Saturday, May 21, 2016

Anisogramma anomala - Eastern Filbert Blight on Corylus

Having this Corylus avellana contorta 'Red Majestic' now for several years, I thought we were in the clear of it ever developing Eastern Filbert Blight.

As the leaves unfurl, I always take a good look to be sure. I examine the stems thoroughly. Leaves should be slightly crinkly and the stems should be grey with lighter lenticels.

This spring two branches are showing signs of disease. It's easy to detect. Lack of leaves, dry and flaking bark tissue and the loss of the smooth grey bark are tell-tale signs the plant has Eastern Filbert Blight.

The pathogen, Anisogramma anomala has invaded lenticels on some of the bottom stems, as shown here. I cut them off and brought them to a less distracted background for ID.

The pathogen splashes on to leaves and young stems, in this case enveloping the lenticels (stem breathing pores) and causing cankers. These cankers can appear 12-16 months after the initial infection. The cankers swell and expand, splitting the bark tissue, causing die-back and eventual stem decay.

The lenticels will darken with the bacterium and will become quite woody - hard.

I remember having a colleague tell me these were Scale Insects. From afar, they may look that way, but with this close up, you can see it's a canker for sure!

TREATEMENT:  Cut back infected branches or to healthy growth with no evidence of cankers; to the main stem during dry conditions. Destroy or put in garbage. DO NOT COMPOST THESE INFECTED STEMS. Disinfect pruning tools after each cut. Prevent over-head irrigation/watering, especially any splashing throughout the spring/summer. Keep your eye on the plant throughout the summer months and prune away any stems where lenticels are becoming distorted.

With our situation, we are going to have a tough go - with the pond so close. Fingers crossed.

It's a common disease within Nursery Greenhouse Growing conditions. Can wipe out an entire plant if it's not nipped in the 'bud'.

Hint: One of the things I look out for when purchasing any Filbert (Corylus sp.) plant at the Garden Centre/Nursery. If you see these cankers, if so - look elsewhere. It's too bad this one now has it.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Training Euonymus as a Climber

When you have limited space, dense shade and you want to cover a fence line which is rather unsightly - you have limited choices in what to use.

I wanted to have some evergreen coverage to look at during the winter. I've tried Hedera helix (English Ivy) in my situation, but with little success. Too much die-back overwinter and very little growth rate. So I gave up.

Two years ago, I started Euonymus fortunei 'Coloratus' (Purpleleaf Winter-Creeper) out of sheer desperation. In garden centres, it comes in cell packs: tiny little plants to start off, but worth the wait. Used mainly as a ground cover, I decided to give it a go...

Positioning it close to the wooden fence in early spring (when there were no leaves on the above tree) it took and began rooting its way up. Today, it looks like this:

Given there is a bit of winter leaf scorch damage visible, it's turning out rather nicely. By the end of June, all the worst of the brown leaves will fall off and new growth will cover the rest.

Here, you can see I used a metal framed art (from Homesense) to help support the growth, although - this is not necessary. Euonymus can become self clinging with a little coaxing. I just lightly bound the stems as it inched upwards in mid-summer to the wood, with a little garden wire, forcing the growth to fix to one area. By the end of the first summer, it had stem rootlets fixing itself onto the cedar panel. Yay!

Last year, I planted an Emerald Gaiety variety (with white variegation).  This one is very slow to grow, compared to the Coloratus cultivar. I still leave the supportive wire here, as it's taking its time reaching the desired height.

My intention is to grow these as backdrops, adding perhaps clematis or some Lamiastrum galeobdolon argentatum weaved through.

Here's another example of Euonymus (Sheridan Gold) which grew amazingly well in full sun, on a trellis fence partition:

Because the lattice wood has so many gaps, this needs a little encouragement to fixate and grow on the partition. By gently taking new, pliable stems - you weave them between the gaps and it will fill in nicely.

Euonymus can grow rather woody, so bear that in mind when you decide on what it will adhere to. You want whatever it climbs along to be sturdy enough to bear the mature weight of the plant as it grows.

The best aspect about these as vines:
  • they are slow growing compared to most vines
  • evergreen (in Ontario, there are few choices that give you great winter coverage)
  • won't damage the fence too much, as you can easily control their growth habit
  • shade tolerant and...
  • drought tolerant
Try it yourself!

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Sapsucker Damage - Pinus nigra

One of the draw backs to inviting birds to your garden (via a bird bath), are birds that can cause damage.

On closer inspection, the young Austrian Pine (Pinus nigra) situated closest to the bird bath had some buds that were rather small compared to the other side.

Strangely enough, being so close, the tree benefits from having extra waterings with us refilling and cleaning the bird bath frequently.  So it isn't lack of moisture.

The needle buds on the other side are twice the size. These are still tight.

Seeing only two holes on the one side, I couldn't figure out why some of the needles were drooping and the buds were smaller.

It wasn't until I walked around to the other side, when I saw this severe damage. Wow. This is not just woodpecker damage, but a feeding site of the Yellow Bellied Sapsucker.    Looking in our bird-book, we noticed our location is one of the stomping grounds for this migratory bird to pass through. Lovely to see, but wow, such damage for such a little feathered visitor.

They feed on the sap flowing in spring. They make these distinctive sap-wells, all in a row. Many insects get stuck in the gooey sap and I am sure they add flavour to the Sapsucker's meal! It may marvel you on how they feed, but our poor tree...

What to do now?

Noticing squirrels are interested in this damage, we decided to take action and cover the wounded area. Burlap was our choice. It's breathable, readily available and like a cloth bandage, we want to be able to remove it, in order to monitor it. This way, we can clean out any debris and or insects so the plant can seal off those wounds on its own.

One long strip - the width of the damage, only wrapped around once - tied off taut.

You can use bird tanglefoot products that you can spread over the area, to prevent more damage but I rather let the tree do its own restorative healing first. Since our area is along the Sapsuckers migratory path, I don't fear it will return to feed again.

Going to add some compost leaves from last autumn under the drip line of the tree - this will enrich the soil and help keep the roots from drying out too much. Given we are still experiencing a moist spring, any dry periods we will supplement with waterings. The more hydrated the tree will be, the better chance it will have to heal.

Will update you on the trees progress as it seals the wound. Fingers crossed. 
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