Ring in the holiday season and reduce the spread of some invasive species by using them in your seasonal decorations!
English ivy (Hedera helix) is an evergreen vine long associated with the holiday season, from carols (“The Holly and the Ivy”), to its use as a mainstay of British Christmas church decorations since at least the 15th and 16th centuries. In southwestern BC, it is commonly planted to provide quick cover for walls and buildings, and as ground cover in commercial landscapes. Unfortunately, it is also recognized as a serious, smothering invasive.
English holly (Ilex aquifolium) has also long been associated with Christmas, due to its green shiny leaves and bunches of bright red berries. Unfortunately, garden plants have spread throughout the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. Originally from Eurasia and northern Africa, English holly is a large, evergreen shrub that grows to the height of a small tree, up to 13m tall. The berries are eaten by birds.
How to Make Ivy and Holly Wreaths
Cut long strands of older ivy vines (with woody stems) that have grown up the trunks of trees or over walls, and wrap them around in a circle, tying them together with some light wire. This ivy wreath makes a nice decoration on its own, decorated with a red bow, or add in some holly branches for more colour (and invasive species reduction!).
Caution: Holly and ivy berries are poisonous – keep away from small children and pets!
Note: make sure you dispose of these invasives properly after the holidays – birds eat berries from both holly and ivy, so bag them securely for the garbage, or burn the wreaths after the holidays.