Monday, 10 November 2008

Autumn Colour

Virginia Creeper Parthenocissus quinquefolia, native to North America, and brought to Europe by 1629, gives the most reliable colour of any plant and will grow just about anywhere. It's a self-clinging plant, and not ideal for old buildings*, but so striking one cannot help but admire it on other people's property.

Here it spreads across the end of the wheelhouse of the mill in the centre of Preuilly (above), and hangs in great tresses from the gutter of a building behind the château (below).

These pictures were taken in late September.


*I see Wikipedia gives Virginia Creeper a big plug as great for providing a safe – nay, beneficial even – way of covering old buildings with an attractive plant. I disagree. Even if the way the plant attaches to the building does not cause so much damage to soft traditional mortars as, for instance, ivy does, a blanket of stems and leaves covering a roof or wall means that there is a lot of moisture trapped in the gap between the plant and the wall. The wall can't expire in the way it needs to, and the plant itself is giving off moisture, compounding the damp problem, which will damage the fabric of the building and manifest itself on the interior.


Abbé Henri Proust said...

It is IVY (la lière) that is the real enemy of old buildings and lime mortar. Virginia creeper is more-or-less harmless if a bit messy, and needs to be kept in check, but can act as a good 'rainscreen' and sun shade element, reduce energy insolation, and the depradations of the old final enemy, UV radiation. Bees love it and they need our support at present...

Susan said...

I take it you wrote that Wiki entry then? :-)

It cannot be good for that house we photographed to have its gutters full of Virginia Creeper. The problem is that people do not keep it under control and it is so rampant. It may not dig out mortar and pull away stone, but it is quite capable of lifting tiles and hiding rotting wood.

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