The famous Ladysmith rhododendron “Lady Cynthia” before it was damaged by a wind storm in December. (Facebook/Marcy Horswill).

Still hope for famous Ladysmith rhododendron after wind storm

Shrub ‘Lady Cynthia’ badly damaged during December wind storm

It took over 100 years to grow and only one wind storm to damage.

A towering rhododendron stood for more than a century in Ladysmith until a December wind storm blew through the community, knocking out power and destroying two of the shrub’s three main branches.

The plant – famous to visitors and locals – is known lovingly as “Lady Cynthia.” Its mass of thick leaves in fall and winter transform to fuchsia blooms come spring.

The shrub was so big (more than 40 feet in width and height) that it could be seen from the Ladysmith waterfront.

‘Lady Cynthia’ can be saved, say experts. But it will be a long time before the shrub is back to its former glory as a Ladysmith landmark. (Submitted/Peter Richmond)

Peter Richmond, the owner of the property where Lady Cynthia lives, only got to enjoy the full magnitude of the famous shrub for a year.

The wind storm was a “sad event,” he said.

“When it was in bloom it was a stunning spectacle to see,” he added. “It was a nice tree to stand under.”

Richmond said numerous horticulturalists and members of rhododendron societies have visited his property to see what can be saved of the historic shrub.

They say it should live, he said. “We have to cut all the weight off of it, it’ll need to be trimmed back significantly.”

Camosun College horticulture instructor Dale Toronitz said rhododendrons are hardy but don’t tolerate extreme wind exposure well.

“[Wind] can be an issue when they get really large and old and have a bigger canopy and catch more wind,” he said. “That was an unusual wind and it could have been the direction of it. You can’t really guard too much against the wind with [rhododendrons].”

Toronitz agreed the owners can save the ancient shrub by trimming it back to the remaining stumps.

They could also grow new “rhodies” by weighting branches into the soil.

“Put mulch or soil over top and they will root in one or two years.”



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Follow Nina on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

TV star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Port Alberni Toy Run launches new fundraiser for 2020

Toy Run teddy bears will help replace funds lost due to COVID-19 changes

Missing Port Alberni man found deceased

47-year-old had been missing since late June: RCMP

Longtime volunteer retires from Port Alberni’s Abbeyfield House

Doreen Bissette honoured for two decades of volunteerism

Savard prevails with best gross score at Alberni Golf Club

Men’s club prepares for ‘waltz’ on July 12

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Vancouver Island business ad unintentionally features OK gesture linked to white supremacy

Innocuous ‘OK’ gesture in cleaning franchise advertisement gets flak on social media for ‘supposedly’ promoting white supremacy

Minivan driver’s speed a factor in fatal 2018 Malahat crash

Driver was travelling at 110 km/h in a construction zone

Comox Valley RCMP looking for missing woman

Ami Guthrie was last seen in Courtenay in early July

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Lower Mainland YouTubers claim to be Kelowna display toilet ‘poopers’

RCMP can not speak to legitimacy of video, will be investigating

Most Read