Covered in Ivy

Back in the 1950s, we girls used to daydream of having a little white cottage covered in vines, enclosed within a white picket fence. Of course, we’d marry somebody tall, dark, and handsome, and cook meals right out of Good Housekeeping.

Image result for vine covered cape cod house

Only in Nantucket. I did marry my tall, dark, handsome guy and moved into a concrete block house with no vines or fence, only a pair of oak trees in front and a tall hedge around three sides. We cultivated four orange trees still bearing fruit — sweet Valencia oranges yielding the best juice we had ever tasted in Florida.

In the mid-1970s, my husband’s job sent us across the country to a house with wood shingle siding. We painted the exterior a light grey, with white trim. We parked a white Luytens bench on the front porch and planted roses and herbs. I added young English ivy starts and fretted over the first year of “sleep” before the second or third year of “creep.” Finally, the ivy vines began to “leap” and climb the house wall and the back fence, helping to transform the lot into an English garden styled after a Gertrude Jekyll design.

An ivy covered wall or fence can provide a grace note for a garden if it is kept trimmed within bounds and not allowed to run rampant.

Image result for ivy plants on walls

Forty years on, I did allow it to run rampant. Health issues slowed me down to the point I couldn’t keep up. The garden became a hodge-podge of overgrown herbs and perennials and invading grass as well as untamed ivy. Last week we hired a lovely yard man who is busy at work cutting and pulling down the overgrowth. Trails where the vines left their mark streak bare walls. Trunks have to be sawn down without damaging the wood. It’s ugly. But not for long.

Image result for Walls stripped of ivy

A fall paint job is the impetus for clearing the walls. The color we’ve chosen is a Cape Cod grey to replace the long-faded dingy color. And, of course, the once white trim work will be refreshed, too, something like this, but with our recessed ranch-style front porch . . .

Image result for modern ranch painted grey

Now, about those ivy roots. The vines will sleep a year or more, then begin to creep again. Someone else in the future can deal with the leaping stage.

Image result for new ivy shoots






Just short of fifty years of holy matrimony, I am blessed to be a mother of two and grandmother of seven. Much of my writing speaks to the culture and tradition of the Deep South, where I spent the first thirty-five years of my life before relocating to the Pacific Northwest. As a poet and essayist, I’ve published both online and in print media. In mid-February 2019, I launched Roses in the Rain: A Daughter's Story, following a successful couple years of Invitation to the Garden, both on Watch for upcoming installments to the memoir blog every Tuesday. The garden posts follow on Friday/Saturday. I look forward to hearing from you all!

3 thoughts on “Covered in Ivy”

  1. I like gray and white – it’s such a classic look. I let ivy grow on the back outside wall of my garage and it looked so pretty, but when it got overgrown and I removed all of it, the brick wall was a mess, and I still see stains on it and the fascia which I can’t get off.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Have you tried power washing? That’s what our professional handyman is planning to do in a couple of week. Some scraping and sanding probably will be required, too, but that’s for wood walls, not brick.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No, and darn it, I just had a company here cleaning the deck and siding. I guess it’s not too bad now as I didn’t think of it, but it’s mostly under the fascia on the back of the garage, but they weren’t hired to do that part, just the side that was mildewed from so much rain, and their quote was expensive enough! $446 for one side of the house and front and back deck. It might be cheaper to buy my own power washer.


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