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Early Flowers

Crocus Cyclamen coum Hellebore 'Merlin' Snowdrop Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Goodbye to the Mildewed Viburnum

The two viburnums ('Spring Bouquet') that were plagued with mildew all last year has been banished from the garden. In hindsight, I'm not sure why I planted them out by the street but I felt that they might make a nice matching anchor to the front gate. I call this area the hell strip although technically I don't think it is that, it is just the strip between the street and the fence. 

The two viburnums had good air circulation with only groundcovers surrounding them and they were in full sun so the mildew problem is puzzling. They were stunning during the winter months when they bloomed. That is, until the mildew began. I've tried Neem and various sprays and even cut them back a little but the problem persisted. 

Since this area is not regularly irrigated, I've tried to concentrate on drought tolerant plants for this area. The viburnums didn't fit the bill anyway so I didn't feel too bad about replacing them. My neighbor Judy said she would like to try them so I transplanted them to her garden after cutting them back severely and removing all the leaves. It will be interesting to see how they fare for her.
Alas, I miss the fullness they provided. The replacements look forlorn but I am excited about the possibilities.
First is Pinus sylvestris 'Albyn Prostrata', a dwarf pine that I hope will spread out and create a mounding groundcover. 
Pinus sylvestris 'Albyn Prostrata'

And I finally got a larch, not the big tree one that I'd love to have but a dwarf variety called 'Prag' (Larix decidua). Now the size specifics on this one vary from a height of 2' to 6'.  I searched through my books and online and could not get a concrete answer to this. I do hope the 6' is not true. At least it is a slow grower. 

Right now, it looks unspectacular and has yet to leaf out. These were leftovers from last season at the nursery where I work. I almost bought it several times last year. I finally succumbed, thanks to the viburnums!
European Larch (Larix decidua 'Prag')


Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. As unfortunate and mysterious as the demise of the viburnums is, its going to be interesting to see if either recovers at the neighbor's garden. An estimated growth of 2'-6' is rather unhelpful, isn't it? at a rate of 3"-6" per year, I suspect it will eventually reach 6'.
    Some plant tags specify growth "in ten years", which I find helpful, but even dwarf conifers don't seem to stop growing, even after 10 years :-)

    1. Plant tags are indeed not very helpful. I saw one last week that said "6 - 25 ft". Now that is really helpful!

  2. I hate plant tags like that, although arguably plant tags that promise a 3x3' plant that result in a 6x6' plus plant are even worse. I hope both your new additions thrive to become plants you love.


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