The first two weeks of March were very mild here, spurring some plants on to make early growth. Fresh growth on privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium) was particularly noticeable. But then, the third week of March brought a week of frosts and freezing winds.
It was at the beginning of April that I started to notice wilt and blackening on privets. My first thought was that it must be cold damage.
But then I wondered whether it might be something worse. It seemed the more I looked, the more I found wilting shoots of privet. I found them on all ages of bushes – from last year’s cuttings to gnarly old hedge plants – and on plain and variegated plants. I found them at the bottom of bushes and at the top; on plants that were pot grown, and plants in the ground. You can see in the pictures that one shoot would be wilted whilst its neighbour seems to continue in rude health.
In the end, it is the fact that the problem is so widely spread, especially that it is in pot grown cuttings as well as plants in the ground, that makes me think it must be cold damage.
For now, until I am sure that winter has finally gone away, I am leaving the dead shoots on the plants and will trim them over when better weather finally arrives.
Winter has been long and fickle this year. Mainly, I’d say, it’s been drier and colder than usual, with fewer storms. But between the cold periods there have been unseasonably warm spells (up to 20C); between the dry spells there have been huge rain storms; and between the calm spells there have been some ferocious and freezing winds. Tipyn o bopeth (a bit of everything) really and quite challenging in the garden.
The young cork oaks (which are now two and three years old) have mainly suffered from the tortrix moth caterpillars, as per usual.
But in addition, they have also been being eaten by some kind of leaf miner…
and the younger trees have suffered a little from the lack of moisture and freezing winds – showing in the orangey-bronzey tints you can see in the picture above, alongside the dull buff colour where the leaf miners have stripped the living cells.
However, I’m happy to say, that they all seem to have come through OK and have plenty of new buds for this year’s growth. Hopefully winter will soon go away and they can put on some strong new growth through the summer.