Sarah Coles


 Better No Plants than Sick Plants!

Eighteen months ago box blight descended.  Either side the path I had low rows of dwarf box, Buxus suffruticosa, and beautiful they looked too.  Then in the cold damp summer my bright green box turned dull brown.  They became two rivers of death.

Box blight attacks box leaves and stems and is caused by two fungi specific to box.  Dwarf box is particularly vulnerable, but the common box, Buxus sempervivens, is more resistant, and my topiary balls of ordinary box emerged virtually unscathed.  The blight is spread by wind and rain.  It has plagued the whole country.  What can one do?  Nothing.  There is no remedy, and the one prevention, available only to professional growers, is a highly expensive fungicide.

I spent nearly £200 on this box!  The man from the box nursery near Liss came and sprayed, for free – normally he said it cost £60.  This may have delayed the spread, but long term it was useless.  He had no advice, but he should have said, ‘Put us out of business and never buy dwarf box again.’

If you do have box and it’s looking fine, my advice is, never clip in damp weather because then it is vulnerable to attack.  Wait for summer, and a forecast of dry weather.

At first I left the box as it was.  Surely it might recover?   What could I put in its place?  Lavender, rosemary or hyssop?  Too untidy for what I want.  Dwarf berberis?  Too prickly.  Ilex crenata?  It hates chalky soil.  Pittosporum Tom Thumb?

I waited.  Now, March 2013.  Fat point in hoping!  They looked terrible, a mix of yellow and green leaves, interspersed with dead shoots.  They’d got worse after this bucketing winter.  So, I dug them all out – the roots gripped the soil.  I piled them in green sack of garden refuse.  I  left six dwarf box under the Grislinia which were unscathed, I think because it was an umbrella keeping off the falling spores of blight. Result?  The bare path looked infinitely better.  Motto: Better no plants than sick plants.

Meanwhile the larger box balls of Buxus sempervirens at either end smile, superior, uncontaminated.

Comments are closed.

Copyright Sarah Coles 2018
Privacy Policy
Website Design & Creation Forum Media and Design - Alresford