Capturing the world with Photography, Painting and Drawing

Day of the – Rhododendrons

When Rhododendron Bloom at the Vee 3

The Vee – County Tipperary

Arial shot of the Vee

The Vee in county Tipperary is one of Ireland most visited landscape locations. ‘The Vee’ refers to a V-shaped valley in the Knockmealdown mountains. Formed in the ice age the Vee itself is on the Sugar Loaf mountain , and forms a pass from Tipperary to Waterford between Knockaunabulloga (on which you will find Bay Lough) and the Sugar Loaf mountain.

The Vee is predominantly famous because of the breathtaking panoramic views afforded to travellers and sight seers going through the pass. The journey rises to about 2,000 feet (610m) above sea level above Bay Lough, and as it does so it gives wonderful views of a portion of the ‘Golden Vale’ between the Knockmealdown and Galtee Mountain Ranges.

On a clear day (or night) the Vee affords views along and across the valley to Clonmel, Cahir, Ardfinnan, Clogheen, Ballyporeen and even Cashel. You can also see the Galtee Mountains across the valley, the Comeragh Mountains along the valley and Slievenamon, behind Clonmel, quite clearly.

Each June however the entire area is covered in the bright pinks of Rhododendron flowers, I visited the area on Saturday just to photograph this event taking place, in the wild this plant is incredibly invasive and as you can see from these images has become the overwhelming feature the the entire area.

When Rhododendron Bloom at the Vee 6

Rhododendron ponticum, in Ireland

This web site decribes Rhododendrons as an invasive species and for good reason.

Habitat: Mixed deciduous forest. Temperate heaths. Raised and blanket bogs.

Description: This species was first introduced to parks, gardens, and demesnes in Britain and Ireland in the 1700’s. Rhododendron ponticum is readily recognised by its distinctive attractive flowers and large dark green coloured, oval leaves. It can grow quite tall with specimens regularly attaining 8 m.

When Rhododendron Bloom at the Vee 101

Origin and Distribution: The species is native to both Europe and Asia. It is believed that the current populations of Rhododendron in Ireland have been introduced from material taken from both the Iberian Peninsula populations and the Asian populations of this species. Rhododendron has a complex history.

Impacts: Rhododendron can from very dense thickets and out-compete native plants for space and resources, especially for sunlight. Other impacts on fish and invertebrate communities have been recorded. Rhododendron can also prevent access to sites by the shear mass of plant material blocking paths and right of way.

How did it get here? Natural dispersal by seed and vegetative means and planted by people.

Where is it found in Ireland? Planted in gardens, parks and demesnes.

Prevent Spread

Import only clean soil from known source
Ensure all vehicles and equipment are cleaned to avoid cross contamination.
Be aware of the threat of colonisation from upstream areas washing Japanese knotweed material downstream.
Promote native species and biodiversity – use alternative, native plants
Know what you are buying/growing and source native Irish seed and plants
Do not swap plants and cuttings
Clean plants before adding to ponds (dispose of water away from water courses)
Never collect plants from the wild
Safe disposal of plant material and growing media

In the aerial photograph above, the Rhododendrons show as the lighter green area in the middle of the image and rise the full hight of the mountain on the left of Bay Lough and follow the flow of the river that flows from the lough down the valley and into the woods below.

From a personal stand point, each June it is a wonderful site to see, many Tourists visit the area during this period just to take in the views it offers, however it is a little overwhelming to witness the extent this plant has taken over the mountains in this part of county Tipperary. When you take into account that it was only introduced in the 1700’s as a decorative plant into a local garden in the valley below.

Image Gallery

When Rhododendron Bloom at the Vee 101

When Rhododendron Bloom at the Vee 200

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When Rhododendron Bloom at the Vee 11

When Rhododendron Bloom at the Vee 102

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When Rhododendron Bloom at the Vee 7

When Rhododendron Bloom at the Vee 6

When Rhododendron Bloom at the Vee 5

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When Rhododendron Bloom at the Vee 100

When Rhododendron Bloom at the Vee 3

When Rhododendron Bloom at the Vee 2

When Rhododendron Bloom at the Vee 1

All images taken using a Nikon D7000
Irish landscape photography : Nigel Borrington
The Vee, County Tipperary

16 responses

  1. Vicki (from Victoria A Photography)

    So beautiful………(so who’s complaining about it being invasive? Looks gorgeous to me).

    June 17, 2013 at 11:42 am

    • Hello Vicki, 🙂

      Yes I think that’s write, It a wonderful thing to see and stand amongst. I do get why they feel they should do something to control them but each year comes an goes and they are still there.

      In the third image, you can see on the left how it has grown under the trees and could in the end kill them but for now they look OK.

      I think what will happen is that when the trees in this area get harvested they well take out all the Rhododendrons at the same time.

      June 17, 2013 at 11:53 am

  2. Wow, that is an impressive problem. I understand why people like the flowers, but ponticum does eventually take over entire valleys and hillsides at the expense of all other wildlife as you know. It’s a massive problem in N Wales too, and very costly to fix, but we must try otherwise the whole countryside will disappear under the stuff! Great photos as usual Nigel 🙂

    June 17, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    • Hello Mike

      I think that’s correct to, it’s one difficult problem to know what to do with – the cost would be very high and the tourists and local visitors in June would go made… but like you say so well its killing everything in sight.

      I think when the forestry people come and clear the trees they will get ride of everything, but it goes above the tree line and up to the hill tops. To me it look like it stays along side the river and maybe even uses the river to distribute its seeds….

      I think its a great example of the need for people to only plant in their gardens native plants that will only add to the local area if it spreads .

      June 17, 2013 at 1:39 pm

  3. Wow – those views are stunning! I can see why people flock to see the massive clouds of pink, so thick they look like heather on hillside. People go crazy for rhodies in the US. They are very common to plant in shady areas for (IMO too bright) spring color. Yes, plant only native plants or at least non-invasives! Must they clear the trees though? Can’t they just remove the rhodies?

    June 17, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    • Hello Sharon,

      Thank you, yes they are stunning to look at and I could not believe the height and mass of them.

      I think that’s spot on, local plants only please – Killing your local environment – Not cool!!!!!!

      The trees in the image are pine Sharon, they are not local just like the Rhodies, they are only planted for cash basically. I don’t think they will do anything about both until its time for the trees to come down – then they will not have to spend to much to clear the at different times. Money it always comes down to money !!!

      June 17, 2013 at 7:08 pm

  4. great photos, Nigel, and I have seen this problem all over the country,they really are like invading aliens! Glengarriff National Park was doing a lot of digging and chopping to try and get rid of them, but its very difficult. The Vee is very beautiful.

    June 17, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    • Hello Joan…

      Thank you, I have visited Glengarriff a couple of time and I do remember seeing them.

      I think a lot of the national forests are on old estate lands and the Rhododendrons probably were cleared but the seeds remained and just keep coming back. Forest management is all about the long term and they don’t come back and manage each one very week like you would your own garden, so they just take over again in no time at all!

      June 18, 2013 at 10:28 am

  5. Problematic beauty. Wowza. Great shots.

    June 17, 2013 at 8:57 pm

  6. Wow! So beautiful! We have beautiful lupines blooming around the countryside this time of year here.

    June 18, 2013 at 2:54 am

    • Hello Rene 🙂

      Thank you, would love to see them 🙂

      June 18, 2013 at 10:22 am

  7. Stunning views! The rhododendron’s are invasive little suckers aren’t they. Pity.

    June 18, 2013 at 11:41 am

  8. poppytump

    Rampant comes to mind 🙂
    They sure look large specimens Nigel even all they way down to the waters edge. Love the mountains.

    June 19, 2013 at 1:43 pm

  9. Hello, I am writing a non-commercial blog about the resurrection of my garden ( Would it be possible to use one of your nice pictures above of R. ponticum? Ofcourse I will share a link! Thanks and regards, Sietske

    April 20, 2015 at 9:16 am

    • Hello Sietske 🙂 🙂

      Yes that’s great – Love your great blog 🙂 🙂 🙂

      April 20, 2015 at 10:09 am

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