replacing a ‘blighted’ boxwood……

(Question)

We are losing our old boxwood, likely to ‘boxwood blight’.
It was an older plant (possibly a decade or two old) which was transplanted last Fall to a central sunny spot (from a partially shaded area), but this year it seems to be showing the ‘blight’. Other boxwoods around the house do not seem to be affected, several of the same age…….but we are keeping an eye on 4 new ‘green velvet’ boxwoods planted last year. So far they seem to be OK.

We will likely replace this older blighted boxwood with another broadleaf evergreen, and we are looking for some advice on what to choose. We do not trim, we like natural growing foliage and we like to keep the birds happy.

We live north of Whitby, Ontario. (zones 5/6)

(Answer)

Boxwood blight is caused by the fungal pathogen Cylindrocladium pseudonaviculatum. It first appeared in the U.S. in October, 2011 C.pseudonaviculatum infects the leaves and branches of boxwoods, causing severe defoliation and dieback. Infected branches develop long blackish-brown cankers that appear as stripes on stems.

To entice a variety of birds to your  garden one should provide them with everything they need to survive:  food and water, shelter from weather and predators and a nesting place and materials. If you design your garden from a bird’s perspective, they will come.

Some broadleaf evergreens that you might like to consider for your garden space:

1) Blue Prince/Princess Holly  ( Ilex meserveae) : Zone 5-9: 150cm tall x 125cm wide.

Holly plants are either male or female, as a result  you need one plant of each sex for production of the berries. Only female plants produce berries. One male holly plant suffices for eight to nine female plants. For best results, grow them side by side. Holly should be pruned in early spring when it is dormant, just before bud break. Berries provide food for a variety of birds.

2) Blue Ice Bog Rosemary   (Andromeda polifolia) : Zone 2-9: 30cm tall x 100cm wide.

This  is a low native acid-loving evergreen shrub with bright blue foliage and pink flowers in May. This shrub grows best in partial-full sun and requires wet or constantly moist soil.

3) Carol Mackie Daphne  (Daphne burkwoodii) : Zone 5-9:  80cm tall x 80cm wide .

This shrub has small green leaves with cream coloured edges and produces very fragrant pink flowers in late May to early June. This shrub prefers moist, well-drained soil in partial-full sun. The shrub attracts hummingbirds.

There are also a variety of lovely deciduous shrubs that produce berries which attract birds as well as provide beautiful fall foliage.

4) Brilliantissima’ Red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia ‘Brilliantissima’) Zone 5, 2 m high x 1.5 m
Fragrant, white flowers in spring; long-lasting red berries; scarlet red fall foliage. Flowers supply nectar for butterflies and other pollinators; twiggy canes provide nesting for small birds; berries are a food source for ruffed grouse and many other birds.

Silverberry (Elaeagnus commutata) Zone 2, 1.75 m high x 2 m
Silver-grey leaves and fragrant yellow flowers in spring followed by grey berries. Twiggy growth provides nesting and cover; fruit is a food source for waxwings and wild ducks.

 Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) Zone 4, 2 m high x 2 m
 Deciduous, native holly with scarlet autumn foliage; bright red winter berries. Spreading twiggy growth for bird perching sites and winter cover; fruit is a food source for cardinals and blue jays.

Yukon Belle firethorn (Pyracantha angustifolia ‘Monon’) Zone 5, 1.8 m high x 1.8 m
Upright,thorny broadleaf evergreen; white flowers in spring; orange berries in autumn and winter. Provides cover and nesting for finches and sparrows; fruit is a food source for small birds.

 ‘Mohican’ viburnum (Viburnum lantana ‘Mohican’) Zone 4, 1.75 m high x 2.5 m
Textured, green foliage with flat clusters of cream flowers in spring; orange-red berries in summer; foliage turns purple-bronze in fall. Perching and food source for birds; winter cover for small animals.
Hope this list narrows down your search for that perfect shrub.