LETTER: Rhododendrons forever gone

The burning of 30-odd acres of Iping Commn (your report, March 15) was not the only mistreatment inflicted recently on that common. Nor the worst: as the Sussex Wildlife Trust, which manages the common, told you, the grass and heather will soon recover.

And at least the blaze was accidental, even if due to unusual stupidity.

Not so the massacre of the rhododendrons along the south of the common. It was wilful.

And not just for a year or two but never again will they offer a lovely Spring border of blossoms along that stretch of the Midhurst-Harting road, as their cousins on its other side soon will.

This vandalism – like the same, last year, around Minsted--was presumably due to the oft-repeated charge that the rhododendron is ‘non-native’ and ‘invasive’.

So it is. But sycamores are non-native.

Should we axe them too? So was the dearly-loved English elm.

As to ‘invasive’, rhodies do indeed spread (like most plants) and prevent other plants flourishing beneath them.

But what other plants?

The commonest woodland-floor plants are our ever-so-native ground elder and brambles (which, there, don’t even produce much fruit). Well, thanks.

Rhododendrons occupy a tiny proportion of British woodland, and, for a few weeks each year, make it truly beautiful. Why not let them do so?

Why, instead, practise a sort of eco-fascism against them?

I don’t use that word lightly: I remember seeing a pamphlet inviting volunteers to go “rhodie-bashing” - a policy approved of by, surprise, surprise, the National Front.

Stephen Hugh-Jones, East Harting