Any form of gardening or horticulture inevitably pits man against nature. Generally, the battle is against common foes that are irritating and destructive rather than catastrophic – slugs and snails; mealybug and black spot; spider mite and greenfly; mice, moles and voles. Occasionally, though, destruction becomes devastation –a virulent strain of Dutch Elm Disease hit in 1967 and the aftermath is with us still though it was the mass-media publicity in early 2012 of Ash Dieback’s arrival that reintroduced that sense of helpless foreboding to the battle. It is against this background that the spread of Box Blight is now being reported. Perhaps because the disease is more likely to trouble topiary in Tunbridge Wells than lay waste acres of woodland, general panic is muted, but among gardeners it is a topic of increasingly heated debate – testament to Box’s popularity and importance.
Certainly the discussion is sufficiently heated and widespread for much of what is written and said to be based on exaggeration, guesswork and/or hearsay rather than objective consideration. Therefore, our next handful of posts will look at every aspect of the disease and its impact objectively and dispassionately, enabling readers to make informed decisions about one of, if not the, most popular hedging plants. We will cover the following topics:
• What is Box Blight?
• When and Where does Box Blight strike?
• How is Box Blight transmitted?
• But have I really got Box Blight?
• How can I prevent Box Blight?
• Can Box Blight be treated?
• Should I still plant Box?
• Your Local Gardening Club can help