I saw this compact, glossy shrub at Wave Hill Garden in New York City in early October. It was covered in subtle greenish little flowers. I was struck by its rounded, full shape and the deep green, almost black, shining leaves.
This was an eye catcher and exactly what I think I need for a spot my garden.
Do you know what it is? Does a close up of the little flowers help?
How about a close up of the leaves?
Yes. This is common English ivy, Hedera helix.
Ivy! A dense, full shrub, about three feet high and pleasingly mounded.
|Immature, vining ivy leaves|
But when an ivy vine reaches the end of its structure or the top of a tree, it has nowhere further to climb, and it then matures.
When ivy matures it changes genetically. The leaves lose their lobed points and become rounded. The vine stops being a vine and the topmost part of the plant becomes shrubby and dense.
If you take a cutting from the shrubby mature part of the ivy, it will keep its altered genetic characteristics -- you get another mature shrub form of the plant.
But if you plant the seeds from the mature flowering ivy, you get an immature vine, and you are back to having rampant vining English ivy.
Weird. I had never seen a mature ivy before, and it was pretty. That alone was worth the trip to Wave Hill, but there were many other delights that day as well.
Wave Hill is in the Bronx, but feels miles away. It's tucked into a busy neighborhood, a couple streets off Broadway, with aggressive traffic whizzing by at its edges, but all is serene inside the grounds.
It overlooks the Hudson River, across from the Palisades.
It is a mature and old garden, with beautiful tree and shrub specimens. That's not a flowering tree -- that snow white blast is the foliage on a variegated 'Wolf Eyes' kousa dogwood.
It had been a private garden originally and has beautiful walks and pergolas, a greenhouse, flowerbeds, and the original stately homes.
It's a relaxing garden, with the iconic Wave Hill chairs dotted about the lawns to encourage sitting, and many families spreading out picnics on the grounds.
|The "Wave Hill" chair|
You can't beat a day when you learn something completely new and astonishing about a boring old plant, you get to sit in a beautiful oasis in the city, and you have a bottlebrush buckeye for a backdrop.
Doesn't get any better than that.