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Will my ivy recover?

Hello, this is my first time posting here - I need some advice from experienced gardeners! I have a local holiday cottage and we asked the fellow who does our hedges at home to do a winter tidy up. 

We have a variegated ivy in a big tub by the backdoor. It looked lovely, was not in anyone's way, and covered an ugly fence panel. I headed up there yesterday and found this - he has taken it right back to the trellise. I'm a little bit gutted - even if this was the 'right' thing to do, it's very ugly for our guests!

Could anyone advise whether this will grow back (two big thick stems at the base seem to be intact) and more importantly how long it will take to look nice again - if we're going to have that awful woody/rotten look for ages, I think we'd prefer to remove everything and start again (given it's a holiday cottage, so appearance is paramount). Also, if we are to keep it, should we similarly cut back the ivy he's left at the top of the fence? Will that stay alive? Is there a gardening reason he's done that? (it's possible he left it as we were clear not to do anything that would impact our neighbours).

Thank you in advance for all advice!


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  • Fran IOMFran IOM Posts: 2,212

    No doubt you will have some answers and advice soon.  :)
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,932
    edited November 2022
    It'll grow back if there's still roots at the base, but it will take a while - and by that I mean a year or so possibly, depending on the variety and how healthy it is. 
    You can certainly take off the top stuff as it isn't doing anything useful, if anything - it's making it look worse. No idea why he would do that. If it isn't actually attached to a growing root/stem, it won't survive anyway.
    Bear in mind that if you remove it, anything you put in won't instantly look good unless you buy a mature specimen f some kind - a shrub or similar.
    Perhaps you could leave the ivy, and have a container with some seasonal colour and spring bulbs to disguise it while the ivy grows back again.
    Oh - and don't ask him to do any tidying again  ;)

    @Tolly - I've just seen it's in a tub, so, if it hasn't rooted through that into the ground, you can always move it out of the way and put a different container there for the next 6 months or so. Even if it's rooted, you can cut the roots away and move it.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • TollyTolly Posts: 5
    Thank you @Fairygirl. Yes it's in a tub (on a concrete yard) so entirely removable. 

    And thank you @Fran IOM for turning my photo the right way up!
  • Arthur1Arthur1 Posts: 528
    Personally, I would continue to prune it so it looks uniform. A lot of that top growth will be unattached? Anything rootless will die. 
    Cut back hard. Put something else in front for a year.
  • TollyTolly Posts: 5
    Unfortunately there's not enough room to put anything in front of the tub - the tub fills the recess and anything in front of the tub would block the front door.

    So it sounds like it's a case of tidying it up so it all looks uniformly rubbish and woody for a year or more, or get rid altogether. 🤔
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,932
    Is there nowhere else you could put the ivy until it recovers a bit?
    Then just replace it with another container for a while, as I described earlier.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • bédébédé Surrey Hills, acid greensand.Posts: 1,271
    edited November 2022
    Yes, it will recover, and quite quickly.  I have been there and done that.  Spend the winter tidying away anything that is obviously dead so that it looks as good as it can, and there is room for regrowth.  Give th dead middle a hard go-over with a stiff bristled brush.  Cutting back the growing top will force regrowth lower down. But perhaps consult the neighbours first about that.

    On a plant like yours, it is sutprising where the roots get.  They have probably found gaps in the concrete, or gone under the fence into next door's soil.

    It's a sad truism that, "only an expert can use experts".

    From my career in business, I know that most problems result from poor communicatimg
    "Have nothing in your garden that you don't know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze I garden in South Notts on an improved clay soil Posts: 3,040
    @Tolly I think you have done exactly what it needed. I agree continue what you have started. You will be looking at lots of dead twigs over winter. By late spring with some watering it will shoot from every cut the is alive right up the fence. By September you will be wondering if it needs doing again.
    The most serious gardening I do would seem very strange to an onlooker,for it involves hours of walking round in circles,apparently doing nothing. Helen Dillon.
  • TollyTolly Posts: 5
    Thanks for all the advice , you've been very helpful! I think we'll go up this weekend and see how it looks if we cut back the bits that were left behind. If it looks acceptable, possibly leave it over the winter and see how it looks in Spring and decide whether it stays or not.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,932
    It won't grow much now, for the winter, so it'll depend on how you feel about it being at the entrance to the property, and whether you think any customers/guests might be put off by it. I'm sure they'd be fine about it though  :)
    The speed at which it revives depends on the variety. In pots, they don't shoot up so quickly in my experience, so once you've tidied it all up, you'll be able to see if any has escaped the pot, which you can then tackle too.

    Worst case scenario, you can dump it and plant something else in the pot   :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


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