Wednesday 2 July 2014

Box Blight and Alternatives

Box is typically English and an extremely popular plant for creating hedging and topiary. With regular tight clipping, it can retain an almost perfect formality year after year in whatever shape you choose to clip it. It is however also susceptible to a number of pests and diseases, including the dreaded Box Blight caused by two fungi, Cylindrocladium buxicola and Volutella buxi, Box Blight is an airborne fungal disease that attacks the leaves and stems. If left untreated it can result in dieback and bare patches and can quickly spread to other Box plants nearby.

Box Blight is an airborne fungus; therefore the spread of spores are primarily through water droplets carried by the wind. However, because the spores are sticky, it is possible for Box Blight to be spread by birds, insects, people and in particular, garden tools. Once spread, more spores are produced and they can survive drought, are unaffected by frost and remain viable for extended periods of time. For example, spores are produced in the spring yet viable spores can still be found in decomposing leaves after almost a year.

It is very easy to miss the early stages of Box Blight; often the disease will not be detected until parts of the Box plant dies and you notice significant leaf fall in your garden.  However, there are a few symptoms to look out for. Early infection results in a general darkening of the leaves, which spreads until whole leaf is discoloured. By this time the fungus will have spread to the stem, resulting in dark lesions in the stem and the death of the leaf.

As a widespread, airborne fungal disease, there are no specific Box Blight fungicides on the market that have been proven to be effective. However, there are measures you can take to reduce the possibility of serious infection in your garden:
·         When buying Box plants from a garden centre or other commercial source, keep them in isolation for a minimum of three weeks before planting to ensure that any suppressed disease is discovered before it can affect existing, mature plants.
·         Avoid planting Box in damp, shaded, poorly ventilated areas as these are conditions Box Blight thrives in. Avoid overhead irrigation at all costs as spores are most commonly spread in water droplets.
·         Regularly clean your garden tools, in particular your clippers and shears to avoid the transfer of spores. You can dip tools in diluted household disinfectants or bleach.
·         Remove any dead leaves and foliage to minimise the chances of resting spores releasing the infection.
·         If disease does break out, remove and destroy the infected plants.

Alternatives to Box Hedging
There are not many alternatives to this quintessential English hedging plant but one that is increasing in popularity is Euonymus japonicas Microphyllus.  With deep green, dense foliage this compact plant gives a beautiful, formal appearance with minimal trimming.  It is tolerant of many conditions including heat, poor soils and salt spray.  A good container specimen, it is perfect for a low hedge, parterre or border.
It is easily grown in well-drained soils and is best with full sun in humid areas.  Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system.  Apply a general purpose fertlizer before new growth begins in ths Spring.  Shear annually for a neat appearance.  Pruning time:  Spring after flowering. 
It can also be clipped and trained into cone shapes or spheres just like Buxus sempervirens.

Another alternative to Box is Ilex Crenata.  Whist being a member of the Holly family, the leaf is all but identical to traditional Box and is certainly not prickly! Growth habit is also similar to traditional Box hedging, though it does have several added benefits in that it is not prone to leaf scorch when it is pruned and that it will also break fresh growth from 'brown wood' - so if more zealous pruning is required and you cut into areas of bare stem new growth will appear.
Most importantly it does not suffer from Leaf Spot, Rust or Box Blight. This plant is so versatile - it can be grown into a lovely evergreen hedge up to 12 feet (3.5 metres) tall or can be kept trimmed short and tidy for the traditional potager edging effect. Alternatively it is perfect for topiary and can be trained and pruned into all sorts of shapes.  If you decide to take this alternative option to Box the you should, under no circumstances, use any stimulants, fertiliser or bonemeal at planting time as such products will 'burn' any new root growth and slow down your plants development. Water thoroughly if the ground is dry. In extended dry periods ensure your plants are watered thoroughly at least once a week; this is even more critical on lighter soils. Trimming / pruning is best undertaken in May and September.

Monday 19 May 2014

Garden re-vamp

The weather is finally warming up and everything in the garden is growing nicely, perhaps the weeds are growing too nicely!  The garden now needs our constant attention to keep it looking at its best.  Regular pruning and weeding done now will reap dividends throughout the summer months.  Grass should also be mown regularly and given a "weed and feed" treatment to keep it looking lush all summer.
You have probably been looking forward to this time of year all winter and are now perhaps experiencing some despair that you have not got enough hours in the day to cope with a busy lifestyle and the additional work that now needs to be done in the garden.  The thought of having a BBQ with uncut grass and a garden full of weeds and hedges left untrimmed is a depressing thought!
Most gardens can be "licked into shape" quite quickly if caught at the right time and if you find that you would welcome additional help, or an extra pair of hands, to get on top of the job then we can help.  Act now and you will reap the benefits all summer long.
Thurlow Plants do offer a service, for a competitive fee, so just give me a call or send me an email and together we can discuss the problem and come up with a solution.

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Bare Root Hedging

With the feel of Autumn upon us it is now time to start thinking about getting that new hedgerow planted.  We can offer a full range of bare root hedging in a range of sizes to suit all budgets. 

If you wish to create a hedge which is really dense and bushy from the ground upwards it is advisable to plant young, small plants, typically 40-60cm high. Many people look at the small bare rooted seedlings and imagine it will take years before they will achieve anything that looks like a hedge, but this is not the case and if larger plants are chosen the result can often be that the hedge is rather sparse at the base. Also larger plants are more expensive and are more likely to fail than small ones.  If you have a rabbit problem then it is also advisable to put a guard around the plant during the first few years.  Ideally some of the seedlings should be allowed to grow into trees along the hedgerow as this will encourage birds and other wildlife.

If possible, get the preparation done before the winter planting season - while the weather and soil is still warm. If you need to improve the structure of the soil, incorporate generous quantities of compost, such as well-rotted garden compost or well-rotted farmyard manure if the situation allows this. If the soil has poor drainage you could add sharp sand or coarse grit (make sure it is lime-free). If this preparation is done in advance of planting the soil can then settle and will be workable when you come to put the plants in during the winter. Even if the soil is cold and frosty on the surface, it will be relatively easy to turn over if it has been correctly prepared.  If the plants arrive and the weather is too bad to plant them they can be kept in a small trench for a few weeks until the weather improves (all packaging to be removed first!)

When planting and caring for a new hedge it is very important to follow the correct pruning and planting instructions and Steve can offer advice on this if needed.

A typical English hedgerow is made up of:

40% Crataegus monogyna (Hawthorn)
20% Prunus spinosa (Blackthorn)
10% Acer campestre (Field maple)
10% Viburnum opulus (Guelder rose)
10% Carpinus betulus (Hornbeam)
10% Rosa canina (Dogrose)

Monday 1 July 2013

July Special Offer for Herbaceous Plants

Everything is about herbaceous borders at this time of year and so we thought we would put together an assortment of plants to make an instant border of approximately 4m x 2m.  It is suitable for a sunny position and will flower all season.  £130 (including delivery) plus vat.

Achillea Martina x 3
This has fantastic pale yellow flowers, on strong stems which will flower all summer long, followed by good seedheads for the winter.

Anthemis tinctoria Susan Mitchell x 4
Beautiful large creamy yellow flowers with silver foliage

Campanula Kent Belle x 5
Is an herbaceous perennial that bears vivid violet-blue, nodding, bell-shaped flowers on leafy stems

Geranium oxonianum Rosenlicht x 3
Clumps of mid green leaves studded with lots of medium sized bright deep pink flowers

Iris germanica Blue Rhythm x 4
Luscious, lemon-scented, cornflower blue flowers with ruffled petals and sword-shaped grey-green leaves.  This stately bearded Iris looks lovely towards the front of a border

Sisyrinchium E L Balls x 3
A clump forming, semi-evergreen perennial with upright stems bearing star-shaped mauve flowers with yellow eyes and erect bright green leaves.

Verbena bonariensis x 5
Tall, narrow, sparsely-leafed stems bearing flat tened heads of bright lavender-purple flowers that provide useful height in the herbaceous border.   The RHS have given it the Award of Garden Merit.

If you require any further information, or wish to place an order then please either email or ring us.  This special offer is available while stocks last.

Wednesday 27 March 2013

An alternative to Box hedging

With Box Blight becoming ever more widespread, and taking out a lot of Box hedging, it may be a good idea to look into an alternative and one such plant is the evergreen Euonymus japonicas Microphyllus.

With deep green, dense foliage this compact plant gives a beautiful, formal appearance with minimal trimming. It is tolerant of many conditions including heat, poor soils and salt spray. A good container specimen it is perfect for a low hedge, parterre or border.

Care Information
It is easily grown in well-drained soils and is best with full sun in humid areas. Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system. Apply a general purpose fertilizer before new growth begins in spring. Shear annually for a neat appearance. Pruning time: Spring after flowering.
It can also be clipped and trained into cone shapes or spheres just like Buxus sempervirens.

Thursday 10 January 2013

New Website

We are currently undertaking a total re-vamp of our website.  The new one will be much brighter, user-friendly and modern-looking.  One of the changes will be a link to our brand new Facebook page and this will take the place of our existing blog.  You will also be able to follow us on Twitter.
On our Facebook page you will find details of any special offers that we currently have, together with Steve's usual tips and advice. If you are a facebook user then please search for "R, E & L Thurlow Limited" and you will find us.  To help us get going we would love it if you could press the "like" button as this will help us to build a following and we will be able to keep a check on how many people are finding it useful.  Thank you!

Thursday 13 September 2012

Bare Root Season

The bare root season starts every year in late October, early November, subject to weather conditions.  This is the perfect time to plant a new native hedgerow or plant native trees at reasonable, affordable prices.
Native hedgerows are usually planted as a double row, 5 per metre stagggered, with the introduction of a native tree every 5 metres.
It is also a great time to plant up any screening that might need to be done to hide unsightly views, buildings, etc.  Again this can be achieved by planting up bare root whips and standard trees.
The difference between a bare root tree and a container grown tree is that the bare root tree is lifted directly from the ground whilst dormant and delivered immediately.  The root is placed in a black protection bag for delivery to protect the roots.  Whereas a container grown tree has spent all its life in a pot, potted on as it grows into larger containers.  These can be planted all year round but are a more expensive option.
The Autumn and Winter time is also a good time to plant rootball hedging such as Taxus baccata (Yew), Prunus rotundifolia (Laurel).  Rootballed means that the roots are lifted with the soil attached direct from the field and wrapped in biodegradeable sacking and wire basket.  You drop the whole lot into the ground - you must not remove the sacking or wire.  Again these are a cheaper option that container grown hedging.