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Rhododendron replacement?

The garden is 10 m wide and 44 m long. It’s quite a woodland garden with several trees, including an oak but no conifers.
A feature of the garden is a block of 3 or 4 Ponticum (wild) rhododendrons. At the moment they are pretty much 3 m high, 3 m wide and 3 m deep. I have to cut them back to waist height every six years or so or else they’ll take over.   They enhance the woodlandy feel, and are a haven for small birds.   The problem is that I’m not getting any younger.

I’ll cut them down this year again, but the next time it’s due I’ll be 80 and might not be quite as able.  So, my question is: should I dig them up this year and replace them with hybrid rhododendrons? Will I lose that woodland look if I do?  And do you have any suggestions, please?


  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,353
    I'd definitely try and get rid of them. They've become such a hideously invasive plant up here, to the point where other native plants are struggling due to the onslaught, and it costs a fortune to try and  keep on top of it in many areas where they're rampant  :(

    Almost any other rhodo is an improvement. One which grows fairly rapidly is Cunningham's White. While that could be a problem in a small domestic garden, it should be ideal for your situation. It's a good, tough shrub   :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • ButtercupdaysButtercupdays Posts: 4,497
    If you are able to dig them out , or get some one to help you I would go for it. Ponticums have very dark foliage and their pollen is poisonous to bees. They also grow very large and fast, as you say. 
    I have a similar woodlandy part of my garden and I have a mix of different rhodies plus azaleas both evergreen and deciduous. Some are larger than others but the mix is really pretty, the light foliage of the azaleas helps and gives more colours to choose from, and you can extend the flowering a bit with earlier or later flowers. Some of mine are due a cut back but they have not needed it on a regular basis and most have been many years without.
    Carefully chosen you could have one or two more, but smaller plants. You could also add a little Acer, a camellia  or some ferns if you wanted. 
    I think it would be a gain rather than a loss. Even though new plants are small, it is exciting looking forward to those first flowers and they would soon gain size. Your woodland would be more interesting and give you more pleasure and less worry :)
  • Thanks, Buttercupdays.  This feels like a now-or-never decision so I need all the advice I can get. 
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,353
    @Catherine-25 -  I can see that you've PMd me but I can't open them just now. Sorry  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
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