Gardening update part 1 of 2 — Beware of the Chameleon

We’re still chopping away at the ivy that has invaded our garden. In this photo you can see that we have cleared out the middle of the garden The ivy remains to the right and far left.

I found out from an OSU website that the ivy is called Houttuynia cordata ‘Chameleon’.  It is native to Japan, Southeast Asia, and the Himalayas. Here is more information from the OSU website:

“Due to its invasiveness, the best cultural practices to contain its spread are to place it in a restricted root zone area (of about 1′ deep), such as that bounded by a sidewalk and foundation, or by planting it in a large, wide pot with minimal drainage holes, and planting the pot in the landscape.” In full sun the variegated foilage shows colors of red, bronze, cream, and yellow. In partial shade it turns to greens and maroons.

It “should only be used in a restricted root zone area due to its rapid spread out-of-bounds.”  It is “invasive due to underground spreading rhizomes (and very hard to get rid of, as the rhizomes break off upon digging, and the plant is somewhat tolerant of many herbicides)” OSU website.

The bloomin’ ivy is blooming. This is the right end of the garden where I have begun to devote my efforts. Since there is no way on God’s green earth that I will be able to clear it all out this year by double-digging, as we have done with the cleared areas so far, I decided to at least pull out as many of the leaf-bearing plants as I can to deny them the growth energy provided by the sun. We will have to come back in the fall and double-dig these areas.

Here is a close-up of the ivy under and around the Oak Leaf Hydrangeas.

I noticed the Oak Leaf Hydrangeas are ready to bloom. They look much healthier this year since Mark removed all the over-grown mature Honeysuckle plants, last year,  that were choking them out.

I love these Oak Leaf Hydrangeas. (You don’t see them encroaching on other plants’ space.)

And in case I haven’t yet convinced you that the ivy needs to go, take a look at what it is doing to the grass. The rough soil at the top is where we have turned over the soil in the garden. The hard-packed soil with the small leaves of ivy emerging, is where grass used to be, but now ivy has infiltrated.

If we don’t stop it, I have no doubt this invasive ivy monster will continue across the grass, creep under the driveway, and ultimately cover our entire yard. Then it will move to the neighbors’ yards, out onto the open land beside major roadways, and across the county. Before you know it, if you live in the continental USA, this very ivy will be appearing in your yard states away.

You’ll thank me for all this hard work later.

We have nine daylily plants. Right now, three are still buried, for the most part,  under the ivy.

You can see where I have emancipated some of the daylilies from the ivy.

We planted this little shasta daisy plant at the opposite, or left end, of the garden. The ivy is not as thick here. We carved out a little space for the daisy. It will have to be dug back up and replanted later when we are able to devote our attentions to this section of the garden.

I’m done for today.  I got out here shortly after 7:00 this morning. By 9:30 or 10:00 at the absolute latest, it is way too hot for me to be digging and bending over this soil pulling out plants and tangled rhizomes, with sweat dripping into my eyes. I have my limits.

I’ll just leave all this stuff out here, in case you stop by and want to have a little fun. I have to warn you, though, it is back-breaking work.  But there is something satisfying about it.

Just remember if you are ever shopping at a garden store and you see, and are tempted by, the Houttuynia cordata ‘Chameleon’, turn and, don’t walk, run away. Do not be fooled.  Do not be seduced into buying it.

Trust me.


See more posts about gardening in my series.

10 thoughts on “Gardening update part 1 of 2 — Beware of the Chameleon”

  1. Reminds me of a Steven King novel…can’t remember which one, where the plants start growing inside the house and across the people. You could wake up with a sprig of ivy in your nose, Christine!

  2. Wow! That ivy is wicked. It looks tall also.

    It will sound strange…but does the website say anything about Goats? Goats might like the taste of it. And they would eat even the bad roots.

    We have Kudzu here in Georgia. Kudzu sounds like a cousin of your Chameleon Ivy. People spend thousands of dollars trying to remove Kudzu. Yet goats love it.

    Hmmm….you would have to watch the goat while eating…the Ivy…as the rest of your garden might look tasty too!

  3. You have a beautiful property and I commend you for your efforts. Ivy can be a difficult thing to deal with. With my first home it was blackberry bushes..another unwanted trespasser, even though the berries
    are wonderful. Hang in There!

  4. It’s amazing how green your garden is . . . when not long ago you were sharing photos of ice and snow.

    Love the new photo at the top! Bambi.


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