Wednesday 5 October 2011
There is a lot happening on Rhododendron Hill. There is concern about the spread of Phytophthora ramorum, or sudden oak death, in Northern Ireland. This is a fungus-like organism closely related to the organism that causes potato blight. In the UK it is found most commonly on shrubs such as Rhododendron, Viburnum and Camellia and Larch trees. Luckily there is no sign of it at Mount Stewart.
Obviously everything is closely monitored and one of the things that Ian Marshall (Lead Gardener) is doing to help prevent the spread, if it does ever hit Mount Stewart, is to cut away the bottom two feet of foliage and remove leaf litter from all the rhododendrons on Rhododendron Hill. This is a high priority and a lot of volunteers have been helping Ian with this massive task in this very wide area. This is what some of us were doing today, very different from our usual jobs and very rewarding when we saw the piles of foliage we had dealt with.