Monarch hair plugs for men + “English Ivy Kills Trees”

A lot going on in the world since I last checked in. My husband of two decades, Ben Gillum, celebrated five years of cancer remission in January. ūüĎĮ¬†¬†As you can imagine, I am filled with the deepest gratitude to all the medical professionals and researchers who saved Ben’s life. Here’s a picture I took of Ben last fall¬†with one of my monarch babies on his noggin. How’s this for a hair plug?:

Ben with monarch

Ben Gillum
Keller-Williams Realty Professional
Asheville, NC

Ben‘s a real estate professional with Keller-Williams here in Asheville. If you’re looking to buy or sell a home in Western North Carolina, give him a call (828-989-2815). Shout-out to my sweet potato!

Someone asked me recently if the Botanical Gardens is responsible for the “English Ivy Kills Trees” signs that have popped up all over Asheville. Ha! Guerrilla marketing campaigns are not our style. However, as the spokeswoman of, I certainly approve of this¬†effort to educate the public about ¬†English ivy.

The introduction of non-native English ivy¬†has resulted in so much¬†damage in our yards and countrysides, crowding out native plants and, yes, killing trees. It twines¬†up trees damaging bark and making the tree more susceptible to rot and disease. It weighs down the branches and shades out a tree’s leaves from the sun.

Flying monarch

Winter is a great time to tackle English Ivy.

For one thing, you’re less likely to get into poison ivy in the winter, but wear gloves, anyway. The poison ivy is still out there, and English ivy gives some people contact dermatitis. Below is a tree that I’m adopting¬†for ivy removal. After reading up on ivy removal at the city of Portland’s NO IVY LEAGUE website, I’ve learned the best way to tackle this beast. the site even has a¬†nice brief video on the topic — visit them online¬†here.

I’m not going to reinvent the wheel when you can look on their site to learn the details on proper ivy erradication. However, I will give you a brief synopsis:¬†don’t pull the vines from the tree!¬†Ivy cements itself to the trunk and pulling it off can damage the bark and harm the tree. Instead, girdle the ivy by cutting it at the bottom of the trunk and a point three feet above the bottom cut. Then, around the bottom, create a “lifesaver,” by pulling all the ivy roots within a three-foot circle all the way around the trunk of the tree. It’s a very satisfying and gratifying task to save a tree. Until next time, cheers!

Ivy taking over trees


About MonarchLover

Heather Rayburn is a native of Asheville, NC., and works at the Botanical Gardens at Asheville, a non-profit 10-acre public garden dedicated to the promotion of plants native to the Southern Appalachians. She has a B.A. from UNC-Asheville and a M.S. from the University of Tennessee, both in Mass Communication with a focus on environmental issues and social justice. She's also a dog lover and baker.

5 comments on “Monarch hair plugs for men + “English Ivy Kills Trees”

  1. Thank you for the tips on how to remove ivy from trees. I had been doing that but just cutting it at the bottom of the tree and thinking it would need the same treatment next year.

    I have a question, though, since I do have a lot of ivy covering the ground under the canopy of some trees, what could be easily and inexpensively planted there (in Asheville) once the ivy is removed?

    Also, is vinca minor (periwinkle) also considered invasive? Or pachysandra?

  2. Thank you for this elucidating post! I love trees, Monarchs and the fact that your Ben has been in cancer remission for five years….truly something to celebrate!
    I shall take a look around my backyard to see if I can spot any of the insidious ivy that has been highlighted in this article. I was previously unaware that English Ivy could kill trees. With so much development going on everywhere and the destruction of our trees, we truly cannot afford losing any more of them…to buildings, disease or ivy!

    Thank you so much. I look forward to your next report.

    • Hi Gloria — Thanks for the kind words. In trying to figure out how my comment section notification works, I realized that you left a question on a previous blog post, and I failed to answer it. Sorry about that. The question: “Do you have any recommendations on how to prevent fungal infections and how to treat milkweed that has been attacked by a fungus? To be more specific, the leaves began to yellow and dark spots began to appear on the stems.”

      I asked Jay, BGA garden manager, and he said that’s fungal wilt, and there’s nothing to be done about it. Some people might recommend tackling it with a fungicide, but Jay tells people to never, ever use fungicides. The are some of the most dangerous agriculture chemicals in existence due to their toxicity.

      What I recommend at the end of the season, if you might run out of milkweed for the caterpillars … call the local NC Extension Service office and see if they can put out a call to their Master Gardener volunteers for fresh milkweed. You can give me a holler as well.

      • Thank you, Heather! I have made it a point to never use any chemicals on my certified wildlife habitat. I hope that many people have the opportunity to read your post so that they too will know just how dangerous the fungicides are.
        I did not have one Monarch visiting my milkweed last year so I actually had plenty. However, if I am ever in a situation of being close to running out, I shall know where to go! Your knowledge is incredible. Thank you for your wonderful site and your thoughtful and very helpful responses!

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