The warmth of September has kept the soil temperatures at a perfect pitch for planting potted perennials and shrubs. Autumn is quite the time to settle in fickle plants that like to bed their roots in before they have to do anything exceptional or enervating like flowering. However there is one climber that really does reward you before spring comes around and that is the much maligned ivy. People write pious reams about how marvellous ivy is because it is one of the latest flowering nectar plants and so is essential for autumn flying moths and also butterflies like the Holly Blue and the Red Admiral - all true, all true. They also write excoriating pieces about how ivy unsticks mortar, throttles trees and blocks up gutters - debatable. But what is rarely said is how beautiful ivy's leaves are - look at the number of plates decorated with ivy leaves! - how reliable it is and how flexible it is about its location. Ivy, like expensive paint gives marvellous coverage over an ugly wall, shady trellis or can be ground cover where lawnmowers do not dare to tread. What is more they do not require that endless fiddly tying in. Ivy kept under control is a wonderful weapon in a gardener's armoury. The variegated ivies that we stock include the elegant Glacier, to my mind the prettiest variety with its diminutive and silvery green leaves. It also has an RHS AGM. A more daring ivy with larger leaves and a slightly bling look is Goldheart while a more subtle version of that with more
creamy colouring is the gorgeous Gloire de marengo. And for the true traditionalists out there who would not dream of mucking around with a good thing, we do, of course, stock common ivy with its deep green evergreen leaves. And my own little addition to the pious literature that might amuse you is that ivy berry pith, so beloved of birds, has almost as many calories per gram as a Mars Bar!