Cut It Down

As a teenager, I would occasionally get a massive zit between my eyes that would ooze and crust over when I tried to pop it.  And no amount of makeup or futzing with my bangs could make it disappear.  It was the focal point on my face and I felt self conscious and miserable.  I winced whenever anyone commented on it.  

This rhododendron in our front yard has made me feel the same exact way for three years.  

My Pirate wanted to rip out the rhododendron the moment we moved into our house.  He was right.  
Our front yard in 2006, when we moved in.
I chose to keep it because I thought that it would help give our yard continuity with our neighbors.  Ha!  Like I worry about that now.  Our next door neighbors have gorgeous rhododendrons in their yard that I not so secretly covet.  Our neighbor even came over and trimmed our rhododendron one year to try and help it look better.  But it didn't help.

One example of our next door neighbors' gorgeous rhododendrons.
When a neighbor tore out a large fir tree, our rhododendron got sicker and I thought that it was sunburned, like all the other shade plants that I had to move. So, I gave it more water and compost.

Then last year, I noticed white insects and insect damage on the underside of the leaves.  With a little sleuthing I diagnosed them as azalea lace bugs.  I took a sample to Rob at Shorty's to confirm it, which he did, and he helped me pick out an insecticide.  I sprayed my rhododendrons twice last season.  And it still looked awful.

I hate to use chemicals in the garden because I treasure the tree frogs and other wildlife in our garden.  So, I made the difficult decision to rip out our sick rhodies.  Last week we ripped out three red rhododendrons in the backyard by the hammock.  

Yesterday, I plugged in the electric chainsaw and cut down the big rhododendron in ten minutes.  My Pirate happily helped.  Just look at that smile! And I feel much better too.
I'm going to redesign and replant our flower beds by the house.  Time to go plant shopping!  If you have any suggestions and ideas, please let me know.


Helpful links on Rhododendron and Azalea lace bugs
Kym Pykorny's recent article on lace bugs
WSU Master Gardener Hortsense--Azalea Lace Bug
WSU Master Gardener Rhododendron Lace-Bug article