword) of your soon-to-hit-the-market home, I just don't care about anything other than how your yard looks and how it compliments the exterior of your home. Rest assured this is not apathy on my part; I am a gardener and it is my job to know how plants and landscapes affect people on both a conscious and subconscious level. Nowhere on my resume does it mention 20th century movements in interior design, and your expertise clearly ends at the walls of your house or else you would not have sought my help.
Therefore: get rid of the ivy.
Trust me.
If you take from me one piece of advice and ignore all else, let this be it.
I'm sure the thought of English Ivy sends all sorts of classical, white-marble allegories prancing through your head, but to many people this green, snaking, choking beast represents something else entirely. It is the raw, coiled potential to destroy a yard. Slayer of trees, devourer of beds, no matter how well and often you trim it back, some potential home buyers will see that ivy for what it is: doom (I don't know if there's a buzzword for this in relation to "curb appeal", we'll just say "curb terror" and it's probably something you want to avoid). Even its Latin name, Hedera helix, seems more mythical serpent monster than plant.


You know... come to think of it, keep the ivy if you want, I have a plan that's bigger than you or your house. I believe through the widespread dissemination of English Ivy's Latin name, spoken in hushed, fearful tones we could start to create the sort of urban legend fear we need to discourage the use and tolerance of ivy. For example, picture two huddled strangers on the sidewalk:
"It can't be true!"
"It is true! My sister heard from her mailman, and he knows the whole neighborhood. He's seen the Hederahelix in at least 2 yards on our street alone!"
"Oh God What do we do!? I heard of a town in Oregon that saw signs of the Hederahelix and 3 months later... the town was gone! No one could find it and no one heard from any of its citizens again! What do we do!?"
"Try to calm down. I want you to run to the hardware store and buy the biggest pair of pruning shears you can find. Do you know how to make napalm?"
"OK, that's OK. I know you're lethal with a pair of shears, they'll have to do. Once you have those, run home and be with your children, they need you."
"But then what do we do?!"
"Then...we pray."

That's it, this will work. Curb appeal be damned, I have an urban legend to create.


  1. I hear a tendril tapping on my back door--rushing for the Felcos!

  2. Argg and I see them coming through the back fence. Why are you calling this a myth?

  3. HA Maranta, very apt and funny at the same time. We actually planted the hedera along the long wall behind our house in ignorance, thinking the lavender and salvias could just rise above it and co exist in happy plant heaven. It took two years to see the error and it was all dug out, but not before being festooned by armfuls to decorate the church for my daughter's wedding, free and plentiful. But your legend sounds promising!
    Frances at Fairegarden

  4. Frances - the only good Hedera is one that's not in the ground... at least you got some use out of yours!

  5. I so wish I'd read this many years ago before I planted our ivy along the side of my house and fence, and at the base of a few trees! Thankfully, my neighbor loves as it pokes through my fence into their yard, they don't cry as I do that it is overtaking them! I pull and cut every year but it comes back. I still enjoy it, in small quantities...I just wish I'd known better when I spent so much time planting it!! I would have used my time in a much better way...say, planting hellebores or some other way-cool perennial;-)

  6. Too funny. So glad I found this blog. I've left you a message at Blotanical--have you found them?

  7. Great topic! And funny too...

    Our last house in California originally had English ivy in the front yard four feet high. Someone in the 1950s had thought it would be pretty to plant it there too. It took us a year of hard work to get rid of it.

  8. You are cracking me up... RUN, everybody - before you're overtaken by the tendrils!!!

    I hate ripping the stuff out, much as I hate to see it in the ground - the pollen swells up my poor snoot and makes me feel terrible.