Joene sponsors this meme on her blog, where you can check out other gardening oops posts.
But this month I am happy to tell you that I averted a mistake.
I almost made an oops, but then I did some research, and you would be amazed at how information can help when you are about to make a blindly precipitous decision about something you know nothing about.
Boxwood blight, a newly discovered fungus, infects all boxood (Buxus) types and there is no cure. Infected plants die, and often quite suddenly. They have to be removed and discarded, and it can wipe out most of a nursery's stock, or wreck a carefully designed home garden. We are on high alert here in Connecticut, where the disease is spreading.
As I pruned my Buxus microphylla 'Winter Gem' in early spring, I discovered brown leaves.
Aaack. Dig up the boxwood. Where's the shovel? Jim, come help me take it out right this minute before any of my other boxwoods get it. This infected plant must be discarded NOW. Not the transplant shovel, go get the big shovel, quickly.
It didn't have boxwood blight. Research on the internet showed me that the discoloration I saw on my boxwood's older leaves was not the blackened stems or the lesions on new leaves that indicate blight.
|Boxwood blight. Note the lesions on stems too. (*)|
|Boxwood blight diseased leaf (*)|
My boxwood plant had winter burn. Older leaves were dried out in places at the front of the plant, but new leaves were fresh and green and healthy. The stems looked fine.
|A stem from my plant. This is winter burn.|
The Oops Averted:
I was this close to taking out the whole plant, but I did not. It still lives in my garden, a little winter burned, but ok.
Just to be sure, I talked to Bartlett Tree Experts. Chris came out, looked at the leaves and said there were no signs of the dreaded blight here. He checked all my other Buxus plants too. Several have psyllid, a little critter that sucks on the leaves (making the tiny boxwood leaves curl cup shaped), but it is an insect that does no real damage, and has minimal ornamental effects.
(* the photos of boxwood blight came from an internet image search and were posted and reposted many times from county ag documents and university sites --- but the repostings lost track of where the original images were from)