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Ivy is a plant I admire, one whose ecological value is apparent to me, a species without which the world would probably be a poorer place. And yet I can't bring myself to like it. The plant's tenacity, the way it comes back after being the recipient of axe, clippers, poison and much else, is awe inspiring. The way it manages to flourish in the most unpromising niche in woodland, waste land, the urban jungle and even the most manicured of gardens is, in its way, admirable. But still I don't like it.
I think my antipathy stems from the fact that sometimes it is just too successful. Not content with growing up the side of a tree it too often expands and tries to cover the whole of it, disfiguring the living giant with a mound of glossy greenery. In churchyards, it spreads horizontally and vertically, taking the sharp edges off everything as it throws a mat of leaves on gravestones, monuments, seats, trees and anything else that gets in its way. Once started it becomes a tide that can only be stopped by the most concerted effort. On buildings, what at first appears attractive soon turns to intrusive and even after removal it leaves unattractive marks where its stems have grown. I have sympathy with those who cut the stems at ground level and cause the green growth to slowly die, turn brown and eventually fall away.
On a recent walk I came across a tree with a trunk completely covered in ivy stems - not an inch of bark could be seen. Glossy leaves were flourishing in the canopy above but the trunk looked like it was wrapped in writhing snakes. With the exception, that is, of a couple of leaves that had made an optimistic appearance in the deep shade of the woodland floor.
photograph and text © Tony Boughen
Camera: Olympus E-M10
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 35mm (70mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/60 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On