Requiem for a Rhododendron

wilted rhododendron
Twenty years ago, I planted this Rhododendron. I had little hope for her since her predecessors had failed to survive the summer for four years running. I planted this one in the fall instead of the spring, northern exposure, on a slope, perfect drainage, shade from the afternoon sun.
She took. Grew, flowered, thrived. I bragged, gloated, even.
Then, two years ago a storm took out the massive oak that provided afternoon shade to my Rhody. Last year I lost a major portion of her to disease I suspect was exacerbated by the stress of heat and sun. Rhodies just cannot take full sun in Birmingham. Yesterday I pruned out another third of her mass, dead limb by dead limb. I expect nothing good to come of this. Nearby trees are years away from providing any shade.
Today, I have spotted a six inch Rhododendron seedling nearby. There is some hope. Maybe I will live long enough to see this seedling grow, flower and thrive like her mother. I need to provide shade or move this youngster to a shadier spot. She has some big shoes to fill.


Mike Rushing

Mike and Paula Rushing have been gardening in St. Clair county since 1990, and In Forest Park since 2007. A Jefferson County Master Gardener and course instructor at Master Gardening classes, Mike also volunteers weekly at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

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