Boxwoods are the mainstays of landscapes in many historical sites across the commonwealth as well as an important nursery crop. The annual wholesale market value for boxwood nursery production is $103 million.
However, growers and researchers are concerned that boxwood blight could potentially decimate English and American boxwood populations along the East Coast if precautions to curb the spread of the disease are not followed.
Boxwood blight is caused by a fungal pathogen that renders the plant’s leaves brown and dry. The fungus can rapidly defoliate boxwood plants, making the plants unsuitable for commercial sale, leading to plant death, and wiping out ornamental landscapes. The disease spreads primarily via plant materials and soil from infected plants. The pathogen produces sticky spores that attach to plant containers, tools, vehicles, and shoes and clothing.
Master Gardener Mary Ann Kincaid, of Virginia Beach, helps to maintain the gardens at the Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center.
At more than 5,500 strong, Virginia’s Master Gardeners are making an impact in communities across the commonwealth.
Master Gardeners can usually be found in the middle of any community garden project. They share their knowledge with the public through plant clinics and educational programs. They develop and maintain demonstration gardens and provide garden tours. They also set up plant clinics at farmers markets and staff horticulture help desks at local Extension offices.
While not all of Virginia’s citizens actively seek help from Master Gardeners, everyone in the commonwealth can benefit from their efforts. Even a small group of people that learns and implements best management horticulture practices that help sustain the environment will improve the viability of all of Virginia.
“If a particular neighborhood pays attention to its lawn care practices, it’s going to have an impact on that particular watershed and eventually have a positive impact on the Chesapeake Bay. The entire commonwealth receives public value from those actions, even though it’s a small segment of people that is directly involved in the work,” said David Close, state Master Gardener coordinator.