Pests and Diseases

  • Winter pruning: Don't cut corners...


    Winter pruning

    Clean up those secateurs for a decent
    bit of winter pruning

    To non-gardeners it may not be obvious, but autumn can be one of the busiest times of year in the garden, and pruning is one of the most important tasks of the season.

    There are many trees and shrubs that need pruning or renovating in their dormant period if they are to avoid stress and recover before growth begins again in spring.

    Left unpruned, deciduous trees and shrubs can become leggy and unattractive, with soft and top fruit becoming unproductive and susceptible to disease.

    When carrying out your pruning it is really important to use clean sharp tools that will not leave any jagged edges that could prove an easy entry for infection.
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  • Honey fungus: The tree killer


    Honey fungus

    The honey-coloured fruiting bodies of honey fungus (Armillaria spp) (image: Wikimedia Commons)

    Honey fungus or Armillaria are a group of parasitic fungi. They attack trees, shrubs and woody perennials, and are one of the most destructive fungal diseases in the UK.

    They are also among some of the biggest living organisms in the world, their underground networks often covering many miles and living for up to a thousand years.

    It is so successful because, unlike most parasites that rely on keeping their hosts alive in order to extract nutrients, it can kill its host and continue living on the decaying matter for many years. Watch our video on how to diagnose honey fungus

    The fungi spread by long reddish brown root-like rhizomorphs that live close to the surface of the soil.

    They attach themselves to the root collar of woody plants, killing off the root systems leaving the host unable to absorb nutrients and water. You can watch our video on how to diagnose honey fungus
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    Help us reinstate the British landscape as it was in Constable's day. From this week Ashridge Nurseries (which is launching a campaign to Give an Elm a Home) is selling the first elm tree available in the UK that is truly resistant to Dutch Elm disease.

    Morfeo elm trees have been tested since 1994 and are available in the UK exclusively from us in extremely limited numbers this year. You can be one of the first 250 people to plant an elm that will help put the countryside back the way it was. Growing at about 1 metre a year, these trees will quickly make an impact. For those of us who remember the countryside before Dutch Elm disease struck, it will be a very welcome change.

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  • Organic care of roses


    Organic care for roses

    There are organic alternatives to rose pest and
    disease control – including growing garlic!

    Roses, apart from being beautiful are also probably the most loved flower in British gardens - and one of the most useful. 

    Rose petals are commonly harvested for use in cosmetics, dried for pot pourri, or added to jams, syrup or water for flavour. You can also crystallise them for use as cake decorations.

    Rose hips contain more vitamin C gram-for-gram than oranges with even higher levels in the older heritage varieties. They can be used in jams, syrups and soups or just left on the plant as winter food for birds.
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  • Ash tree dieback disease - more pictures and spore release video

    chalara-electron The Chalara fraxinea pathogen
    (credit: Susanne Mottinger-Kroupa)

    Further to our earlier post on ash dieback disease, we can now provide more images and information from the University of Vienna on the symptoms of the Chalara fraxinea infection of ash trees.

    In addition, again from University of Vienna, we have a video of the release of fungal spores from ash twigs infected with the reproductive stage of C. fraxinea, called Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus. It is this trumpet-shaped mushroom stage that we may see develop in the UK in spring 2013, and it is the prevention (or at least limitation) of this stage that needs to remain in sharp focus.

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  • UK ash tree die back – a viewpoint on the infection of ash trees by the Chalara fraxinea fungus

    Images by kind permission of Thomas Kirisits, Josef Wampl, Christian Freinschlag, Katharina Kräutler and Michaela Matlakova of the Institute of Forest Entomology, Forest Pathology and Forest Protection (IFFF), Department of Forest and Soil Sciences, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU), Vienna, Austria


    Since infected ash saplings were found at Buckingham Nurseries at the beginning of 2012 the UK ash die back crisis has reached fever pitch, with many column inches devoted to both blame and cure. With such media attention, it’s no surprise that anyone with an ash tree on their land (or even near it) is starting to worry.

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  • Topical Tip: Raking leaves for good garden hygiene

    Raking leaves equals good garden hygiene Raking leaves equals good garden hygiene

    Raking up garden might not be your favourite task, but if you want to be sure of protecting your plants from nasty diseases and persistent pests, it's an absolute essential.

    Autumn has arrived in style, with some wonderful colours gracing garden and countryside alike.

    And as the leaves start to fall, with a few exceptions they should be raked up and composted, and used to improve your soil in the future. Unfortunately, there may be some leaves that will need to be either burned, or disposed away from the garden.

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  • Ash Die Back Disease - Chalara fraxinea, coming to a wood near you?

    Ash trees before die back Healthy ash trees before die back

    Ash die back is caused by a fungus, Chalara fraxinea (C. fraxinea). It is a serious, potentially fatal disease affecting ash trees.

    The early symptoms are:

    1. Leaf loss, beginning with the leaves closest the tips of twigs and working back to larger branches and trunks;
    2. Crown dieback (progressive death of woody growths in the crown starting from the tips of branches and working back to the centre of the tree.

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  • Identify Sudden Oak Death - Phytophthora ramorum

    The fungus behind sudden oak death or SOD, Phytophthora ramorum, is a new disease outbreak, first recorded in the early 1990's. In America, it has had a potent effect on their local Oaks (Quercus group). In Europe, it mainly attacks other unrelated plants, especially: Rhodedendron. Camellia. Peiris. Larch. Ornamental viburnums...
  • Were you a Derby Day loser?

    We get a few enquiries about box blight from customers (and non-customers) who are worried that their box hedging might have contracted the dread disease. When we are sent samples only about a quarter prove to be suffering from box blight which probably means that it is not as serious...

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