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Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The House-Eating Rhododendron


It all started innocently enough, just a couple of pretty little shrubs by the side of the house  that would provide evergreen foliage and pretty pink spring blooms. 

The  home owner paid no attention to the tag on the plants.  Who does really?  Slowly, ever so quietly, the rhododendrons crept up on the house and before any one could suspect...


They totally consumed the structure.

They even invited a friend to share in the meal.  I kept my distance because the sound of  rhododendrons munching on house was deafening and frankly I was a little frightened that I'd be part of the feeding frenzy.
 
Driving away, I swear I heard the sound of a giant burp!  Pretty, brutal, and rude!  It's probably best to heed the warnings on plant tags or be prepared to either have our dwellings  eaten or  have a chainsaw relationship with our plants. 
 
Happy Monday and remember to practice safe planting!

38 comments:

  1. This is Andrews greatest fear. Pointing to a neighbors lot who's house has practically disappeared he asked "is ours going to look like that one day?"...

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    1. I can see it now, that beautiful chocolate house totally taken over by spiky and thorny plants like the rose in your front yard. It'll be sort of like the scene in Sleeping Beauty:
      [Maleficent is trying to stop Prince Phillip from reaching King Stefan's castle]

      Maleficent: A forest of thorns shall be his tomb! Borne through the skies on a fog of doom! Now go with the curse, and serve me well! 'Round Stefan's Castle, CAST MY SPELL!

      [Dark, towering clouds appear over the castle followed by lightning strikes. Huge thorns as thick as weeds burst out of the ground around the castle, cutting off Prince Phillip]

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  2. It is pretty and much nicer than that creepy stalker the weeping atlas cedar.

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    1. You've a good point! It sort of lulls you into thinking that it's just a pretty and harmless little flower and then bam, it strikes. At least poor weeping atlas cedar is honest about his intentions.

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  3. Wow! I am almost speechless. That is crazy.

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    1. Fun right? In someone else's yard that is.

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  4. The Rhodys at Joy Creek were like that before Mike got out his loppers and limbed them up into their present, graceful shapes. One should never by shy about beating devouring shrubs into submission.

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    1. Mike said that he also moved some rhodies away from the house, too. Beating shrubs into submission doesn't sound like a really fun activity but to each his own, I guess.

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  5. Did plant tags always come with size indications? Of course, even size indications only give a clue at the ten year mark. Those are clearly older than ten years. They could be limbed up past the windows.

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    1. Of course not. These were probably cuttings of someone else's rhodies that were planted shortly after the house was built. Unfortunately rhododendrons get a bad rap here because many of the inexpensive and fast growing ones are planted beneath windows by developers to get a quick result & sell a property so lots of people in this area are familliar with big windows looking at the insides of bushes.

      These could also be cut to the ground, they'd come back and could be maintained as small bushes. I guess the point is that it's a good idea to plant really gorgeous huge shrubs where they can be what they want to be and live out their full potential.

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  6. Those are some really stunning specimens. Having her house eaten by rhododendrons and wisterias is one of my mom's greatest fears. She somehow dislikes both plants, and both thrive in the mild, wet corner of southwestern Germany where we lived for many years. I think she is quite glad to be largely away from them in Michigan.

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    1. They are beautiful and I look forward to seeing them bloom every year! Wisteria and huge rhododendrons are both gorgeous plants but Wisteria especially needs qite a bit of space or someone who likes to be cutting them back all of the time.

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  7. I have several gardening rules that I rarely live by, just quote, and one of them is to never plant a plant too large for its location. That's the problem, too large in 10 years, 20, 50? Fortunately, rhody's are forgiving when you prune them, and these could definitely use some - pruning that is...burp?

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    1. I'm with you! I plant things way to close to each other and to structures and if I didn't spend lots of time in the garden cutting, pruning, thinning, etc. the house would be enveloped in a matter of months. These rhododendrons have become such an attraction in their current state that they'll probably tear down the house before they trim back the shrubs!

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  8. That's a very pretty and pink triffid eating the house Peter!

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    1. The pretty ones always catch one off guard!

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  9. I love these Rhododendrons, so beautiful even though they are out of scale with the house, I guess the owners love them too much to get rid of them. Imagine the house without the rhods!

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    1. At his point, the Rhododendrons define the place. They are beautiful!

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  10. Lovely shots, can imagine this house with a white picket fence, planted with roses and flowers.

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    1. Oh yes and maybe painted a different color.

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  11. That is hilarious. Reminds me of the kite-eating tree from Charlie Brown. A beautiful shrub in the wrong place. Rhodos here tend to need a lot of coddling and waste away after a few years.

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    1. Rhododendrons love growing here and last (some of them) for a hundred years or more. Are you moving west yet?

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  12. haha! Still, what a magnificent display! Although they are certainly eating away at the house, I'm not sure I'd have the heart, either, to cut them down and plant something else. I think they should just add on to the house instead! ;)

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    1. A perfect solution you've come up with! They really are breathtig when they bloom!

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  13. I love the complete lack of proportion there. It's perfect just as it is, if only the house was painted that same pink, it would look quite deliberate.

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  14. I fear my Accacia is heading this way...

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    1. Oh that gorgeous thing? It would never think of doing something like that:)

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  15. I guess Rhodies have to eat too, huh ;-)

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    1. This is what happens when you stop giving them fertilizer; they take matters into their own hands and find alternate food sources!

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  16. I'm not sure if this is better or worse than pruning them down so you can see out your windows. I had six planted in front of my house, six inches from the foundation. They looked like caged beasts. This is better (and hilarious).

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    1. I'd like a house made of concrete or metal so that I wouldn't have to worry about rotting siding or roof issues. Then I'd plant all kinds of giant plants around so that only a door was visible. It would be like living in a tree sort of.

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  17. That is amazing!! If you're going to be devoured, what a way to go! Those rhodies are gorgeous. I'd keep them just the way they are. Serious! It's almost like an art installation. :o)

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    1. They are beautiful and everyone in the area knows the house with the huge rhododendrons!

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  18. My Wisteria vine tried to eat our deck. I've seen a trumpet vine actually eat the whole roof of a house. It was very pretty, though. I think to get rid of it they had to replace the whole roof. I think you're right, the yellow doesn't go well with the pink, it needs purple, pink, or red...

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  19. Oh no.... This is exactly what I am afraid of. I just bought a house and the previous owner planted several rhododendrons around it, and they are BIG & GETTING BIGGER!!!!!

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    1. The good news is that rhododendrons can take heavy pruning (like to the ground) and still come back so you can keep them at a size you'd like.

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Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I love to hear your thoughts.