Hedera algeriensis ‘Striata’
Does the word “ivy” make you wince?
If so, it may be because you are thinking about the English ivies — Hedera helix ‘Baltica’, ‘Pittsburg’, ‘Wahington’ and ‘Star’ — or Irish ivy (Hedera hibernica). All are considered invasive and all have been placed 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 recommend, but not required in King County. It’s no longer for sale in nurseries or used as a landscape plant.
Of course, some homeowners have inherited an established mass of this nearly indestructible green carpet. Some of them cut it to back to the woody stems each year to keep it under control and enjoy its glossy evergreen appearance where nothing else will thrive. But most gardeners find themselves exasperated with English ivy that has taken over flower beds, grown up the trunks of trees, or covered fences and walls. Once its root system is entangled with other plants or a rockery, your only choice is a regular management regime to keep it at bay. That’s not much of a consolation for those who want it gone.
Meet the good ivies
Hedera helix ‘Cristata Curlilocks’
Stigma and guilt-by-association have ruined the reputation of the entire ivy species. However, there are some ivies that can be charming accents — creeping over the edge of a pot or adding a fine-textured, ground-hugging evergreen element to an ornamental garden. These “good” varieties grow slowly and won’t get away from you.
I recommend trying the crinkly dark green leaves of Hedera helix ‘Cristata Curlilocks’ in pots where it can curl over the rim. Fine-textured Hedera helix ‘Mona Lisa’ adds a colorful evergreen mat at the base of a rock during winter. A better-mannered cousin of English ivy is the Algerian ivy Hedera algeriensis. Hedera algeriensis ‘Striata’ sports exotic-looking leaves marked with lighter green and golden-green variations. Originally native to central Algeria and Tunisia, where it grows vigorously, Algerian Ivy grows slowly and is easily contained in the climate of the Pacific Northwest. It does best in part sun with shelter from wind and freezing temperatures. Like all ivies, it likes regular water and rich soil.
To learn more about garden planning, landscape design, and the best plants for your landscape, please contact us.
Gardening in small spaces?
Living with small outdoor spaces is becoming more and more common and designing for them is getting more and more attention from the landscaping industry. At the recent Northwest Green Conference small gardens were a hot topic.
Rest assured that even if your space is limited, a dynamic garden is still possible. In fact, small garden spaces offer great opportunities. (See my landscape design galleries for some examples.)
The keys to success for small gardens are creating visual spaciousness and engaging all the senses.
Here are just a few of the tricks I have learned after many years of designing small gardens:
- Create balance and contrast. Select appropriate hard surfaces, then use lush plantings to add a sense of abundance.
- Connect distinctive areas. Create a theme that connects the contrasting elements in your garden. This can be done with color, repetition or garden art. Carefully placed mirrors can add dimension and depth in dark shaded locations. A simple water feature will provide another sensory experience and create a feeling of relaxation.
- Think big; free yourself from limitations. Lofty, transparent plants and open trelliswork and arbors increase vertical interest. Take advantage of different elevations: plants spilling over low walls or vines climbing up a backdrop add another dimension. Open areas keep the garden from feeling cramped
- Create a small pathway. Use strategically placed stepping-stones, shiny pebbles or glass to represent an invitation for entry.
- As you plan, keep in mind how you want to use your small garden. Is it a courtyard to pass through? Is it mostly viewed from indoors? Or is it going to be an outdoor room large enough for a couple of comfortable chairs or a barbecue and a small table?
- Choose plantings that won’t overwhelm the space. Use slow-growing plants and select plants with contrasting leave textures and colors. Choose plants that can be cut back and will come back the next season, fresh and lovely. To create a sense of softness, use low ground covers.
- Update and refine your design with annuals. Annuals are a great way to add color, keep things changing, and fill tiny spaces for an overflowing, abundant presentation.
We provide garden planning and landscape renovation for gardens of all sizes — from tiny urban gardens to new construction and established estate gardens.
Are you ready to remove the guesswork and increase your success rate with your plantings and garden features? Contact us to learn more about garden planning, landscape design, and gardens in small spaces.
We’d love to help!