AQUILEGIA ALERT

This England - - News -

One of my favourite cot­tage gar­den plants is un­der threat — the aquilegia or granny’s bon­net. This spring I no­ticed that I had fewer aqui­le­gias in the gar­den, and some that were grow­ing had dis­torted leaves. I put it down to the late frosts we had had but then I dis­cov­ered a far more sin­is­ter rea­son — ADM or Aquilegia Downy Mildew. This fun­gus has spread rapidly and has wiped out the won­der­ful Na­tional Col­lec­tions of Aquilegia at Touch­wood Nurs­eries, Kil­lay, Swansea. ADM flour­ishes in cool damp con­di­tions, just as potato blight does. Af­fected plants show ir­reg­u­lar yel­low­ish patches on the leaves and pur­ple blotch­ing on the stems. The leaves curl and be­come dis­torted and even­tu­ally the whole plant shriv­els and dies. The spores of the mildew are on the un­der­side of the leaf and can be dif­fi­cult to spot in dry weather but they ap­pear as white/pur­ple in damp con­di­tions. There is no known con­trol and plants with ADM should be dis­posed of as quickly as pos­si­ble — either by burn­ing or bury­ing. They should not be put in the com­post bin. For fur­ther ad­vice go to the very use­ful web­site of Touch­wood Nurs­eries: www.touch­wood­plants.co.uk My story has a happy ending as it was the frost that was caus­ing the prob­lem be­cause other aqui­le­gias in the gar­den have flow­ered as usual. How­ever, I will be keep­ing a very watch­ful eye on them in the fu­ture.

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