The Garden Guide

Book: A treatise on the theory and practice of landscape gardening, adapted to North America,1841
Chapter: Section VI. Vines and Climbing Plants

Beauty of climbing plants

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Climbing plants may be classed among the adventitious beauties of trees. Who has not often witnessed with delight in our native forests, the striking beauty of a noble tree, the old trunk and fantastic branches of which were enwreathed with the luxuriant and pliant shoots and rich foliage of some beautiful vine, clothing even its decayed limbs with verdure, and hanging down in gay festoons or loose negligent masses, waving to and fro in the air. The European Ivy (Hedera Helix) is certainly one of the finest, if not the very finest climbing plant (or more properly, creeping vine, for by means of its little fibres or rootlets on the stems, it will attach itself to trees, walks, or any other substance), with which we are acquainted. It possesses not only very fine dark green palmated foliage in great abundance, but the foliage has that agreeable property of being evergreen,-which, while it enhances its value tenfold, is at the same time so rare among vines. The yellow flowers of the Ivy are great favorites with bees, from their honied sweetness; they open in autumn, and the berries ripen in the spring. When planted at the root of a tree, it will often, if the head is not too thickly clad with branches, ascend to the very topmost limbs; and its dark green foliage, wreathing itself about the old and furrowed trunk, and hanging in careless drapery from the lower branches, adds greatly to the elegance of even the most admirable tree. Spenser describes the appearance of the Ivy growing to the tops of the trees, "Emongst the rest, the clamb'ring Ivie grew, Knitting his wanton arms with grasping hold, Lest that the poplar happely should renew Her brother's strokes, whose boughs she doth enfold With her lythe twigs, till they the top survew, And paint with pallid green her buds of gold."