The no dig gardener gets his comeuppance
It would not happen to Anthony Cuthbert. Double digger. He would have found it! Something nasty buried below.
I did not dig my new acre garden fourteen years ago. I merely sprayed-off the unwanted vegetation, burnt the brambles and cleared any rubble. I worked very hard moving several tons of an ancient concrete rock garden which I buried under an access path alongside the then twelve foot overgrown privet!
Ironic that another material interment, probably done before I was born, was the cause of my problem.
|I quickly dismissed the stupid notion that my dwarf rhododendron might revive!
The unfortunate death of my plant was in my ‘acid border’ where I grow azaleas, rhododendrons, heathers, pernettyas, camellias, magnolias, witch hazels, blueberries, itea and gentians. Not to mention a thriving variegated tulip tree, a Picea breweriana and ferns!
It had happened before! Several years ago when two five year old very healthy camellias suddenly went brown. When I investigated three foot down I found a cache of old plastic fertiliser sacks. The devil knows what they had contained. Problem solved and I replanted.
|My dead camellia had been like this one
It happened again last month on an adjacent patch. A dwarf evergreen rhododendron within weeks turned brown and died. Slow growing, it had taken ten years to achieve two foot high. As with the earlier camellias it was only when the roots really got down did they find sufficient poison to kill them. Last year there was a long spell of dry conditions and we had failed to water. The roots must have penetrated deeply seeking water.
|Look what I found - buried ‘treasure’
I dug another deep hole and you can see what I found. Not only were there various rusted metal objects and a bicycle wheel, there were two encrusted tins of paint! Plants are sensitive to certain ‘heavy metal’ ions and perhaps the old paint might have contained lead.
I had a new planting opportunity!
Gardener’s often fret and wonder at mysterious plant deaths. There are many causes. Rarely are buried objects suspected!