One of the most striking and misunderstood plants in the Irish field is Ivy. You'll find its twisting tendrils on gate posts & trees and around hedgerows & fences. With its dark juicy berries and glossy green leaves, the ivy is one of the British Isles' few native evergreen plants and it's actually more fragrant than you might think.
Ivy is actually my favourite of the Field Apothecary candle range as not only do I love the rich fragrant mix of Ivy, Sloe and Rose, I also love the plant itself because it is a rich source of food and shelter for wildlife and absolutely essential to our countryside but yet, it gets such bad press.
Let's clear up the myths right now - it doesn't kill trees and it's only toxic in humans when it's ingested. It's also got nothing to do with it's less friendly US namesakes, Boston Ivy and Poison Ivy, both skin irritants.
Always connected with winter time and Christmas, the Ivy is an important plant in folklore and sprigs were routinely brought into houses to keep evil spirits at bay.
More randomly and less likely (though feel free to let us know if this works for you!), wearing a wreath of ivy leaves around the head is supposed to prevent one from getting drunk. The Roman god Bacchus, the god of intoxication, was often depicted wearing a wreath of ivy and grapevines.
Ivy was historically seen as a symbol of intellectual and sporting achievement with wreaths awarded to winners of sporting events and literary competitions in ancient Greece. Regarded as the emblem of fidelity, priests would also traditionally present a wreath of ivy to newly married couples and even today, it is often the custom for bridal bouquets to contain a sprig of ivy.
Sadly, this woody climber is often accused of strangling trees. But ivy should be celebrated and valued for the pivotal role it plays in providing wildlife with food and shelter. Its nectar, pollen and berries are an essential food source for insects and birds during autumn/winter & it provides shelter for insects, birds, bats and other small mammals. In fact, the presence of ivy on trees has huge wildlife benefits and the Woodland Trust advise that it does not damage trees, nor is it an indicator in itself of poor tree health.
So give the humble Ivy some love next time you see one and why not ward off evil spirits and hangovers by burning our Ivy Candle in your home this winter (well we can't be entirely sure about that last one but it's worth a try?)