That Twisted Creeper I Adore

woodland-garden-may-2018This will be my 4th summer here in this little in-between woodland garden. Amongst the ferns and hostas, the new coral bells, the Creeping Jenny, the Lily-of-the-Valley, and the wild Geranium, there creeps and twists this vine. And each year I have gently guided that Parthenocissus quinquefolia to suit. Encouraging it along the arch of my little woodsy arbour that leads out into the big bad world, as slowly, day by day, it fills in.

Sitting on the stoop, admiring the colour of the leaves, the play of shadow and light, and each day I watch the twisting woody specimen, like literally every frickn’ day watch, as she tenaciously creeps up and down and over and around and through the hedgerow that hides the dreary asphalt parking lot next door.

Traipsing merrily along the evergreen branches (both dead and alive) of the Cedar hedge, scrambling this way and that, and up and over, creating an arbour with its own stems, with me merely now its guide. One learns rather quickly with Virginia Creeper that you are truly only ever its humble servant, never its master.


In that first summer, when the maintenance crews from next door had attempted to kill her, thinking that by chopping back to the ground would mean doom to what they thought of as merely a weed. The fools, ol’ginny just took that as a challenge.

So I intervened, calmed her back (read pruned), and have thus the pleasure of enjoying the many creatures that love her too. She is a hiding nook for the birds, and as well a squirrel highway, as they scramble across my arbour, and making the chimes chime below them.


for the WPC ::: twisted

Scientific Name: Parthenocissus quinquefolia

This vine has a woody stem and leaves composed of five leaflets, arranged palmately — like fingers that spread out from the palm of your hand. Its white flowers bloom by the end of the summer producing dark yet bright blue fruit in the early fall. This is in striking contrast to the brilliant red of its fall leaves.

Range: Virginia creeper, a member of the grape family, is commonly seen around its native region of Ontario and Quebec, in woods and gardens, growing up trees and buildings as well as across areas as a ground cover.

Habitat: This plant loves the sun and a place to climb, but seems very tolerant of shady areas and can thrive without support. Although it prefers moist soils, Virginia creeper can be grown in drier conditions.

Primary Ecosystem Roles:
The shelter afforded by Virginia creeper provides places for warblers and other songbirds to nest and gain protection from predators and harsh weather. It also shelters toads and insects, which in turn are food for many birds and mammals. Virginia creeper also offers food in the form of pollen for bees that pollinate its flowers and berries for songbirds, skunks and chipmunks. Deer are known to occasionally munch on the leaves.

Notes: Virginia creeper has been confused with poison ivy, but the two can be told apart by the number of leaflets — poison ivy only has three. In addition, Virginia creeper is toothed along its leaf margin, whereas poison ivy either has smooth or slightly wavy leaf edges.

Canadian Wildlife Federation website


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