Got Ivy?

If you’re not a fan of ivy, you’re not the only one. When you think of this particular plant you are probably conjuring up images of either English ivy — such as Hedera helix “‘Baltica’,” “‘Pittsburg’,” “‘Wahington’,” “‘Star’” varieties — or Irish ivy (Hedera hibernica). All of these invasive ivies, however, can be found on King County’s list of noxious weeds. English ivy is categorized as a non-regulated Class B and C noxious weed, meaning control is recommended, but not required in King County where it is no longer sold in nurseries.

Some gardeners that have inherited an established mass of this nearly indestructible evergreen carpet, find themselves exasperated with ivy that has taken over flower beds, grown up the trunks of trees, or covered fences and walls. Regular shearing will keep it looking tidy, but that’s not much of a consolation for those who just want it gone.

Good Ivy

Stigma and guilt by association have ruined the reputation of the entire genus of ivy (Hedera). While the ivy you may be thinking of is known for its worst traits, there are, however, some varieties of ivy that can be charming accents when creeping over the edge of a pot or as a fine-textured, ground-hugging evergreen element among other plants. These well-mannered “good” varieties are easy to grow like their invasive cousins, but they don’t take over.

Hedera helix ‘Cristata’

I recommend trying the crinkly dark green leaves of Hedera helix “‘Cristata’” (Parsley Crested Ivy) in pots where it can curl over the rim. The fine-textured “‘Mona Lisa’” variety will add a colorful evergreen mat at the base of a rock or tree in a shade garden. Hedera algeriensis “‘Gloire de Marengo'” (Variegated Algerian Ivy) sports exotic-looking leaves marked with lighter green and white variations. Originally native to central Algeria and Tunisia, where it grows vigorously, Algerian Ivy, also called Canary Island Ivy, grows slowly in the cooler climate of the Maritime Pacific Northwest. It thrives in part sun and needs shelter from wind and freezing temperatures in order to thrive. Like all ivies, it prefers regular water and rich soil.

If you’re looking for more ideas, please contact us for a design consultation to learn more about landscape design and how to maximize the impact of the plant combinations in your garden.

Hillside Hideaway, Seattle WA

The owner of this Seattle home, a garden enthusiast, wanted to upgrade the landscaping and asked me to come up with a plan.

The sloped lot on a wooded hillside provided both opportunities and challenges. I created a series of terraces along the side of the house transforming an awkward slope into a place for a new patio and plantings. The terraces function as a series of connected garden rooms that flow together, making it easy to move about the site.

On the home’s entry level, we enlarged the main patio using architectural slabs that reflect the clean lines of the house and blend seamlessly with the existing concrete. Stepable groundcover adds visual interest and natural stone risers provide a graceful transition to the woodland garden beyond. The natural flagstone patio underfoot, lush plantings and mature trees overhead, gives one the feeling they have been transported far from the city. Beyond the woodland, visible from the patio during summertime, organic juniper timbers border a collection of shade-loving perennials evergreens. A combination of native, woodland and ornamental plants keeps the palette interesting.

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Ballard Neighborhood, Seattle WA

A lovingly restored Ballard bungalow deserves a fitting garden. The owner, a master gardener, loves plants and hired me to create a comprehensive plan to solve problems like screening the apartment house next door. The pathway is made of repurposed brick from the original chimney and recycled stepping stones add to the relaxed air. I focused on plants that create structure and continuity with emphasis on seasonal focal points. The result: there is always something interesting popping up or coming into bloom.

In the backyard, the dappled shade below a canopy of mature trees is ideal for the lively palette of this shade garden. Broadleaf shrubs and japanese maples provide structure and perennials create a lush spot for cool summertime dining or a weekend garden party. The owner has a flair for creating a casual vibe with repurposed items like a wooden dining set that has taken on a rustic patina adding to the organic feel of this garden.

Financial Center – Credit Union Headquarters, Seattle WA

The client purchased the building for its headquarters intending to renovate inside and out. The exterior landscape was outdated and overgrown and needed to reflect the modern, fresh image of its new owner. After exploring some preliminary design concepts with the client, in concert with the project architect and interior designer, a plan for a pedestrian courtyard was born. The new landscape includes usable outdoor space for the building’s inhabitants and fosters a sense of community. Plantings include Salal (Gaultheria shallon) and other Pacific Northwest native plants that reflect the company’s branding and local roots. Large boulders and the simplicity of mostly green foliage ground the structure and support its clean lines, giving it new relevance. Permeable pavers meet current storm water codes and reflect the grid pattern on the building while designating the plaza as separate from the surrounding sidewalks.

Look For Winter Blooming Perennials Now!

Lenten Rose, Snow Drops and Cyclamen are flowering now. It is a good time to think about adding these to your garden for next year.

It is also a good time for a stroll through The Washing Park Arboretum, Kubota Gardens and other local parks and botanical gardens to see what is blooming now.  You will notice other plants and trees that stand out.  Many extraordinary and colorful  varieties of conifers and deciduous trees with intriguing bark are striking during the winter months.

Enjoy the view and fresh air or take notes and pictures if you are looking to update your garden and make it more “winter friendly”.

Back home, look at your own garden and decide what adjustments would make a show at this time next year.  If you are getting ideas for a new garden or major renovation, a garden designer will help you to select the right plants and incorporate the best choices into a comprehensive plan for your site.

Whether you need help with plant selection or a comprehensive landscape plan, I tailor my services to you project and lifestyle.  Contact me if now you are looking to make changes to your garden in 2015.

Heleborus niger 'HGC Jacob'

Mercer Island, WA

Curb appeal. Native plants and ornamentals, pop under a canopy of mature Douglas Fir.

Queen Anne Hill, Seattle

Contrast of modern clean lines and an Asian-inspired garden.  Seattle Landscape Design