The ivy growing on our front terrace covers a multitude of gardening sins. It’s hard to believe all those vines came out of six scrawny starter plants.
Ivy grows rapidly during spring, summer and fall, so it is necessary to cut it back several times a year to keep it from taking over the front porch and the driveway.
In recent years I have found bending over and standing on my head for extended periods of time to battle the advance of the ivy onto the porch leaves me dizzier than usual. So I enlist some troopers from our legion of grandkids.
The only requirement to join this elite crew is to be able to use scissors without cutting oneself or anyone else. I usually find children from kindergarten to grade three are the most willing. This spring I had three recruits to lead the assault against the ivy.
It started with a battle between two brothers as to whose turn it was to play one of their currently favorite games. I intervened to ask the plaintiff if he wanted to cut back the ivy. “No,” he wailed, “I want to play the game!”
His older brother dumped the game and offered to help, and a female cousin joined him. I armed them with scissors, and we marched on the ivy. I showed them the line of attack, and they moved to opposite sides of the field to begin to cut the ivy down to size.
They had a little trouble with the boundary lines, and the next thing I knew the male was cutting ivy in the middle of the terrace. I ordered him to move closer to the porch. He did, then turned his back on the porch and chopped another bunch out of the middle.
I finally got him in the right place and turned to help the girl. She’s a little older and caught on more quickly. I turned back to the boy to see him perched precariously on top of the wall which drops down five feet to the driveway.
Maintaining near calm, I ordered him to step forward toward me. He did. Then I began to breathe again as I explained the danger of having his back to the drop-off.
By this time the youngest boy had found a little pair of scissors and joined the troops. He grabbed a handful of ivy in the middle and chopped energetically. I yelled, “NO, back off!”
Pointing to his cousin he claimed, “She told me to cut in the middle!”
She explained, “In the middle of the back, dummy”
I picked him up and set him down “in the middle of the back” and told him to chop away.
Keeping one eye on my troops, I began to shove the cut ivy into a bag so we could transport it to the hill out back. I always hope it will take root back there and grow down the hill. I don’t worry about it growing up the hill because my husband will chop it down with his trusty lawnmower to protect his back lawn.
When the battle against the encroaching ivy was won, I sent the soldiers to the fence out back where they had a blast heaving ivy clippings down the hill.
I went into the house to rest and rejuvenate myself. After just a little while someone asked, “Where are the little kids?”
Several people looked out the back windows, but no one saw them.
I looked out the front door and there they stood. One held a bright orange poppy. Another was carefully cradling several green-gray poppy buds. I was sure I was seeing trouble.
Awhile back Grandpa had accidentally mowed down all the wild poppies in the backyard. For the last two years he had been trying to get them to grow again. This year he put them in the dirt under the four legs of the windmill in the backyard.
Just a few days before he had proudly told me there was one orange flower and several nice buds. I was sure I was seeing all of them in the grandkids’ hands.
The kids proudly brought them into the house. They said they reached through the back fence to pick them. Grandpa forgot to tell me the poppies on the back hill had finally grown all the way up to the back fence. No wonder my hair keeps getting grayer.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate on June 5, 2002.