Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

KNOCKOUT BLOWS FOR BOX; This Adaptable Shrub May Be out for the Count in Many Gardens Due to Disease Such as Blight

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

KNOCKOUT BLOWS FOR BOX; This Adaptable Shrub May Be out for the Count in Many Gardens Due to Disease Such as Blight

Article excerpt

Byline: YOUR GARDEN With Diarmuid Gavin

BOX is a versatile and useful shrub, used liberally in gardens old and new throughout the world. I grow it at home and plant it in almost every project I design.

It makes a crisp edging for flower beds and wonderful parterre or knot garden.

It manages to be both omnipresent and posh at the same time, adorning stately homes where it's often manipulated into formal mini hedges or sometimes humorous topiary shapes.

More recently there's been a trend for pruning hedges into beautiful cloud-like formations.

I use box in the form of topiary mounds which I love to dot through plots to create sculptural interest.

It looks particularly good in winter when herbaceous plants have faded.

In my front garden they form the central cone of daisy-shaped paving.

Twice a year they need clipping with some shears to keep a crisp appearance and that's about it maintenance wise - until now!

To my dismay I noticed a few of them starting to look very unhappy with the foliage crisping up. My immediate concern was that they had been struck down with the dreaded box blight.

This is a fungal disease causing untold damage to box stock throughout the country and it is hard to cure. The foliage and stems die back leaving unsightly patches of brown twigs. Infected stock needs to be cut out and the plant removed.

There are preventative measures such as spraying with fungicides but this would need to be done regularly over the growing season and prevention isn't guaranteed.

Avoid clipping box in wet weather as this can spread fungal spores and don't overfeed with the likes of nitrogen as this creates too much lush foliage which causes a humid environment in which fungi thrive.

White-out: Diarmuid's On closer inspection of my shrubs, the leaves were still on the plant but bleached white of colour.

This could be a form of blight which thankfully is not fatal - it's called Volutella. Like other diseases, it often strikes when the plant is under stress and given the complete lack of rainfall over the last few months combined with severe winter temperatures beforehand, it's no surprise they succumbed. …

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