Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Crispy Critter

I wasn't the only living thing that got fried the weekend of the Garden Bloggers Fling. Although I watered the bed just before I went away to San Francisco, we had some very hot and dry weather here in the Seattle-Tacoma area while I was gone, and one of my shrubs is, I think, toast -- a Hypericum 'Albury Purple.' It's in the bed in front that got emptied of shrubs, perennials and trees last fall, and then got put back in a different spot. It leafed out this spring but the foliage was not very purple, and it seems to me it never really recovered from being moved. Either that, or it's actually diseased.

There it is behind the blue oat grass.

These leaves should not look like this.


It's next to a Callistemon.

Also close by is the wonderfully healthy foliage of a dark-leaved ninebark.

Here it is in all its ugly glory from the other side of the bed.

It might live. It might survive by the skin of its teeth. Who knows, it might even thrive again (but don't say that too loudly.) It strikes me that this is an opportunity. I'm going to replace it. I'll probably pull it out soon cause I can't stand looking at it, but I won't plant anything in its place till closer to fall, when the rains return. Preferably I'll be able to find something interesting and drought-tolerant. Might this be the point where I finally buy a Phormium?

What do you think? Got any suggestions?


  1. Woodsman, spare that tree or rather, gardener, spare that 'Albury Purple!' It has a rust problem and can be saved. Also, it will become more purple with more sun. To save it, treat it much like a rose with black spot. Remove all dead leaves from beneath the plant & take off all leaves that look bad. If this is the whole plant, you can prune the whole thing back. There is no way to rid the leaves of this disease but you can protect newly emerging foliage from catching this by spraying weekly with a fungicide (lots of organic options including making your own with baking soda, water and dish detergent.) as the foliage emerges and keeping the soil clean. It wouldn't hurt to scrape a little of the soil off the surface while you're removing the dead leaves and replace it with a nice bit of compost. The goal is to remove as many of the fungal spores as possible. Keep the plant well watered but try to avoid overhead watering as water splashing on the soil and leaves can help spores jump back up onto the new growth. After cutting back, a nice drink of compost or manure tea will help the plant regrow. So that's the official way to save this plant. What I do when I can't look at it anymore is cut it nearly to the ground, remove the fallen leaves, spray the plant and area & wait. Often the plant returns with no rust.

    1. Spraying weekly is why I don't have roses. It's already in full baking sun. I pruned the whole thing back to about 6 inches and took off every leaf and removed some soil and every scrap of dead leaf from the soil around it. Maybe I'll get lucky and that will have killed it. Then I can take it out without feeling guilty for not trying to save it.

  2. Sounds like Peter's got some answers for you. However if you're still thinking about a Phormium I say go for it! Just make sure you're okay with loosing it should we have another icky winter...(god I hope not!)

  3. I wouldn't have the patience to spray weekly - I'd go for the Phormium!

  4. I hope it makes it (sounds like Peter had quite a few good remedies). If not, have fun finding something to put in its place ;-)

  5. I say, "Off with its head!" Have fun picking out your new Phormium. :)

  6. Don't they self seed like nothing on earth anyway, my ordinary one ( many) do. I have three Phormium on the go. The oldest has been with me THREE years ...fingers crossed for no bad winters .

  7. Alison, I'm not familiar with this particular shrub, but I am familiar with things keeling over in my garden. I hate when it happens, but I'm with you, spraying weekly is just not my thing either. I have two roses left, poor things, they must be tough. I just killed a dwarf picea pungens that I'm not proud to admit. I really, really liked that teeny shrub. Oh well, hopefully I can find another one to replace it. All I did was move it to a 'better' location.

    I still have to set aside time to read your excellent posts I've missed. It's late again tonight, but the next rainy day, I vow to get caught up!

  8. Phormium sounds like a good idea, should withstand dry spells next year as it's got time to root out from fall till then.

  9. Out with the old, in with the new!

  10. I'd say if you already tried cutting it back and removing leaves as Peter suggested, to no avail - treat yourself to a Phormium!


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