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Mature trees, shrubs and perennials dying

We have a mature garden in Sheffield planted with a wide range of trees, shrubs and other perennials that normally thrive. The garden is on clay and drainage is not brilliant but this has not been a problem in previous years.

In the last few months we have seen a large number of mature plants begin to die. Usually the process begins with leaves curling up at their edges and progresses to loss of leaves and death of the plants. The plants are growing in a number of different beds and most beds are affected.

Plants that have been affected include a Eucalyptus tree, a mature Acer Japonica, a large bay tree, an entire row of mature lavendar plants, sage, box, rose bushes, hydrangea, clematis, kiwi, jasmine.

We have a polytunnel in which a mature vine is affected, and also tomatoes and peppers, which normally grow well in this environment, are seriously stunted or have died.

We have just noticed that the leaves on a very mature Ash tree in school grounds adjacent to our garden are starting to turn. We have checked with immediate neighbours and at least one further tree outside the perimeter of our garden seems to be affected in a similar way.

There are some species that are unaffected, including geranium.

From reading other threads on this forum and the RHS's page on Honey Fungus, https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=180, I fear that this may be the culprit. In the main, the lists of susceptible and resilient plants seems to match our experience. One exception is box which is on the RHS's resilient list, yet we have a number of plants that are affected.

Attached are some illustrative photos - can anyone confirm this diagnosis?

If Honey Fungus is the cause, how is the infection likely to have been introduced? Is there anything practical that can be done to protect plants that currently appear unaffected?

Any advice gratefully received.

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  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Third rock from the sunPosts: 34,449

    Oh dear. I am so sorry about whatever it is that is blighting your garden. I don't know much about honey fungus except that it will kill lots of trees/shrubs and that it spreads underground by rhizomorphs or roots that look like bootlaces. I would have a look in the soil around your plants to see if you can find anything like that. Sadly if it is honey fungus all infected plants should be dug up and burned. Fingers crossed it is not that and someone on here can come up with another diagnosis.

    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 20,544

    SINCERE COMMISERATIONS STUART. IT COULD BE HONEY FUNGUS. IT COULD BE FIRE BLIGHT. IT COULD BE BOTH. WHY NOT?

    HAVE YOU BROUGHT IN LARGE QUANTITIES OF TOPSOIL FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE LATELY?

    WHATEVER IT IS, IT LOOKS SERIOUS. A LONG HARD LOOK AT REDESIGNING YOUR GARDEN IS CALLED FOR. 

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • ButtercupdaysButtercupdays Posts: 4,118

    I have honey fungus in my garden and this doesn't feel right. Honey fungus usually takes a while to kill anything, with little sign at first except reduced vigour and, paradoxicaliy, often good flowering. This can take a year or two. Then, as the fungus blocks more of the plant's internal water transport system, branches gradually wither. The bark begins to peel and you get sheets of white mycelium below it and a distinct fungusy smell. It normally only affects trees and shrubs and the occasional woody perennial so the peppers and tomatoes succumbing is very odd, unless there was another reason.

    I know some strains of the fungus are more virulent than others, but if you had that you would know about it already. The rapid demise of large trees feels like something else and I wonder whether it would be worth having a soil test done. We had a very wet winter and one possibility is that it has raised the water table so that deeper rooted plants are drowning. Another, as you live in Sheffield, an area with an industrial heritage, is that it has liberated some soil contaminant.

    I really feel for you, it must be very distressing to see your garden afflicted in this way and I do hope you can narrow down the cause and find a solution to the problem.

  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 9,064

    I've noticed a euonymus in my front garden with a similar problem -

    image

    I don't think honey fungus is the culprit for either of us, but would be interested to hear the opinions of others

    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 20,544

    COULD BE A TYPE OF PHYTOPHTHORA. THERE ARE MANY, EACH WITH THEIR OWN SPECIALIZATION. FOR EXAMPLE

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phytophthora_ramorum

    THAT IS ONE.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,337

    I agree with Buttercupdays and think you should contact your local council with the possibility of a rising water table and ground contamination in mind.  Some of that damage does look more like the effects of soil poisoning than disease.  I also have honey fungus present and it doesn't cause the growth distortion which is clearly evident in some of your photos, Stuart.

    Edit: You could also have a number of diseases present - once a plant is weakened (for example by honey fungus or a rising water table rotting the roots) any number of secondary diseases can take hold.

    Last edited: 18 June 2016 13:25:59

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Invicta2Invicta2 Posts: 663

    It will not be Fireblight as that only infects some of the Genus' [Geni?] in the Rose family like Sorbus and cotoneaster. 

  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 16,156

    The curling of the leaves looks more like hormone weedkiller damage. Have you mulched around your garden with bought in manure? Some is contaminated by aminopyralid, or compost using grass clippings treated with clopyralid.

    You don't stop doing new things because you get old, you get old because you stop doing new things. <3
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 20,544

    ROSES WERE MENTIONED IN THE LONG AND SORRY LIST OF PLANTS AFFECTED BUT I THINK IT IS MORE LIKELY TO BE PHYTOPHTHORA ASSOCIATED WITH WETNESS.

    GOOD LUCK, INCIDENTALLY, WITH GETTING ANYTHING OUT OF SHEFFIELD COUNCIL. SPEAKING AS ONE WHO HAS TRIED IN THE PAST!image

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • RedwingRedwing SussexPosts: 1,228
    fidgetbones says:

    The curling of the leaves looks more like hormone weedkiller damage. 

    See original post

     That was my first thought too.  But not really likely on this large a scale  is what I thought when I saw the pictures, unless it was accidently applied to a large part of the garden.

    I really hope it doesn't spread further.  It must be heartbreaking.

    Based in Sussex, I garden to encourage as many birds to my garden as possible.
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