Independent Project

As I mentioned briefly in a previous post, my independent project for this summer was developing a plant healthcare for certain plants in the formal garden at Adams, specifically for the phlox, lilacs, and the iris. Plant healthcare refers to developing a plan or system of maintenance and care for plants, trees, or shrubs that are affected by diseases or pest problems. The first thing I did for my project was draw a map of the formal garden and record the locations of the three plants I was monitoring. Since there were multiple shrubs, I only monitored certain shrubs that showed extreme conditions. After drawing the map, I wrote down the condition of each plant and monitored them for a period of time. Most of the phlox in the garden had mild to severe powdery mildew, which is a white, powdery fungus that can cause a plant to gradually die. Some of the iris shrubs had a lot of die-back and fungal leaf spot due to iris borer damage. Iris borers are a common pest that hatch in the spring and cause damage in the leaves and the rhizomes. The physical damage that the borers leave allow for the entry of bacteria and fungus, which can cause diseases like bacterial soft rot and fungal leaf spot. The lilacs, on the other hand, were doing fairly well at the beginning of the summer, but towards the end in early August, they started to show signs of powdery mildew.

After identifying these issues, I researched solutions online and gathered information from different sources. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to implement these methods because of limited time and some of the solutions had already been used in previous years. A lot of the solutions involve prevention rather than treatment so if they were implemented earlier in the spring before the diseases start and the borer larvae hatch, there would be better results. Therefore, I decided to write recommendations for a prevention plan that the park would be able to use in the spring. Bob recommended that I write a calendar to go along with the recommendations so I plan to do that as well. Developing a plant health care for the plants helped me learn a lot about the three plants I was monitoring, and introduced me to many of the diseases and pest problems that plants have.

A phlox shrub with purple blooms and powdery mildew at the base.

A phlox shrub with purple blooms and powdery mildew at the base.

A lilac shrub with powdery mildew in the back

A lilac shrub with powdery mildew in the back

An iris shrub in bad condition and with lots of die-back

An iris shrub in bad condition and with lots of die-back

Phlox die-back caused by powdery mildew

Phlox die-back caused by powdery mildew

6 responses to “Independent Project

  1. Hi Rhiori, You should save your work for the maintenance plan and it can be added into the binder. Good work.
    One obvious thing that can be done is to tweak the irrigation so the spray does not hit that spot so much. Sometime turning the sprinkler head a bit or regulating the spray droplets can help.

    We have similar problems at our park so we try to only water the soil, not the leaves of the plants. (We hand water the garden area.) We use the leaf blower to dry the garden off after a rain or if we watered with a sprinkler and got the foliage wet.

    I also use the rose spray fungicide on the garden phlox at least once a season. In the early spring I use a bit of Neem oil spray on the hollyhocks and garden phlox and this helps keep the foliage protected. It prevents powdery mildew. My rabbit repellent also has a bit of Neem oil in it to help it stick to the phlox foliage. Rabbits love phlox and asters.
    Sincerely,
    Mona, the gardener at Longfellow House – Washington Headquarters.

    Like

  2. Even though you were not able to implement the action portion of your project, Adams will benefit from having a clearly defined course of action for the future. Great job. Thanks.

    Like

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