Barry Fugatt: Vines can be beautiful but aggressive | Home & Garden


Amethyst Falls wisteria can be a potential beast in the garden. This non-adhesive vine climbs by twisting and wrapping itself around any foothold it encounters.

A hand printed note taped to a bulletin board in the university cafeteria read: “Two story brick house for rent, quaint and lovely, reasonably priced, close to campus.”

Graduate school was proving to be a real challenge, and living in a noisy “animal house” college dorm wasn’t helping matters. With the help of two roommates, we rented the old house, which turned out to be anything but “quaint and lovely.”

The house was a total mess. The roof leaked, the plumbing squealed like a tortured pig and a funky smell permeated the entire house. But it was affordable and quiet.

The house had one other interesting feature. It was covered, ground to roof, with Boston ivy vines that had not been pruned in years, if not decades. I literally had to hack away vines to see out of an upstairs bedroom window.

Early one morning, while lying in bed, I was shocked to see a huge rat perched on the window sill a few feet from my head. I bolted from bed and ran screaming from the room like a hysterical child. I’m not at all proud of my un-manly response, but I absolutely hate rats! I quickly discovered that the place was crawling with rodents!

With permission from the rental house owner, my buddies spent days pulling and scraping a thick mat of rodent-infested vines from the walls of the old house. I supervised their work from a safe distance across the street.