PHYLLIS ODESSEY

don’t be a pest

Margery Daughtrey photo courtesy of Wave Hill

Margery Daughtrey
photo courtesy of Wave Hill

Whack it to the ground.  When that doesn’t work, I go for the jugular: out comes the shovel and out comes the plant.  Margery Daughtrey did not entirely disagree with this approach.  As a plant pathologist with Cornell, Margery tests, controls, analyses and concludes.  Her method is a lot more systematic than mine.   I have the immediate satisfaction of eradicating a disaster. 

Sudden Oak Death, Rose Rosette Virus, Impatiens Downy Mildew and Boxwood

Sudden Oak Death on Rhododendron

Sudden Oak Death on Rhododendron

Blight were the diseases, Daughtrey concentrated on Wednesday night at the Wave Hill Horticultural Lecture Series.  Her talk, Dreadful Diseases Dangling Over Old Faithful Ornamentals is a scary topic, as well as an exceedingly boring one.  Daughtrey managed to make it interesting.  If knowledge is power, than her talk could be called hopeful.

Boxwood Blight is spreading.  The UK has been grappling with this disease for sometime.  With 100 year old topiaries and hedges, historic gardens are struggling, with no solution in sight.  The word blight caught my attention.  It implies something one can never recover from.  I decided to look up the etymology of the word.

Boxwood Blight

Boxwood Blight

blight (n.)
1610s, origin obscure;  according to OED it emerged into literary speech from the talk of gardeners and farmers, perhaps ultimately from Old English blaece, balecou, a scrofulous skin condition and/or from Old Norse bilkna “become pale.”

Daughtrey traced most of the diseases she talked about to globalization.  The fact that almost all propagation of plants is done in other parts of the world.  “Pests and pathogens are being shipped into the US everyday. The big box stores are potent transmitters of plant diseases.”

In reaction to this sentiment; there was a groundswell in the audience.  GO LOCAL.  I am a supporter of the locavore movement, but have not considered a locavore movement as it pertains to plants.  If you know of a nursery that actually propagates its own plants, support it!

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