It gets a really bad press, ivy, and yet it is a really, really important plant for wildlife and especially our pollinators.

Ivy (Hedera helix) a clambering climber that clings to walls, fences and tree trunks with woody feelers that grab hold of the surface. It’s been blamed for felling trees, collapsing walls and destroying buildings. And to be fair it is usually present, when these things occur but it is often not the cause. A strong ivy can overwhelm a weak, aging tree and bring it down before its allotted time, but if the tree was strong and healthy the two would have lived in harmony for many more years. The ivy simply uses the tree as a support to reach the light. Crumbling mortar between bricks and stones on walls and buildings can provide the perfect hold for the clambering plant. Its weight might well bring the structure to collapse, but when the wall is in good condition, the layer of ivy will insulate and protect the wall from damage.

The flowers emerge in September when there is little else in flower and attract a wide variety of pollinators to feed on its pollen and nectar. There is even an Ivy bee (Colletes hedera) that feeds almost exclusively on its flowers. Without ivy this species of mining, solitary bees cannot exist.

Let it grow and let it flower where ever you can. It’s lush foliage is a beautiful backdrop for the garden. It’s thick layer provides safe roosting and nesting sites for small birds and especially sparrows. It insulates buildings and it supports a huge range of insects and other beneficial creatures.

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