It not only choked out all the native plants that the bugs and the birds need to live, but it climbed the trees, eventually killing them by smothering the leaves or by making them so top-heavy that they broke. It was pretty dispiriting to watch the stuff spread deeper and deeper into the my woods knowing that in ten or twenty years or so, there would be no native forest floor.
|Even the fallen leaves don't stop English Ivy.|
What made it worse was that another beautiful invader, Norway Maple was crowding and shading out our native trees. We were headed for a forest that was totally lovely, completely green and thoroughly sterile.
Since none of our native bugs and worms lives on and around the new species, it wouldn't be long before the birds that live off of them would stop visiting. We're losing wildlife habitat to development all the time, how much more bitter to have forest that looks like habitat but isn't.
Then about three years ago, somebody started to pull the stuff up. Every time there was a heavy rain or a melt after a snowstorm, I'd see piles of stringy little ivy corpses piled up just off the paths in the woods. This public-service gardener picked one area to make ivy-free and steadily expanded it. I used to smile at the earnest naivete of the person who thought her hands would make a difference against this green biotsunami, but it was nice that someone took arms against a sea of tendrils.
But two years ago in spring, the cowslips came back where the ivy had been. A few young trees, poplars and cherry mostly, started to pop up. That summer there were butterflies the Azures that lived on the cherries and then we saw robins scrounging for worms.
This week, after a long rainy spring, there were wood violets just inside the entrance. Wood violets!
There's one patch in the lower right of the photo, but there were dozens more and lots of individual plants scattered where the ivy had been. A person could get sloppy with the metaphors and we have enough allegories available to make Dante sigh, but that would be too easy. It's shirtsleeve weather, there are deep purple flowers underfoot and for the moment at least, we won.