~ from cats, dogs and nature to the flowering of body, mind and spirit ~

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Rhod Warrior

We call him Max - The Rhod Warrior.
And he has a story ...

Max was gifted to us by my parents a year or two after we moved here. He was small but unique - not a 'traditional' bushy-type Rhododendron. We planted him in what we thought at the time was a protected yet visible corner of our property; he was nestled in the center of a ring of pine trees near the intersection of our street and the main road. We named him Max - in honor of Mad Max, The Road Warrior, who was also a unique loner - and he was very happy, growing and blooming each Spring. Until 2006.

The year of 2006 is when our town decided to conduct massive road construction along the outer edge of our property line where the main road runs and intersects our street. This was not a fun time. The road crew was noisy and cutting down these majestic pine trees along the right-of-way but there was nothing we could do about it so we practiced acceptance.

Until they hurt Max.

Since I work at home (homemaker, animal-mom, holistic care practitioner, writer, etc!), I kept an eye on the crew. I knew that they were working very near Max but figured he would be fine, secure in his circle of sentinels. So I went away for a few days to a workshop on flower essences, while Ron stayed home with the fur-kids. I was shocked to get a phone call from Ron that Max had been traumatized!

We have no idea why the crew didn't approach us - as it was blatantly obvious from the mulching around Max that he was a cultivated, cared-for plant - but apparently they were in a hurry and not only cut down and bull-dozed several of the magnificent pines on the corner but also ripped Max from the earth and tossed him callously aside into the woods!

Thankfully, Ron saw it all happen and rushed out to rescue Max! Poor Max had several primary limbs broken, plus other minor injuries, not to mention his energetic trauma. But Ron quickly and gently re-planted him in another spot -- still near our street but on our property that was not within the right-of-way -- gave Max a drink and asked me what else I thought he should do. So I had Ron make up a spray bottle to include some Emergency Essence and spritz Max several times a day. Max survived.

Today, three years later, Max continues to grow and bloom, unique and determined. He's a very handsome friend who is settled and content in his new location, providing early blossoms for the bees (there was one gathering nectar early this morning!), and he's a testimony to recovery from trauma.

We confess.
We're a little attached to our friend Max.
Our Rhod/Road Warrior.


  1. I'm glad for your sake, and his, that he has done well, though I have to be honest and say that I can't stand Rhodedendrons as they do so much damage to native flora. In the UK we have eradiction programs to get rid of them as they have been such a blight on the countryside. I do hope the bee will be OK because the nectar is poisonous. :-(

  2. Do you know why they damage or what kind of damage? Ours up here don't spread at all - they stay very much in their own little space and, since they like acid soils, they like all of our pine woods. From where did they originate, do you know? Would not the bees know that the nectar is not appropriate for them? Isn't that nature's way for the bees & birds to know what they can use or not? The bee didn't stay on the bloom very long, just touched down, poked inside, and then left so maybe I only thought the bee was getting nectar? I hope the bee is okay!!!!!

  3. They originate from China. They cause damage in two ways: their roots exude a toxic substance and the leaf cover is so dense that it blocks all light, therefore stopping other plants from growing. In their native environment they would have creatures that could make use of them, and survive on them, but outside of their area they are poisonous to mammals and invertebrates, thus, not only being of no use in the food chain, but a positive danger - were you on the hom list when my goats got poisoning from their leaves? If the bee only stayed in the flower for a short period of time, then it probably hadn't touched the nectar and was only sniffing, but as with any plant that an animal hasn't evolved with, it can take a long time for the animal/insect to know that the plant is toxic.

    An average bush will shed a million seeds per year and these can spread over several kilometres. The seedlings will be pretty invisible for the first three years of their lives and so difficult to spot and eradicate. Some of the modern hybrids are not as invasive but the advice in the UK is for people to remove the original "ponticum" variety from their gardens.

  4. Thanks so much for sharing that information, Kerry. I had no idea and in future we will look to getting indigenous plants for our property (which require a lot less upkeep as a personal bonus). The Rhodies don't spread at all where I live (and I've never heard of it happening to neighbors or friends); I would hazard a guess that our winters - or something about our climate - severely inhibit this aspect.

  5. It is perhaps a combination of your very cold winters and hot summers. In the UK they thrive so well because it is mild and damp: perfect conditions for them.


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