More warnings about ivy — but not for here

Janice Wells
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One of the downsides in getting email response to a column is that you usually can’t tell where the writer is located.

I assume that most, if not all, gardeners who write me at are from this province, and often the writer supplies the information in the body of the email. It’s nice to know, because of course location can change the whole face of a gardening issue.

I also get messages from The Telegram that start “A webuser sent you a comment,” forwarding a comment from someone who has gotten their Gin & Tonic from reading The Telegram online. The first time I saw webuser, it took me a moment to process “web user” instead of we buser, but that’s just because I’m an online Luddite; I haven’t responded to these because I just found out how to do it.

Yvonne Deaton posted about growing things on rocks:

“That is so beautiful. I've heard of people doing this but I've never tried it. My daughter has some rock gardens and they are pretty, too. I will have to try this. Thank you for posting these pictures.”

Sometimes there isn’t even a name. “Bayman” wrote quite a while back re a heading “Gin & Tonic Gardner:” “Lovely garden Janet, Does the Book of Musts include spelling … it should. Gardener surely.”

A goof obviously occurred at The Telegram; I know how to spell gardener as well as I know how to spell my own name.

Every now and then, one of these comments will come from a magazine editor in the States. Now, it’s not that I think it impossible that some American magazine editors faithfully follow The G&T Gardener (after all, the book did get terrific reviews in The Los Angeles Times and The Boston Globe), but it’s just as likely that special interest magazines have some sort of search service that brings mention of their particular interest to their attention.

The most recent one was in response to the column about the poisonous quality of some ivies and simply said, “For the sake of your cat and the ecosystem, get rid of your ivy,” and included a website:

On the website I read the following; “If you’re a homeowner, you REALLY do not want this plant climbing up your walls. The rootlets will burrow into masonry, eventually weakening them to the point of collapse. On wooden siding the dense cover retains moisture, which causes fungus and decay, while the rootlets pry apart siding and eventually rip your outer walls apart.

“As a ground cover, the quick growth and dense cover shade out native plants and suppress their growth. In tree canopies, the enormous weight of the Ivy will eventually topple each tree. The rootlets burrow under the bark, causing fungus and decay while creating opportunities for disease to enter.

“English Ivy is dangerous because it can spread very quickly through native woodlands, both by its creeping runners, and seed dispersal by birds who eat the berries. As it spreads, native species are lost and biodiversity is reduced until we are left with a very simplified ecosystem or monoculture that is unable to perform all ecosystem services which are essential to wildlife and human survival.”

The writer is based out of Philadelphia, a gardening Zone 6b.

I appreciated the interest and I’m inclined to agree about not wanting it climbing up my clapboard or siding, but there’s no doubt in my mind that English Ivy is not nearly as invasive here as it is in some other places. I’ve never seen any growing in our native woodlands, but please correct me if I’m wrong.

We should be informed when introducing new plants to our province, but plants that are invasive in some climates will never be so in others.

The website above includes buddleia (butterfly bush) in its Most Hated Plants list because it is destroying native habitats; the sale of it is actually banned in Oregon. Global warming notwithstanding, I have a hard time imagining butterfly bush ever getting out of control in gardens here, let alone in the wild.

But you know what they say: never say never. So, buyer beware.

Janice Wells lives in St. John’s. Her latest book, “Newfoundland and Labrador Book of Musts,” was published in October 2010 by MacIntyre Purcell Publishing Inc. You can reach her at Note to readers: please do not send thumbnail-size photographs, as they are too small to publish.

Organizations: The Telegram, The Boston Globe, MacIntyre Purcell Publishing

Geographic location: Philadelphia, Oregon

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