Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – English Ivy

Can you see the house through the ivy-the outline of the chimney? To say the old house has almost been taken over by ivy is an understatement. The house is barely visible at all, just a giant lump of green. Here in the south it’s usually kudzu that takes over, but english ivy can too.

I have english ivy growing on a bank here. When I first planted it was just sprigs sticking out along a red clay bank. Can’t remember who, but someone told me I’d be sorry when it took over my house and started growing straight through the walls and up through the roof. In defiance I thought “No ivy is going to outdo me.”

That was years ago. Each summer I watch as the ivy does indeed march ever closer to my house. So far I’ve kept it at bay, but sometimes I wonder when I’m gone from this world will it finally eat my house?


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    August 16, 2011 at 9:50 am

    No kudzu here on the farm, but not far from here it grows rampant.
    I’ve planted English ivy here before and it always dies. Could be for the same reason I have such a hard time growing a garden here.

  • Reply
    Penney Rose
    July 29, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    My son and I call it “the devil’s weed”
    I made the mistake of planting ivy a few years ago. It took over
    my front yard and was headed up the mountain from the back yard. I tried for years to try and pull it up but I wasn’t strong enough. Finally paid my nephew to pull it up but it still tries to come back. I will be pulling up stray vines for years to come
    P Rose

  • Reply
    July 29, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Not much ivy here, maybe too much sand, but the kudzu is terrible. For those not on the southeastern coast of the states, long ago a horticulturist saw kudzu someplace or other and thought it would just be wonderful at stopping erosion on the coasts of the southern states.
    Bad move, cause now it’s almost swallowed up the coasts of the southern states and has marched right in to take over many areas of the entire state.
    It’s an ugly pernicious things that deer and goats won’t even eat, and if they won’t eat it, I don’t know how we’ll ever get rid of it.
    You’d think we’d learn at some point that God puts things where He KNOWS they need to be and would quit trying to alter His plan by moving things elsewhere.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    July 29, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    I’ve seen houses and trees taken over by ivy. Here in the PNW it takes over rather quickly, not a nice plant. It has it’s uses though but not in our area, although it is still sold as a ground cover. Should call it an enveloper.

  • Reply
    trisha too
    July 29, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    The answer is yes!

  • Reply
    July 29, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    My mother has a fence completely covered in ivy. I’d like to chop it down but can’t decide if it’s pulling the fence down or holding it up!

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    July 29, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    There is a saying about ivy; “The first year it sleeps,the second year it creeps and the third year it leaps!” We have it out back of our house and it is a constant fight keeping it at bay. I think I am fighting a losing battle! I know some morning I’ll open the door and will not be able to get out because it took over during the night! I don’t think anything short of a nuclear bomb will kill this stuff!

  • Reply
    July 29, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    We have morning glories that absolutely drive me crazy. It takes over my flower beds and my berry vines. I pull, pull, pull – but it keeps coming back.

  • Reply
    July 29, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    At a previous home I had both english ivy and virginia creeper. I had to cut the runners of ivy reaching up the tree trunks a couple of times a season. The creeper was pretty well behaved and made a plain board fence a real thing of beauty every fall with its crimson leaves and purple berries.
    Here in Ohio, kudzu is viewed as something of a mythological monster, lol! We hear that it grows several feet in a day? How do you keep it out of your gardens?
    Your pictures are beautiful as always, and I especially like the ones with Pap’s hands. What a treasure you have in him, with all his accumulated wisdom to share!

  • Reply
    July 29, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Oh yes we have Ivy! It’s so pretty how it spills over the trees and things… has completely covered the little well house out behind our house. once it started to come in to our living room through the wall! I love it.

  • Reply
    Mama Crow
    July 29, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Yes, we have kudsu on our creek, but no ivy. The kudsu, used to grow mostly up the road a piece at the rock crusher, but with time it’s found it’s way down the road, and along the creek to within 50 feet of the driveway, but that was the estimated distance on Monday. It being Friday now, it’s probably already across the footlog. Mama Crow

  • Reply
    s kalvaitis
    July 29, 2011 at 10:48 am

    I bought a house in East TN and was delighted with the Kudzu and the English ivy. 3 years later I am holding my head in my hands. If you don’t spray it weekly the Kudzu will grow thru the window and tie you to your bed and the English ivy will choak your trees to death. Weed killer from the co-op seems to make it mad at me. Time spent trying to kill it should be better spent trying to grow flowers and herbs.

  • Reply
    Rooney Floyd
    July 29, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Don’t forget wisteria.

  • Reply
    July 29, 2011 at 10:37 am

    I have a constant battle with that
    ole kudzu climbing from the creek
    across my yard. Sometimes I spray
    it back from my lawn, but within
    two months the battle is on again.
    A goat will keep it at bay as one
    of the commenters said ‘they’ll eat anything’. And our power plant
    at Nantahala use to have the concrete building camoflauged by
    kudzu. I always thought that was
    pretty neat. If you can stand it
    on your house it’ll sure keep it
    cool. I usually burn it back in
    late fall after the frost does its

  • Reply
    Canned Quilter
    July 29, 2011 at 9:39 am

    I restrict my English Ivy to one clay pot upstairs in the den window : )

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    July 29, 2011 at 9:24 am

    I had ivy at a previous house, and although I loved it, it was a battle keeping it under control. When we moved here I thought it best not to bring any cuttings along … ha!

  • Reply
    July 29, 2011 at 9:02 am

    I’ve planted ivy in three different places at my house & it all died. Two of them lived a few years then just didn’t come back one summer. The third never took off. I’d love to have something for my bank, it’s really grown up since I’ve stopped mowing it.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    July 29, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Tipper–It isn’t quite the plague that kudzu is, but English ivy will take the place given half a chance. A good example is the lot adjacent to where Don and I grew up. The folks who lived there when we were youngsters had planted it along a path which led from the street below up to their house. In the intervening half century plus, the path has grown over and the English ivy is choking trees which are probably a 100 years old. It will take a major effort–and I’m talking scores of man hours or a scorched earth, kill everthing, Agent Orange type of attack if it is to be brought under control.
    We had some of it on the place where we live when we bought it, but after perhaps a decade of fighting it I think I’ve gotten rid of the pestilential stuff.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    July 29, 2011 at 8:40 am

    Here in Florida, kudzu is rampant. It takes over and nothing seems to kill it. I much prefer English Ivy.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    July 29, 2011 at 8:10 am

    Years ago I planted English Ivy on a drive-way to our basement that was lined with a cracking old bare cinder block wall about 4 to 12 tall…In my minds eye I thought English Ivy was beautiful..
    After all, the lady I got it from had it growing up an old rock wall on a glassed in greenhouse sundeck and it was beautiful…and
    The Halls of Ivy at colleges I had visited were beautiful…and
    in the old cities and towns with old rock and brick vintage homes the ivy on them was beautiful…
    The tree trunks that were green with ivy along old boulervards were to me as a girl beautiful..
    I don’t even want to get started on how it has invaded our place…
    I don’t know how to kill it..
    Biggest transplanting mistake we
    or really I ever made..It just sat there so innocent for years..
    I have my own Little Shop (House) of Horrors so to speak! Help!
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    July 29, 2011 at 7:58 am

    While it is a pretty plant, i do not have any. Since I was allergic to posion ivy, my mama always told me I’d get it from English Ivy too, so I have steered clear of it (don’t really know if that is true or not).

  • Reply
    Barbara Gantt
    July 29, 2011 at 7:56 am

    I love English Ivy too. I brought a cutting from my Aunts house in Lenoir, NC to Vermont. She has gone on to Heavenb so it reminds us of her. We grew it and cut some to use when my DD was married. We planted it on the edge of our yard. So far so good in keeping it there. Barbara

  • Reply
    B f
    July 29, 2011 at 7:56 am

    ivy can take over ,i made that mistake years ago and now i,m paying for it , it cannot be controlled but is nice in a pot , i only wish i,d gone that way but………….
    will a weed killer get rid of it?
    also not far from my house is kudzo growing fast and furious , so far i havent got that

  • Reply
    Debby Brown
    July 29, 2011 at 7:50 am

    I used to have a small patch of the ivy.. now with no trees, its growing REALLY good and headed for the house. Wouldn’t it be funny, if the house that was spared by 20 huge falling Oaks, ends up coming down from an attack of house eating ivy?! haha!

  • Reply
    Melissa P (misplaced Southerner)
    July 29, 2011 at 7:42 am

    We have english ivy. It’s welcome in the areas where it currently is; however, we’re going to have to keep a close eye on it. The Virginia creeper is actually the vine that seems to be more omnipresent up here. I still get amazed when people mistake it for “ivy.” They ask if I’m not affected by it. I chuckle and say, “Uh, no. Doesn’t bother me.” Then I get to hear all their poison ivy stories.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    July 29, 2011 at 7:39 am

    I did not realize English Ivy spread so much in the NC area. I’ve planted some to keep a bank from eroding, guess I better pull it out!!

  • Reply
    Wayne Newton
    July 29, 2011 at 7:37 am

    Tipper, In Wiregrass Country, the only permanent control for kudzu is a herd of goats. Just plain old, eat anything, goats.
    The city of Tallahassee, FL used them for years as a control for the ubiquitous pest.
    I haven’t heard of any trial with goats for English Ivy. Perhaps you might want to try.

  • Reply
    Donna W
    July 29, 2011 at 7:19 am

    No, but I’ve had dire warnings about the trumpet vine I planted three years ago for the hummingbirds to enjoy; and since I planted them, I have noticed houses in town being devoured by trumpet vines. My Jersey cow has an appetite for the plant, so if it gets out of hand, I’ll turn her loose on it.

  • Reply
    Gary Powell
    July 29, 2011 at 7:16 am

    We have ivy. I am careful not to let it start up the house. It is taking over some of the small bushes in the yard. It was here when we bought our house. I would never plant it and I use a weedeater on it every time I mow. It is very agressive!

  • Reply
    Dee from Tennessee
    July 29, 2011 at 4:10 am

    I LOVE English Ivy…husband does not share in the love. He routinely pulls it up in the front yard but I have a very pretty pot of it, settled in a wrought-iron holder , growing on the backporch where I can see it every day when I step outside to collect the mail (our mailbox is on the backporch..neat!). I am careful not to let those tendrils touch the ground though….LOL

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