LETTER OF THE WEEK: About Ivy, it’s time to stop clinging to bad ideas.

Wayne Fenley wants people to think before they cut back ivy from trees.

Wayne Fenley wants people to think before they cut back ivy from trees. - Credit: Archant

Like many readers due to the covid 19 restrictions I have used the opportunity to explore my local countryside.

One thing has struck me on my walks and cycle rides along some of the many rural footpaths and byways, there still exists bucolic beauty within our village boundaries. Here one can imagine a picture of England’s past Arcadia, where thicker larger sheltering hedges bound a mixture of seemingly forgotten meadows, tranquil unkept paddocks, old gardens and of course our beautiful ancient churchyards.

Most of our ancient trees now only occur in these nature rich enclaves of human habitation, so starkly different to the almost lifeless agricultural landscapes beyond.

Sadly even within village enclaves there is prejudice against nature, the needless practice of severing Ivy growth in old trees. Those responsible almost always lack the commitment or skill to complete their deed leaving behind the bulk of the cut dead Ivy clinging unsightly in the tree.

I’m sure they cut the Ivy not out of malice but because they believe they are doing so in the trees interest, or even the tree would look much tidier without its companion.

Research, however, suggests our native Ivy (Hedera helix) does not impair or reduce the lifespan of ancient trees, Ivy roots in search for sustenance only extend out a fraction of the trees and they certainly do not not strangle the tree, they just climb it. Old Ivy growth is very important in bio diversity, enriching an ancient tree considerably for nature, providing shelter, winter greenery and food for myriad of creatures.

Arguably with consideration, tree and Ivy is a partnership aesthetically more beautiful and mysterious.

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In my photo taken along the picturesque Church Lane at Stow Longa is an example of an enormous Ivy log cut from growth on a large ancient Ash tree. Both the tree and Ivy had clearly thrived together without any problem for a considerable amount of time. Who wouldn’t agree, the Ivy was a splendid living organism equal to the tree it clung to. I appeal to all land managers and custodians of land lucky enough to have ancient trees with Ivy to look again and consider favourably what is a perfectly natural partnership of Ivy and tree.

Wayne Fendley

Stukeley Meadows