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Rhody Bashing on Brownsea

June 18, 2008

Rhododendron is hard to spell and even harder to pull up! Read on to find out if we managed to remove 40 years worth of rhododendron growth.

We had two days on Brownsea Island to try to remove as much of the rhododendron as we could. The island had been left largely untouched until about 40 years ago when conservation organisations such as the National Trust and the Dorset Wildlife Trust became involved with its management. Since then it has been an ongoing ‘battle’ against the highly invasive rhododendron and other non-native species.

The V-Team for this task was made up of Alison, Dan, Georgie, Jared, Kerry-Ann, Lisa and Lucie. There was also a new addition to the team – Sam, who would be with us for a couple of weeks.

Our day began at 9.15am, when we caught our boat, the ‘Castello’, from the little jetty at Sandbanks. Even though it was only a short journey across Poole Harbour, we were surprised at how rough the sea was. Poor Lisa was feeling quite sea-sick.

After a cup of tea (and some red squirrel watching) at the villa, we collected our tools and set off to the site we would be clearing. It was a really steep slope and hard to keep our balance, so we headed for the top of the hill where it was flatter and began our task.

    

 Time really flew and we soon had several large piles of up-rooted rhododendron. Everyone worked hard using saws and loppers. Jared had fun squashing down the larger piles and at one point Georgie pulled out a whole bush! But then she went a bit too far and managed to injure her ankle on a tree stump.

 The trip back was eventful too. Lucie and Lisa had decided to stand out on the deck to get some fresh air but they got a bit more than they bargained for, getting completely drenched by a huge wave! Luckily the rest of us were nice and dry in the cabin.

After the two days of hard work, we felt we had managed to clear quite a large area – only another 25 years until the rest of the rhododendron on the island is brought under control!

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