Did you know there are plants on a ‘kill list’, the dreaded rhododendron is one of them. There is no doubt it is beautiful, but like many plants, it’s beauty can distract us from it’s mission. The rhododendron is an invader.
You will have seen a lot of rhododendron in our woodland, it has attractive purple flowers and luscious green leaves. They can grow to 10m high, producing dense thickets. Where possible we use it to make borders for our nooks, but what’s going on under the ground is the real problem. Their roots produce a mix of toxic chemicals that kill any plants in the area. As rhododendron are not native, they can devastate a huge area with alarming speed.
Once they have rooted themselves, they are surprisingly hard to remove. Any tiny amount of root that remains can re-grow. Even when they are successfully removed, the soil will take many years to recover. One of the chemicals they leave is cyanide… Not only do they take over valuable space, but they fail to provide important shelter, food or value to wildlife. A double disappointment.
The dreaded rhododendron isn’t the only woodland invader, other non-native plants love to make their home in British woodlands. Japanese knotweed and Bamboo are surprisingly common, fast growing, problems. Luckily these are not a problem at Granville’s Wood. Part of our regular checks are to watch for invasive plants, and unwelcome pests, you can read more about that here.
Our social media accounts have been talking about the importance of conscious planting at the woods recently. Making sure we know where plants are sourced and grown is part of our responsibilities. Working with our families we have been raising awareness of these issues, and listening to their needs too.
Many of us will have a strong link between a specific plant or flower and our loved ones. Special memories can be evoked by a scent or a colour and flowers are a powerful way to remember. As always, we try to accommodate all requests, within the bounds of our Rules and Regulations. Therefore, we are trialling planters. These keep a ‘foreign’ plant away from the earth itself, but allow for a special memorial plant. Clearly, we need to remain aware of the impact that any addition to the woods might have but so far, this is working well.
One of the most beautiful aspects of woodlands are the wildflowers within. Many of our families like to plant bulbs, however, these are a huge problem if unrestricted. We have a post just about bluebells! Having done some extensive checking, we have now sourced UK grown woodland wildflowers via an excellent charity Habitat Aid. We are now able to offer buying bulbs via Woodland Burial Company that can be planted by us, or you. The open season for ordering is not until August, so we have a list of the options and a spreadsheet of interest – which we will update nearer the time.
There are so many elements of managing a thriving, native woodland. Sharing them with you is part of our mission to support learning and love for the world around us. If you have any burning questions about the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of anything we do, just ask. Being transparent in our work is key, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.