Sandy's Garden ... Ivy

Ivy grow in our garden.

By Sandy Simpson
Sunday, 9th January 2022, 1:01 pm
Updated Sunday, 9th January 2022, 2:57 pm

It’s not actually welcome there – indeed, were it to be assailed by some dread plant disease … exclusive to ivy … I’d be perfectly content to let the disease run its course and eliminate my unwanted lodger.

The ivy originally came from a neighbour’s garden – planted to grow on the fence dividing the two properties.

Neither the present owner of the property nor their immediate predecessor is or was much concerned by the ivy’s presence, adopting a ‘live and let live’ stance.

Falkirk Herald gardening guru Sandy Simpson

But I’d rather it didn’t invade my garden.

Ivy is very persistent and is not easy to eradicate by approved methods, so it grows in our garden and I keep it under strict control as best I can.

Ivy is also to be found on our house.

The tenure of this ivy, however, will come to an end within a matter of hours and will be accomplished easily and without any risk to any nearby plants.

This particular ivy is artificial and is part of a Christmas wreath attached by string to a suitable locating point near our front door.

Ivy was an integral part of pagan mid-winter celebrations millennia before Christianity ousted paganism in much of the world.

It was believed to have many beneficial characteristics.

The ancient Greek god Dionysus – the widely-influential god of wine, fertility, orchards, religious ecstasy, theatre and many other less important matters – is pictured wearing an ivy wreath.

Dionysus, who was often depicted in literature and art as being wreathed in ivy, used the plant to induce delirium in women who refused to worship him voluntarily. Once spellbound, the women were known as ‘the raving ones’ – not a bad description of people out of their tiny minds on booze rather than ivy.

Curiously, while alcohol inspired hot, short-term passions, ivy was seen as having an opposite effect. An evergreen plant … and, therefore, possessed of magic powers … its habit of thriving through the winter led to ivy being seen as epitomising endurance and to its being associated with profound and long-lasting thoughts; this, in turn, resulted in it being regarded as a symbol of faithfulness and linked to weddings, which is why some brides include a sprig of ivy in their bouquets to this very day.

But of much greater relevance to my personal position, I am indebted to the website of for this information: “In times past, ivy leaves were boiled and strained then used externally as an antiseptic wash for skin irritations and sores, and laid as a hot poultice to bring down swellings. Such a decoction, made very strong, could be used as a rinse to restore lustre and colour to dark hair.

A wine-induced hangover could be avoided by taking a handful of ivy leaves, crushing them and then slowly boiling them in wine and drinking the mixture.” As ever, I quote these words without in any way endorsing them; and I counsel you, gentle reader, not to investigate their veracity or falsity.

I shall assuredly take my own advice, despite the temptation to do otherwise with my swollen foot, colourless hair and liking for wine!