Garden Blog - Blog Post

That Creeping Feeling


A bit like squabbling heirs, jostling for the crown in a succession (or regicide), I spent a good deal of effort deposing the ivy from the patio wall to expose the beautiful stone underneath. This ivy had completely taken over and was king, smothering any other plant that dared to get in its way. It stretched right along the length of the wall and its reign was supreme. It knew no boundaries.


When it went, it finally revealed the lovely stone work previously hidden underneath. The summer sun and rain finished the job of alternately washing and bleaching to restore the original bright finish.

Patio Wall Close-up

In the usual case of solving one problem and creating another, the dethroning of the ivy left a power vacuum and there’s another contender for the throne that has seized the opportunity: the Ivy-Leaved Toadflax or Cymbalaria Muralis has made a bid for the crown.

Ivy-Leaved Toadflax Taking Over

This section of wall was completely cleared in late Summer but now the creeping tendrils of this plant are covering the space the ivy used to enjoy and I haven’t decided what to do with it yet. It has spread rather quickly and once again, covered the stone that I worked hard to uncover. I had visions of rare and delicate alpines studding this wall like jewels, but at the moment all I have is a rampant “wildflower”.

The propagation method for this plant is fascinating:

The flower stalk is initially positively phototropic and moves towards the light – after fertilisation, it becomes negatively phototropic and moves away from the light. This results in seed being pushed into dark crevices of rock walls, where it is more likely to germinate and where it prefers to grow – Wikipedia

How does a plant learn to do that? Really? I mean, just how? The mind boggles. No-matter, the result is that it’s making a successful bid for supremacy of the wall. This plant is coming on to my radar and it had better hope that it doesn’t come under the full glare of my attention or it will end up going the same way as the ivy did. If that does happen, I wonder what plant then, will make a bid for the kingdom of the wall? Let the Game of Thrones commence!

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Sunil Patel

I'm Sunil Patel, this is me. I created the Garden at 13 Broom Acres and I open it to visitors. I also bake and write blog posts giving a "behind the scenes" look into what it's like to maintain such a garden.

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casa mariposa 24/01/2015 - 2:48 pm

It sounds like your plant is doing the Walk of Shame and sneaking home after a wild night of bad choices only to leave all those babies in its wake. I’d establish dominance and kill it off, leaving you in control of throne for at least a day.

Sunil 27/01/2015 - 8:00 am

Hello Tammy, it might all end in tears and drama, but that’s gardening for you isn’t it? I’ll see how it gets on this summer, but it had definitely be careful and look to the ivy as an example of what happens if it pushes too far.

Alain 24/01/2015 - 5:51 pm

I can see that it might be dangerous to let it spread. In my garden it is easy to control because the place is too hot and sunny for it but it is an other kettle of fish in yours. There are many more attractive things that would grow there. Tammy above is no doubt right. The wall is quite good looking!

Sunil 28/01/2015 - 8:01 pm

Hello Alain, I think you’re right, it might be dangerous to let this one get away with itself. I would prefer a mix of delicate alpines in this wall instead of a single mass of this plant. Come the summer, its days might just be numbered, it all depends on whether I get round to it.

gardeninacity 25/01/2015 - 12:32 am

Looks like you’ll need to yank out the new dominant vine. Though that is fascinating about how the Cymbalaria gets its seeds planted in crevices.

Sunil 28/01/2015 - 8:03 pm

Hello Jason, I think I will have to yank it out eventually and replace it with something I want. The way this seems to creep without you noticing is scary, one minute it’s a few leaves clustered in a corner, the next its tendrils have spread far and wide.

lynngator 25/01/2015 - 8:03 pm

Sunil, that was very interesting! Boy, it must’ve been tough work to get rid of that ivy. Have you thought about a miniature climbing rose on part of that wall? Of course, leave it to me to consider a rose for every occasion!

Sunil 28/01/2015 - 8:05 pm

Hi Lynn, it was pretty hard work getting rid of all that ivy, It took several bin collections to dispose of the whole lot and then came using electrical pliers to remove the roots from the wall that had snapped off. I can trust you to think of roses, but I think I might be coming to the point where even I wonder if I might have overdone it. I’ve just ordered a whole set of roses for a new border at the front, bringing our current total to almost 20!

aberdeen gardening 26/01/2015 - 5:22 pm

Go on Sunil, after all that hard work I think you should get cracking with the Alpines, what a show it would give.

Sunil 28/01/2015 - 8:07 pm

Hello Alistair, I do think alpines will work better in the wall. I think that was what it was originally for, but the ivy got away and smothered everything. Now that it’s coming back to a blank canvas, I can look into the whole area of alpines, it’s a new one for me and I haven’t grown them before.

Stacy 29/01/2015 - 7:43 pm

Wow. Coming from a desert climate, I’m just stunned at the growth rate. Late summer wasn’t all that long ago! I might be tempted to invest in a flame-thrower, actually…

Sunil 30/01/2015 - 7:21 pm

Hello Stacy, lovely to see you here. A flame thrower to sort out weeds it actually a very good idea – especially for the front gravel drive where I can easily spend hours teasing out self-seeded adventurers of the weedy kind!

Lynne Scott 25/03/2015 - 9:26 pm

Two words–propane torch.

Sunil 26/03/2015 - 11:10 am

Hello Lynne, I’ve heard the blow torch is actually pretty effective, I’m glad I din’t use it on the ivy initial though as I would have ended up with a 15-yard long wall of fire!


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