Farewell to the rhododendrons: Trees removed from Shibden

Deborah Comyn Platt in  Shibden Park.
Deborah Comyn Platt in Shibden Park.

SPRING will not be quite as colourful in Calderdale this year as rhododendrons are removed from Shibden Park.

The beautiful trees are susceptible to infection and already many have had to be removed from the Halifax park.

In 2010, 300 square metres of the shrub were cleared and burned.

Funding has now been granted to Calderdale Council to remove the remaining shrubs.

The rhododendron species is one of the main causes of the spread of Sudden Oak Death, a devastating fungal disease attacking trees and shrubs in many parts of Britain’s countryside.

Rhododendrons are very susceptible to infection, and unless they are removed, they will spread the disease and kill other trees and plants growing near them.

It is hoped the removal of the trees will prevent the return of Sudden Oak Death, which was first found in the UK in 2002.

The work, which is recommended by the government’s Food and Environment Research Agency, will be carried out over the next three months, and is funded by the Forestry Commission.

Trees will be removed from the woodlands and stream banks in Shibden Park, and also the woodland in Cunnery Wood on Shibden Hall Road.

Rhododendrons are not native to Britain.

The origins are uncertain, with some suggesting it arrived from Asia and others from Spain.

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet member for Communities, Coun Pauline Nash said: “The Shibden Estate is a popular and much-loved attraction. The trees and plants within the grounds add to the beauty of the picturesque landscape.

“Removing the destructive rhododendrons will help preserve this beauty for many generations to come, and we will see colourful native trees and plants beginning to flourish again.”

In 2010 the Courier reported a close eye was being kept on the Shibden trees after a rise in the spread of Sudden Oak Death.

For more information, please contact the Shibden Estate Manager on 01422 352246 or email deborah.comyn-platt@calderdale.gov.uk.