A house smothered from top to bottom in so much ivy that only the chimney was visible has been given a new lease of life after receiving a massive haircut.
The detached three-bedroom property in Chelmsford, Essex was put up for sale last year and would normally have fetched £350,000, but the ivy coverage meant agents were asking for offers of over £120,000.
The home's previous owner had left the ivy untouched for 20 years, allowing it to cover the whole property - including all the windows.
Unchecked, it had even penetrated inside the house. All passers-by could see was a mass of leaves and - if you peered - the shape of a house.
The unusual sight even caused drivers to pull over and take pictures, but neighbours fumed that the creeper-clad building was dragging house prices down.
The house has now been sold, and its new owner Neil Utley, 49, revealed that it took a team of workmen more than a week to strip all the ivy from the house - and another seven days to shred it all.
He is now spending tens of thousands of pounds renovating 'Ivy House' to make it into a home for a member of his family.
Mr Utley said: 'I think the neighbours are pleased now that the ivy is all gone.
'There was so much of the stuff that we were using it in all our Christmas decorations this year.
'Thankfully the ivy was mainly cosmetic, but whoever bought the house was taking a risk because it was not clear how much damage it had done to the walls.'
Mr Utley, an insurance company chairman, was gobsmacked when his builder showed him pictures of the property which he was proposing to renovate.
He said: 'I could not even see the house - just a house shape underneath the ivy. When we went to see it the owner would not let us in, so I was taking a bit of a gamble buying it.
'There was as much ivy on the inside as well as the outside so the house was completely dark - there were no lights and there was no power.'
The state of Ivy House meant Mr Utley was in line for a bargain, and he snapped it up for less than £200,000 - a third less than other homes in the popular street in the Essex commuter town.
However, the long list of improvements needed include fitting a new kitchen, new electrics and redecorating throughout.
Neighbours have welcomed the sale and the property's change of appearance.
One woman, who asked not to be named, said: 'We had been asking the previous owner for years to sort out the ivy, but he was not fussed.
'We even called the council out to see what could be done but were told there was nothing in their powers because it was not dangerous.
'It may have looked amusing for people driving past, but we had to live near it for years and it really did spoil the feel of the street - it looked like an old derelict, haunted property.'
Though a small amount of ivy might look picturesque and come in handy for Christmas, the creeper can cause serious damage to bricks, mortar and stucco-plastered walls.
So persistent are its roots that they can actually penetrate old or weakened building materials and break up the walls of a house.
The plant can be difficult to remove, and walls stripped of ivy often require re-painting or restoration for structural and waterproofing problems.
The Royal Horticultural Society recommends judicious control of ivy - including aggressive pruning - so that it remains an attractive asset rather than a pest.