Monday 11 October 2010

Virginia Creeper

You can tell it's autumn.

Virginia Creeper is not particularly special - crawling its way up the sides of buildings like the spreading tendrils of a spider's web - until the autumn, when suddenly it comes into its own and makes everyone sit up, take note and realise how wonderful it truly is.

Also known as the five leaf ivy, the Parthenocissus quinquefolia is native to the eastern North American continent and can climb up to 30 metres in the wild, gripping onto surfaces with its small suckers. Because it uses suckers, rather then invasive roots, it is believed to cause little damage to the walls upon which it climbs, making it a popular plant for adding interest to an otherwise featureless spot, such as the bulk of this gable end.

The Virginia Creepers I remember best are from two significant places in my adult life. The first was from my student days, where one end of the main administative block on my campus, known as College Main, was completely covered in this plant. The deep red and burgundy, spreading like a fire across the pale grey stone of the building, was a magnificant display each year and something I will always remember with a great deal of affection.

The second place was a house in Old Trafford, which had a small spread of Virginia Creeper above a window, peeping out over a barbed wire topped wall. This was a much less impressive show, but one I much appreciated in the dense urban environment.


  1. It really is quite pretty in the fall.

  2. It is really beautiful!
    We once had a house that had a wall covered in Virginia Creeper - all summer long it was like a secret waiting to burst out in colour in the autumm.

  3. It always looks wonderful at this time of year - such a rich colour:)