Ivy or Not Ivy

Ivy (Hedera helix,) an evergreen climbing plant, is a common sight in woods and on trees across Britain
It’s an important plant for wildlife, providing shelter, berries and nectar at times of the year when these are scarce. 

The first growth phase, as ivy climbs from ground level, into the tree

The second phase of ivy growth, with an oval shaped leaf

The plant spreads across the ground until it finds a tree to climb, then using micro-rootlets to grip the trunk, climbs the trees. The ivy changes its leaf shape once it has climbed the tree, from a palmate (pointed, star-shaped) leaf to an elliptical shape. Only after this will it flower and have berries. 

Ivy has been unpopular amongst foresters for many generations, their view being test iT world stamp and kill trees. In fact ivy would rarely swamp a healthy tree. 
In the modern age it has been suggested that mild winters have made ivy more vigorous. Ivy also poses a threat to trees by acting as a wind-catcher during winter storms, increasing the likelihood of the trees being blown over. 

It looks like ivy will be controversial for years to come. 


Garlic Mustard 

Right now there’s still time to take advantage of one of the easiest wild foods to use. 

Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is abundant on verges, path edges and in the foot of hedgerows. As it’s name suggests, it’s related to mustard but the leaves taste deliciously of garlic. 

It can be added to salads or used as an ingredient in hot dishes; and is a great way to show off your foraging skills to those who don’t think they would enjoy wild leaves. It can also liven up a meal if you’re already out camping this spring. 

Is it worth ploughing every inch ?

This afternoon I took a walk on the paths around my village. One of the most popular paths follows a field edge where winter wheat was sown last autumn. 

The corner nearest the gate is a waste of space for the farmer. So much of the corner is bare ground, the corn having not survived the muddiness and trampling of feet over winter. Along the edge of the field three paths have formed through the young crop.

Was it worth cultivating this corner and spending money on seed that will never grow?Was there any point in ploughing right to the edge of the field and not sparing the path, leaving walkers to beat it hard with the action of their winter boots ?(and not all taking the same line )

The crop looks very sad along this field edge and I think the farmer could have saved himself some money and given a little more room for wildlife if he hadn’t decided to plough every available inch.