From time to time I post about “Neighborhood Improvements.” Today’s “improvement” is in my own front yard.
When we bought our house in 1980, the lamppost was already liberally swathed in ivy. The ivy was so thick, in fact, that it was a while before we discovered that there was a wooden sign attached to the post that identified the residents: TREWOLLA. Since the owners we had purchased from were named Ferris, this was obviously an old sign.
Through the years, the ivy thrived. The oldest photo I can find without wading through film prints is this one taken in September 2004.
It was still burgeoning in April 2009.
This 2010 photo shows the Christmas treatment it got every year. At first my husband wound strings of light around the ivy; when blanket lights became available, he started using those. He screwed a plug/bulb converter into the light socket, swapped out the Soft White bulb for a clear blue one, and plugged the light strings in. This was possible because three of the glass panes in the lantern were missing, perhaps partly due to a storm but largely because the ivy had invaded the lantern.
Christmas wasn’t the only decorating occasion. I can’t find a photo of this (I think we stopped doing it before I got a digital camera), but we used to put a skeleton mask on the front of the lantern and wrap a sheet around the ivy to resemble a ghost.
In August 2014, my granddaughters posed for a number of photos in front of the still-lush ivy.
By January of this year, when my husband was photographed removing the blanket lights, the ivy had gotten a bit thin. I take full responsibility for this. I was pretty tired of it the way it was attacking the lantern and also breaking up the brick border around the lamppost. Every time I edged the front walk, I would give the ivy a “haircut,” trimming it back to a few inches above the ground (theoretically to facilitate mowing). The last time I did this, I decided to also “comb” it. It proved to be mostly snarls, and by the time I’d combed out all the knots, I found that there was actually no ivy still attached to the ground. As I kept removing more and more of it, including the stems, thick as my thumb, that had looped around the crossbar of the lamppost, eventually it all came off in one piece!
My husband, who had been quite a fan, was, to say the least, Not Pleased. The ivy had been really all that was holding the lantern in place. It had come apart from its base years ago, and the base itself was attached with only one (very stubborn, as it turned out) screw. I suggested that a new lamp would be a suitable Christmas present for me (obviously the post was still usable—and not going anywhere). He searched online and found this Thomas Lighting Sl9087-63 Hancock One-Light Outdoor Post Lantern, Painted Bronze. I approved, and he ordered it.
Over the course of the past few days, he has removed the old lantern, repainted the lamppost, and installed the new lantern, and I think it is a vast improvement. There’s still some ivy at the base of the post, so over time it may grow back, but I won’t be encouraging it!