December 3, 2014 CW wreathes 050


As our solar year near’s its end, and those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, at least, watch the life appear to drain out of our gardens, we also celebrate the tenacity of  life!

All “evergreen” plants shine during this passage of time.  They fade back into the landscape all summer long, barely noticed.

And then when the tree limbs are bare, and our lawns have faded to brown, “The Holly and the Ivy” glow green with vitality.


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This is another of the paperback mulberry trees found along the eastern end of Francis Street, near the Colonial Capitol building, on the edge of Colonial Williamsburg.  I always wonder how long these trees have grown here, and who originally planted them.


December 3, 2014 CW wreathes 052


It is far from politically correct these days to admit that you like ivy; or that you plant it yourself.

I’ve eavesdropped on a native plant enthusiast doing her best to dissuade a local nurseryman from even stocking the genus.  Yes, ivy can become invasive.  Yes, after many decades it can fairly well cover a mature tree.  Yes, it may crowd out other species.  But ivy has its gifts to give, too.



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Its first and most important gift, to me, is its beauty.  I love its lovely leaves and eager, delicate stems growing on through the coldest of winters.  It provides berries, when mature, enjoyed by birds.  It also provides important cover for birds and insects.


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Ivy is a useful shade tolerant ground cover which protects and holds the soil.  It is especially prized in areas which are hard to mow or too shady to support a lawn.

And it is gloriously alive and long lived.  Every little bit of it will send out roots and continue to grow.  Once established, it is there “forever.”


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Perhaps it is my own decade in life.  But my respect and love for my elders grows with each passing year.


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They have tenacity.  They have learned secrets of survival and endurance which I can only admire.

These elder trees must have some long and entertaining stories to tell, if only we could hear them.


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They have survived here for uncounted years.  And against all odds, they are still gloriously, vibrantly,  Alive! 

That is very comforting, somehow, in the middle of December.


Woodland Gnome 2014


Native Live Oak

Native Live Oak

About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

2 responses to “Alive!

  1. I, too, love ivy, it is a very useful plant (especially to a florist). But it can take over and will destroy the mortar on a brick building, but we still love it!!

    • We do, Eliza. I plant it as ground cover sometimes. Like so many things, you have to prune it and keep it in bounds. It takes many years of neglect for it to become a problem. We have to pull it off of our house a few times each season. But it is persistent 😉 Hope you’ve enjoyed the weekend 🙂

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