Tales from the Walled Garden

Suffering with Box Blight?

Whilst we love our jobs and enjoy being outside tending to plants and flowers, there can be some frustrating times. Perhaps when a plant, shrub or seed doesn’t take to a particular soil and the growth isn’t as exceptional as hoped, or when a plant is attacked by a pest or disease.

A frequent comment from visitors after visiting the Peacock Garden is “Oh I see you have box blight?”

What we reply with, is that we ‘have’ suffered from Box Blight but the suffering isn’t continuing because of our gardening actions and rescue at the beginning of the year.

Currently, the box bushes (Buxus sempervirens) within the Peacock Garden and on the snorting Dragon have areas of dead branches but what you will also see is areas of light green (almost lime) coloured growth – which is a very good sign.

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Picture taken 18/03/2016

Treatment for Box Blight

Box blight is a fungal attack from 2 different types of fungi: Cylindrocladium buxicola and Pseudonectria buxi. The fungal spores are most active during rainy seasons and can lie dormant in soil for up to 6 years.

Buxus sempervirens is also quite a hungry plant and therefore needs good nutrition to maintain its condition – pretty much like ourselves!

This year, there has been an environmental change within the Peacock garden; over the winter a large conifer tree was removed from within the confines and its stump remains and is clearly visible. A a number of large Portuguese laurel shrubs were also removed from within the wedding border to the south of the garden and the other side of the yew hedge. This has meant that the garden has more light and hopefully a better air circulation.

In October 2015, the box hedge was fed with Vitax Q4 – a balanced fertiliser. This was done to assist the plants over the winter and give them a bit of a head start towards spring. In late March / April 2016 we started to foliar feed the plants by spraying them with a product called ‘Maxicrop’ this is a seaweed extract combined with tomato fertiliser. Plants are able to take up nutrients through the stomata in their leaves and foliar feeding can be a plant version of ‘intravenous feeding’. This means that the plants are able to take in the nutrients quicker than through conventional watering. Hopefully this again allows the plants a ‘leg up’ into the growing year.

Feeding continued through the spring.

Come the magic date of ‘Derby Day’ the 6th June, when we can be confident that we will not suffer any more frost we started to cut the box hedging. A light touch as opposed to a heavy hair cut ! the object is not to stress the plants too much to allow them to grow back and thicken out and fill some of the blanks left by previous blight attacks.

You will see that the large square blocks with the box pillars, and the triangular sections are each corner of the garden have been cut with a batter (slope) to the inside edges. These parts of the garden have suffered the most and by cutting the slope (Batter) into the inside edges again allow more light and air into the plants and assist the plants to regrow. This you can see by the light green growth that is coming back.

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Photo taken 24/06/2016

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Photo taken 29/07/2016

The plants have also been sprayed twice with a fungicide ‘Bayer fungus fighter’ which is listed as being affective against box blight. We will continue to spray later in the year when there is a likelihood of damper and more humid conditions.

Hopefully with fingers crossed the object is to ensure that the box is kept in a good nutritional state through feeding and watering. It is not stressed by heavy cutting and has good light and air circulation. By keeping the plants as healthy as possible we hope that they will be better equipped to fend off pests and disease.

To answer the question. No we don’t have box blight at the moment we might have an attack later in the year but hopefully through good practice and maintaining the plants in as good a condition as possible we hope to minimise the effects of a blight attack.

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