I enjoy pretty much everything there is that has to do with the outdoors. Some of my most peaceful moments have been while walking through the forest, sitting on a beach, or boating (minus the loud engine). Accordingly I have a great respect for nature and enjoy learning about the plants and wildlife therein. My plan is to continue that learning process and hopefully enhance it by sharing what I learn. I intend for this blog to serve many purposes, but in the immediate future it will be a place for me, and hopefully others, to share ideas about reducing our individual impact on this planet, protecting wild spaces, and in general just to comment on the things we enjoy most in the great outdoors. I welcome all opinions as otherwise you cannot consider every aspect of a subject. However, I would ask that every opinion be expressed in a respectful way and considered with an open mind. Often there is no single right answer. Thanks.

Monday, January 24, 2011

You want to what?!?

A friend of mine was walking through Mt. Doug Park the other day with her mother, who is a lovely woman, and commented on the ivy infestation in one area of the park.  Her mother lamented that she had been trying to get some ivy to grow on her property, but it just was not taking.  Yikes!

I can see the draw of ivy for people who are looking for a lush, evergreen groundcover.  Especially one that expands its area of coverage rapidly.  However, with ivy I think you get a little more than you bargain for.  Unless you are planning to strictly maintain the area that your ivy lives in - look out!  Here is a picture I took today walking through one area of Mt. Doug Park.  The ivy extends as far as the eye can see, crawling over, and up, anything in its path.

I did a google search for invasive species and the top result was the Invasive Plant Council of BC.  Here is a quote from their website:  

 "As native plant communities are replaced by invasive plant infestations, biodiversity declines and habitats change. These impacts are often irreversible and restoration can be extremely difficult, if not impossible; therefore, preventing their establishment and spread is key!"

I would encourage anyone who is looking for an evergreen groundcover to consider native plant options first.  There are many to choose from and it does not take much research to find the right one to fit your existing soil and sun/shade parameters.  Here are a couple of options:

Oregon Grape

This is one type of Oregon Grape.  It is low to the ground, evergreen, has small yellow flowers in the spring and edible, albeit tart, berries in the summer.  This plant likes dry to fairly moist soils and prefers shade to partial shade.

Salal is also an evergreen, creeping plant that is very common in coniferous forests.  It has small white/pinkish flowers blooming from May to July which yield to dark, juicy, edible berries.  It prefers moist, shady areas.

In addition to the plants pictured above there are many varieties of ferns, and other evergreen groundcover that fit different light and soil requirements.  I have been incorporating native plants into my garden for the last couple of years and I have also introduced more native plants into the courtyard garden at my childrens' school.  I have purchased most of my plants from the Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary at their semi-annual plant sale.  If you check out their website they have a great section about native plant gardening and they also offer workshops on the subject in conjunction with the CRD Water Department.  I also found a website by Russell Nursery that has a section on native plants with information about size, light requirements, and soil preferences.

I must say that learning about native plants and incorporating them into my garden is one of my favourite things.  In fact, if it helps, I would even offer to help plan, and plant my friends' mom's garden to keep her from planting ivy :)

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