Anyone who dismisses ivies as just green climbers should take the time to look through this book by Peter Rose. The current 1996 edition is still in print and regarded as a standard work on the subject of garden Ivies. Peter Rose (1916 – 1997) gained a National Diploma in Horticulture at Wisley before working as a commercial nurseryman before joining the Ministry of Agriculture as a Plant Health Inspector. He developed a special interest in ivies and wrote extensively on the subject, developing an international reputation for his knowledge.
The book is a development for one of his earlier ones, simply titled “Ivies” and published in 1980. Peter was a horticulturalist not botanist and his book is very much written from that prospective. The first four chapters cover the background to ivies, including their history, uses, biology and naming; but in a manner that non botanist will find very accessible. The fifth chapter takes up about 60% of the book and is an A to Z of the different ivies. Over 285 different ivies are described in detail with notes on their habit, appearance and history with extensive use of colour photographs. The final two chapters deal with the use and cultivation of ivies in the garden.
Being 16 years old will hamper the book a little, as some of the botany has moved on, but the book was so well researched and written in the first place it is still very relevant today. It has the added advantage that ivies are a sadly over look group of plants – often relegated to quickly covering an eyesore – so they have not seen the influx of new varieties a “fashionable” plant does.