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January 20, 2018

Stu Hawbaker: The woes of invasive ivy

Neighbors who live in my subdivision tell me that my house was one of the last houses built in the neighborhood. I suspect it was, because the lot is not the most attractive. It slopes down to bottom land and a creek a few hundred feet away. It is full of trees, some 30 of them, that are way too close together. That means they are very tall and skinny. All parts of the lot behind the house are mostly shaded by the trees and one section behind the garage is very steep. So it is almost impossible to grow anything in this area, especially the steep part.

Years ago, I decided to plant a ground cover in that area to control erosion and provide some type of cover that I did not have to mow or maintain. I selected English Ivy and it gradually covered the steep area behind the garage. What I did not know was that not only does it cover the ground but it also climbs trees. Now, it has not only completely covered the trunks of three or four of my trees, but also a couple of the neighbors’ trees. It attaches itself to the tree trunks and grows up 50 feet or so. It crowds out most other plants under the trees, except poison ivy, which I continually keep on the lookout for. Maggie likes to romp through this area and hunt for voles and other critters and occasionally gets some poison ivy oil on her whiskers that she then shares with me. You can see why I try to keep the poison ivy under control.

Many people have asked me what kind of a ground cover they can plant in areas similar to my spot behind the garage. I used to recommend English Ivy, until I found out it is a climber. Now many landscapers do not suggest it because it is so invasive. I wish I knew about that 30 years ago. Now, more people want to know how to get rid of it, rather than planting it.

I did some searching for ground covers on the Internet and found some excellent ideas at www.hgtvgardens.com where they list some 300 different ground covers that do well in shady areas. Some you might want to consider are: common periwinkle, lily of the valley, pachysandra, Algerian Ivy (variegated) or bugleweed. Check out this site where you can select based on your specific location in sun or shade and other variables. Also, I suggest you look at the U of I page at http://urbanext.illinois.edu/hort where you will find all kinds of horticultural information. You can also check with your local U of I Extension office or master gardener for help with your horticultural questions. In addition, you might even be interested in becoming a master gardener. You can find details about that program on the same web page above.

Now is the time to:

  • Read a good book
  • Start your annual diet 
  • But finish your Christmas candy first

Call of the Week:

Q: When are you supposed to mulch perennial flower beds?

A: Normally you do not need to do that until the ground freezes. You can also mulch around rose bushes at the same time.

Stuart Hawbaker can be reached at jmatherly@herald-review.com.

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Stu Hawbaker: The woes of invasive ivy

Matt Argall Explores the Prospects of Greeting Cards Industry

MIAMI, FL–(Marketwired – Mar 25, 2014) – “What do you get when you cross poison ivy with a four-leaf clover? A rash of good luck.” These, or other more traditional jokes, wishes or sayings are printed on millions of St. Patrick’s Day cards that people sent and received all over the country on March 17th this year. St. Patrick’s Day, or “Lá Fhéile Pádraig”, as the Irish call it, is a cultural and religious holiday that commemorates the death date of Saint Patrick, the patron of Ireland, who lived from AD 385-461. Saint Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian holiday at the beginning of the seventeenth century to celebrate the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. It is a celebration of the Irish heritage and culture in general and by no means restricted to Ireland. Irish and non-Irish people all over the world dress in green, party and send out greeting cards to their Gaelic and not-so-Gaelic friends.

On average, this amounts to approximately 7 million St. Patrick’s Day cards every year. And compared to Christmas, this number is not even that impressive: Each December the USPS delivers around 1.6 billion merry wishes all over the U.S. The tradition of sending greeting cards is even older than Saint Patrick — it can be traced back to the ancient Chinese, who exchanged messages to celebrate the New Year, and to the early Egyptians, who conveyed their greetings on papyrus scrolls. Europeans started to exchange handmade paper greeting cards around 1400 and by the 1850s they had become a popular and affordable means of personal communication, mainly due to the advances in the printing technology. Louis Prang, a German immigrant, started the greeting card industry in America with his small lithographic business near Boston in 1856. Today, Americans purchase approximately 6.5 billion cards every year, making it a profitable market that Matt Argall, an avid entrepreneur, is now looking to venture into.

While printing techniques have changed over the centuries, cards are available in a multitude of different paper types and the sentiments got a more modern twist to them, the basic idea of a greeting card is still the same: Expressing friendly wishes to somebody we care about. Businessman Matt Argall has been watching the greeting card industry as a possible new business venture, and with retail sales summing up to roughly $8 billion every year, it is not hard to understand why. Despite the increase in electronic greeting cards, the popularity of paper cards has not faded. Some marketers even say, especially younger generations, who spend a lot of time during their work and free time in front of the computer, value traditional cards and continue to buy them.

Matt Argall worked for the Human Rights Commission, where he learned a great deal about marketing. In his position as treasurer and later president of the group, he was in close contact with people making donations to his human rights cause, most of which were from marketing companies’ owners. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, Matt seized the opportunity to learn from their experience. He went on to start his first own company with over 100 employees in the gas and electricity industry, followed by other businesses in a variety of trades. Matt Argall never restricts himself to one branch. He watches the markets, always ready to jump onto new opportunities. Most recently he has been analyzing the greeting card industry. We wish him a rash of good luck!

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Matt Argall Explores the Prospects of Greeting Cards Industry

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