The Rhododendron problem

The beautiful flowers of Rhododendron ponticum disguise a real killer. Rhododendron outcompetes most native species and spreads rapidly. It destroys habitats, and so drives out whole colonies of native plants and animals. More information on this invasive shrub is available here.

When I bought the wood in late 2011, Rhododendron ponticum was spreading inwards from the edges of the wood. Without intervention it would, within a few years, have covered the entire area. Control of rhododendron is not easy. Bushes can be cut down but new growth will quickly appear from the stump or by vegetative growth from neighbouring plants. Seeds in the ground will continue to germinate if given the chance. The most effective approach for Sable Wood has been to completely remove the whole plant including the stump. Because the shrub is relatively shallow-rooted it has been possible to do this manually with a mattock and, if necessary, a crowbar. The leaves and branches do not make good compost and in most cases I turn the waste material into dead hedging that provides habitat and transit corridors for wildlife. Annual patrols will be carried out to remove new growth trying to make a comeback.