Here’s the thing about Virginia Creeper, it gets you in trouble with your neighbors. My garden is the epicenter of the neighborhood plantdemic. How can I deny its origin when a portion of my fence is covered with it? It’s like saying you never took the cookie when your mouth is covered with crumbs.
My neighbor and sarcastic gardening friend, Jim, approached me earlier this year with a leaf in hand and a smirk on his face. The conversation went like this…
Jim: Recognize this? (As he rolls the stem between his fingers, spinning the leaf in my face.)
Me: Go home Jim.
Jim: Yeah, I thought so.
He lives across the street from me and discovered several vines growing in his backyard garden which is about 60 yards away from the point of origin, also known as my garden.
I received Red Wall Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) as a plant sample many years ago and planted it in the Redbud garden that’s visible from the dining room windows. Native to the Chicago area and the Midwest, I thought it was a great way to cover an empty cedar fence. Had I done my homework first, I would have burned it and planted a climbing hydrangea instead. But I was anxious to add some green to the fence, the plant was free, and this certainly did the trick, fast. Since then, my neighbors have received “free samples” too. Sometimes free isn’t all that great.
If you keep up with me on the blog or on Instagram, you know that my redbud bit the dust this year. The photo above shows the piled remains of the tree. While I was cleaning up the debris, I ripped down the Virginia Creeper too, a garden task that was long overdue. Perhaps the only saving grace of this vigorous vine is the beautiful fall color, hence the name “Red Wall.” The blue berries in the summer are pretty too but let’s not ignore the writing on the wall. It was time to put the bully in its place.
The tendrils were easy to detatch and gave willingly. The determined root system is another issue and will likely continue to force new growth for the next several years. I also walked the garden, as well as my neighbor’s, to pull any stragglers. There were many and I’m amazed at this plant’s determination and ability to grow in places where others wouldn’t have a chance, like in this yew beneath the dining room windows.
Virginia creeper ranks right up there with rabbits. Where there’s one there are many, many more. And you know how I feel about rabbits.
What do you wish you never planted?