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Wildlife Woodland

We have about 1/2 acre of woodland attached to our garden. It is wonderful to have and full of Snowdrops, Bluebells, Daffodils and Primroses in Spring. The problem I have is Ivy carpeting almost the whole wood. I appreciate the importance of Ivy for wildlife but I am concerned that it is taking over and will prevent bulbs and wildflowers from coming up. I am wondering if I should try to remove some of the Ivy to allow light in? Another question is should I mow the more grassy area at the edge of the wood to sow and encourage more wildflowers?
All advice much appreciated. 


  • WoodgreenWoodgreen Posts: 1,273
    If the ivy is forming a close ground cover I would leave well alone. It may be doing a better job than you realise at keeping out thuggish unwanted weeds. In my experience bulbs and primroses can live alongside it, they emerge through it here, but much depends on conditions and it may be different where you are.
    It's good to have that evergreen matrix to keep the soil stabilised. You can easily cut plantings holes in it, remove unwanted weeds from it, and scatter seeds of desirable plants amongst it. Just be careful that it doesn't ascend every tree trunk. Here I keep some ivy trimmed at about eight feet on some trees to provide cover, feeding opportunities and nesting sites for birds
    Bare soil would be harder to keep on top of, but it all depends on what you want it to be like, and how vigorous the ivy is. But I would certainly advise against wholesale clearance -- if you feel it grows too strongly to support plants you wish to introduce, try clearing just a small area or two and see how it goes.
    It sounds a lovely area, enjoy it!
  • Thank you so much, I will leave the ivy as you suggest and just clear very small areas or holes to encourage wildflowers around the brighter edges.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,817
    I totally agree with @woodgreen :)

    I grew up surrounded by deciduous woodland ... ivy carpeted the woods but didn't stop bluebells, primroses and wood anemones from poking through in the springtime.  Primroses are more likely to do best around the edges of the woods as they need a bit more sunlight than the others.  

    I wouldn't mow the edges, but possibly cut it back once a year (in the late summer I think would be an optimum time but I stand to be corrected on that one) ... this will just make sure scrub and blackberries etc don't totally overwhelm the area.  

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

  • Thank you so much, I will continue to enjoy it as it is. I forgot to mention that the violets were amazing this year. I was planning to do an annual cut back of the edges next month, I want to make sure that the birds, butterflies etc have got all they need first. It's all a learning curve but I love it 🙂
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,817
    Deeply envious ... as I said, I grew up surrounded by such places ... not so easy to access them now.  Enjoy.  

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

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