When Laziness Reaches Its Limits
    One of the few plants in the yard that was probably planted by
a human being is English ivy. It grows toward the back and imparts
a civilized air to the proceedings here. Unfortunately, it does not, in
fact, behave in a civilized manner. It creeps out from the back
fence and crowds out everything in its way.
    As an import from England, ivy outcompetes our indigenous
plant species because it’s been released from the natural checks
in its home ecosystem. At the same time, it offers nothing to our
local species of wildlife, which evolved in tandem with our native
plants. While songbirds eat smartweed seeds and bees pollinate
asters, while hemlock trees shelter nesting mourning doves and
dogwood trees (like the baby I found beneath my tulip poplar)
feed tiger swallowtail butterflies, ivy takes up space and gives
nothing back. What’s worse, when it gets a foothold in a yard, it
then spreads from there to other yards and to the surrounding
woods and parks.
    Because of its anti-social qualities, English ivy and a few other
similarly invasive species have actually forced me to expend some
energy removing them.  The effort has been worth it. The last time I
beat back the ivy, it was replaced, within a couple months, by
blackberry bushes, 5 different native wildflowers, 4 native vines
(including the lovely Virginia creeper), 3 holly bushes, 4 juniper
trees, and 22 young deciduous trees in 5 species.

Copyright 2008 by M.A. Sheehan. All rights reserved.
A Year in the Yard