Ivy, holly and cyclamen - everywhere!!!

Hi all

I am not an experienced gardener, and we have recently bought a house with a beautiful and well established garden.  Having now been in a month we have realised that there is ivy running through most shrubs and covering a lot of the ground, holly also in shrubs and little sprouts scatted around the garden and in paving cracks, and some under the house, and cyclamen that seems to have got everywhere - in the lawn, in cracks in paving, and even through to the grass on the verge by the pavement in front of the house.

 Is it possible to trim them back without having to kill them, or to dispose of some but not all?

How do we cut them back enough to control them? 

Any advice is greatly appreciated!





  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 11,448

    Ivy , you can just pull out every bit you dont want. Long shoots tend to run along the ground, easy to pull up. If they have already started to climb and stick to tree trunks, cut through thick stems with loppers.

    Most people would love to have cyclamen everywhere, you can move them around, or leave them, they are inconspicuous when they die down in early summer. If you really have too many, lift the corms in late spring and pot up, ideal for donating to bring and buy sales or plant swaps.

     Holly you are just going to have to dig up. Make sure you have a thick pair of leather gauntlets. Small ones you could transplant in a line for a good burglar resistant hedge that is good for wildlife.

    It's not a mess, it's a nature reserve.
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 11,448

    Also if its an established garden, you will probably have lots of hidden treasures, ie perennials that die down now,and bulbs that will come up in spring.

    Take it slowly, and you might have a lot of nice surprises.

    It's not a mess, it's a nature reserve.
  • Rosie31Rosie31 Posts: 483

    Hi Julie, welcome to the forum!  I'd agree with fidget - I'm very very jealous of your cyclamen, and they will disappear completely for most of the year...maybe you don't need to get rid of them unless you really hate them?  They'll do no harm to anything and they're about the only thing to brighten the garden through the winter.

    Ivy and holly, yes, they are a bit brutish (although holly only grows slowly, so easy to keep on top of).  Cut back ivy, dig up / pull out holly if you can.  If you just want to prune it back, feel free - holly and ivy are both as tough as old boots, you won't kill them.

    You're going to have so much fun with that garden!  Definitely try to be patient and wait a bit to see what comes up in spring before you do anything too drastic.  I'd advise taking lots of pictures so you don't forget what it looks like at each time of year. 

    Also - if this is your first 'proper' garden then try to get some really good tools for Christmas - you will never, never regret it.  Four things I'd get on my list to Santa right now:  some really good gloves;  a pair of Felco secateurs (there's no substitute);  a really good big plastic trug to carry garden prunings and stuff in;  and (my latest absolute must-have) a 'japanese razor hoe', find them online, the most fanTAStic multi-purpose thing, nearly as indispensible for me now as my Felcos.  And that is saying something.

    Have fun and let us know how you get on!


  • I feel your pain ... more holly and ivy than I know what to do with.  I could make a nice tidy profit by selling it as Christmas decorations if only I had the time to! 

    I've just spent another weekend pulling both out from underneath our laurels (which are also at some point for 'pulling' out. 

  • Alina WAlina W Posts: 1,445

    I agree with the suggestion not to do much if you've not seen the garden through the year - there are sure to be bulbs and deciduous plants lurking.

    Just keep on top of the weeding, especially the ivy as that can become a real thug and strangle things.

  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 24,406

    I agree about the ivy. It wants removing from shrubs etc before it spoils the shape of them. Also remove from the ground asap in case there are bulbs underneath. It will be hard to remove without spoiling your display later on. Cyclamen will cause no problems, they're lovely

  • Definitely cut the ivy back and carefully  get it away from the ground and the shrubs, it will take over just like convolvulous. Fidgitbones and Rosie 31 have given good advice.

  • DianaWDianaW Posts: 57

    Ivy is ideally pruned or pulled out at this time of year because it's ideal for making wreaths and other house decorations for the festive season. No wire frames etc required: just get twining.

    I cut mine for a workshop at the local community garden, where everyone (including lots of families with kids and young adults with no gardens of their own) can come and learn to make their own wreath to take home and decorate as they choose. We've also wound it around rope to make a garland for banisters etc. There are lots of other ideas among the comments on Rachel de Thame's video on making a more traditional wreath on a wire and moss base.

  • one word of warning, when working with ivy, it gives off fumes,which can cause respiratory problems, sore throats, etc ,so don't stick at the ivy pruning for any length of time and DO NOT shred, (gives if even more fumes!) or put on compost heap.

  • DianaWDianaW Posts: 57

    That's news to me. I've never had that problem, lily - and I spend hours at a time working with the stuff, albeit always outdoors (where presumably any fumes would dissipate).

    Ivy isn't good for composting because the tough stems don't break down easily - and they get stuck in a shredder, too. Best to put what you can't repurpose in the brown recycling bin to go into municipal composting.

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