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competition for ground ivy

I have a large area at the bottom of my garden that consists of 4 large oaks and a load of ground ivy.  It's wild and unkempt and at the back we have brambles and nettles.  I'm quite happy to leave it generally wild, but there are large open areas that are just covered with ivy.  I would like to plant something in there that would give the ivy a run for its money.  I don't particularly want to kill it, or dig it all up but would like something slightly thuggish that would hold it's own and spread.  Hopefully something to brighten up the area a bit.  It's semi shade and has open areas to the south west and north which let in some good light. The soil is poorish due to the established oaks. I was thinking of something like japanese anenomes or shasta daisies.  Does anyone have any ideas? 


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 85,981
    edited November 2020
    Common names cause so much confusion ... are we talking about the perennial commonly called 'Ground Ivy', Glechoma hederacea L. (Nepeta glechoma, N. hederacea) with pretty little blue flowers so loved by bees, or Hedera helix ... Common English Ivy ... which happens to be growing along the ground?

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Pretty sure it's hedera helix.  Haven't seen any flowers.  Very common dark green leaves.  
  • Just checked.  Definitely Hedera helix
  • You could try some of the Lamiums. I have Lamiastrum galeobdolon variegata (formerly Lamium galeobdolon variegata) which has small yellow flowers and silvery marked leaves that would contrast well with the ivy, Definitely on the thuggish side so should hold its own, but not too hard to pull up if it oversteps the mark. There are other Lamiums with purple, pink or white flowers you could add to the mix.
    These would grow easily in the conditions you describe amd look appropriate, but other plants would be likely to need some improved soil and help to get established if they are to cope at all with the competition and could look rather out of place.
  • Thanks for that idea.  I should have added that if something needs some help to get established that's fine.  I can easily dig a good planting hole with compost and extra soil to help them start.  I'm just worried that some might get overrun by the ivy. 
  • punkdocpunkdoc Posts: 14,328
    I think you will need to remove some of the Ivy, so whatever you plant can get a good start. I have managed to that in an are of Beech woodland.
    How can you lie there and think of England
    When you don't even know who's in the team

    S.Yorkshire/Derbyshire border
  • @punkdoc. What did you plant there where you’d removed the ivy? How easy is it to dig up? It seems to have a real network of roots underground. 
  • There are some beautiful ferns around and many keep their fronds all year. Beautiful to see them as the fronds develop.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,916
    I'd agree with @punkdoc. Remove as much as you can.
    Replenish the soil, at least where you want to plant, then try various things from ferns, cyclamen,  snowdrops and bluebells, to hardy geraniums, lamiums, wood anemones, saxifraga urbium,  heucheras and cotoneaster etc. Some, or all of those will grow given enough attention and water initially.
    Many of them will adapt to drier conditions once established, while others will manage anyway. Put in decent sized plants though, not tiny plugs which will get swallowed up quickly, and keep the ivy at bay as much as you can.
    Then see what thrives  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Vinca seems to do well here under trees. I spotted some had recently started to flower and posted a video starting with it here. There is also some ajuga I planted about the garden that seems to hold its own when faced with ivy and the purple leaved variety has interesting colour even when it isn't flowering. I also tried the Chinese bramble (rubus tricolor) but in spite of getting some inconspicuous flowers it has yet to produce fruit and is another ground cover that is vigorous and competes well with ivy but with no fruit I'm not that eager to grow any more of it.
    Happy gardening!
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