"When I first came here, I thought I was going to be able to wipe out the ivy," said Steve Price, Terwilliger Plaza groundskeeper. "But after a couple years, I realized that I'd be doing well if I could fight it to a standstill."
I asked whether the ivy did any good stabilizing the rock face. "See that triangular hole in the rock up there?" Steve pointed up at my mountainside. "A chunk of rock came out of that and smashed a car in the parking lot flat. That's when we put up the fence to protect residents and their cars. And it was ivy roots that pried that rock loose."
"Look up there," he said, pointing at the nearly vertical rock face between the parking lot and the street that winds by at the top of the cliff. "I had professional ivy-killers come in to try to kill the ivy up there. But the only way they could spray herbicide on that stuff at the top was to rappel down the rock face. We couldn't afford to pay them that much."
Steve fights the good fight as best he can, digging out roots where the slope permits, spraying herbicide carefully when weather permits, cutting finger-thick base stems and disentangling dependent vines, trying to keep Terwilliger trees free of the clinging marauder during spring and summer.
He is not above using propaganda to fight the good fight against English ivy. "Some of the residents thought the ivy was so pretty, they wanted to leave it alone. I got somebody from the Ivy Eradication Team to come in and do a presentation. That convinced them."
Steve is retiring in about a month, and Plaza residents who care about the grounds are very sorry to see him go. The English ivy is probably rubbing its leaves together in delight.