Postcard from... New York


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The Independent Online


A vexing topic has come up of late at co-op board meetings where I live in Manhattan. It has to do with the ivy that covers one end of the building as well as the trunk and branches of a large adjacent tree. Recently, the ivy has also made tentative efforts at colonising my sitting room windows. Blocking out my sunlight won’t do of course and I shall beat it back. But to my dismay, some of my neighbours want to kill off the ivy entirely.  Rats scurry up and down it they claim (doubtful), and it is weakening the mortar between the bricks (probably true).

I now learn to my dismay that ivy all across America has become the victim of an organised extermination effort. Groups of volunteers are deployed to parks and woods to rip it up from the roots. One such is the No Ivy League in Portland, Oregon, where there is an annual No Ivy Day.

We are talking English ivy, first bought to America in 1727. Today it is found in about 30  temperate states. Never mind that nurseries sell it also, these folks dislike it because it’s an invasive, non-native plant that chokes other, native plants.

Still, as the lone Englishman in my building – it’s not large – I will continue to act the colonialist and insist this  particular ivy stand is left alone.