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can grow, spread and flourish under many conditions; cultivated land and wasteland, in light or near darkness, fertile soil or upon rubble and stones. It will push its way through tiny cracks and crevices to reach the light and is strong and difficult to destroy. Be aware that trees may need protecting from a particularly virilent stand - a member of the Ginseng family, the Ivy can grow in such profusion upon its host that the tree smothers and dies.
ACOMMON PLANT, THE evergreen leaves of the climbing ivy are a welcome sight among the bare deciduous trees of winter. Ivy is a climbing plant that stays evergreen throughout the year. It can tolerate conditions that many can't - scrambling in dark corners up ruined walls and filling forgotten, unwanted spaces. It is the eleventh tree of the Celtic Tree Ogham, the time when the green life-force of nature is on the retreat, from 30 Sept to 27 Oct. The plant is said to have powers for healing, protection and friendship. It looks to others for its support, interweaving and making stronger connections as it grows, giving strength and protection in return.
BEAUTY SECRETS Ivy is known to be slightly toxic if taken internally, it is bitter, unpleasant to taste and highly likely to cause stomach upsets. In times past, ivy leaves were boiled and strained then used externally as an antiseptic wash for skin irritations and sores, and laId as
ʻHoney bees rely upon ivy for the majority of the pollen and nectar they collect during the autumn monthsʼ
WILDLIFE HAVEN If allowed to cover a garden wall, fence or an old tree stump, the ivy flowers in early Autumn will attract myriads of butterflies and insects with their sweet nectar. One of the last plants to flower in autumn, its greenish flowers appear on short, vertical, shrubby branches and are a magnet for bees. In fact, honey bees rely upon ivy for the majority of the pollen and nectar they collect during the autumn months, a crucial time when the insects are trying to build up stores for the winter and feed their young. Then, during the winter, the berries it produces can provide food for birds and it is used for shelter by hibernating animals. Ivy a hot poultice to bring down swellings. In addition, such a decoction, made very strong could be used as a rinse to restore lustre and colour to dark hair.
LOVE POTION The Druids considered it to be sacred, and a feminine counterpart to the masculine holly. When placed together, either growing or as decoration, the two plants together gave great protection as well as balance and wisdom. Bind together a twig of ivy (female) and a twig of holly (male) with red wool, ribbon or thread to make a love talisman which will bring fidelity and good luck. This also makes a sweet present for a wedding.
OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019 thegreenparent.co.uk