3 garden disasters – which one is heading towards YOUR garden?

The garden LOOKS fine – but it’s been hit by three of the most difficult-to-deal with gardening disasters. And they’re all increasing in gardens around the world – at least one may be heading towards your garden. How to deal with box moth caterpillar, tulip fire and invasive non-native plants!
00:00 Welcome
00:29 The box moth caterpillar
00:16 What does the box tree moth caterpillar look like?
01:50 How to get rid of the box moth caterpillar
05:20 Does the box moth caterpillar spread to other non-box plants?
05:50 How to recognise tulip fire
06:15 What to do about tulip fire
06:45 How to deal with the invasive non-native plant
07:12 Why native plants are important
09:42 How can a bird feeder be harmful to birds?

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24 Replies to “3 garden disasters – which one is heading towards YOUR garden?”

  1. Blues abound in my yard because I planted bulbs from a store. I don't believe they're invasive Spanish bluebells, but they do tend to get into places I didn't plant them. Does that make them invasive? I dig up the willy-nillies and put them in an area with the original bulbs, and enjoy a dense spread of lovely blue hyacinth like blooms every year. However, there is enough of them there and they need dividing. After seeing this video, I'm not sure if I should dig up bulbs and offer them to other people or toss them in the yard debris bin for the local compost pickup?

  2. Try wrapping or weaving some twine around the tight grooves of your bird feeder hanger. That will prevent future accidents.

  3. Just today pulling up all the Spanish bluebells in my garden. I let the flowers peak because they’re really beautiful but they had to be at least kept in check. I’m exhausted! The bulbs were so deep. I’m sure I’ve missed loads.

  4. I planted a variety of plants and some are growing roots into my sewer drain, clogging it up. That’s my unexpected garden disaster.

  5. Thank you for this video Alexandra. The house sparrows had a really good feast on the box caterpillar last year. They have a seriously sized maternity unit in a neighbours roof. I will see if I can spot any myself this year and yank them out. If all that fails, well it is a very boring plant ( put in by previous owners) and I may well pull them up and put something more interesting in – something that flowers ????

  6. Can you say more about Spanish bluebells, I have tonnes in my garden this year and as well as you, never planted them. Where did they came from and how are they spreading please? My pests are slugs ???? I pick them by hand and with a bit of help from hedgehogs. Thank you ????

  7. Vine beside your door that’s green, pink and white, What is it?

  8. I adore your boxwood spiral! It's gorgeous! Here in Southern California, people use Japanese Boxwood (Buxus microphylla). Not sure if it's susceptible to Box moth; I've only heard of it in France and the UK. For years without fail, I would get 'inchworms' all over my rose leaves in April. I used the bacillus worm spray and it worked well. It came in a concentrate. I don't recall seeing it recently, though California has implemented stricter laws on pesticides (and invasive species) than other parts of the U.S. You make a good point that invasive pests can avoid being eaten by native birds and insects because they are not part of original ecosystem. I'm so sorry you have to dig up those beautiful tulips! I've had bad nematodes stunt tomato plants; changing location and new soil are key. An invasive plant I can't stand is oxalis (sometimes sold as 'shamrocks' around St. Patrick's Day here), both pink and yellow flowering. The little brown corm things fall off of the root easily and it seems the more you dig them out, the more they spread. I think our gophers were hoarding them, and spread them all around the yard. >:(

  9. My garden is overrun with Spanish Bluebells. I think that they were a 'gift' from my mother about twenty years ago and whilst we've had a few most years, this year they've run amok. I loathe digging up pretty plants, however, you are right, ultimately they are more than a nuisance and potentially threaten woodlands etc. A digging I shall go…again!

  10. For that birdfeeder hanger with the arched "arms"…I'm sure that if you look at it long enough, you will think of a way of sliding something over those curves to minimize the chances another bird getting caught in it. A wooden wedge at each junction, a squirrel baffle over the base, a square platform surround…there's got to be a creative (but simple) way to make it safer. It's a beautiful piece, I would try to "fix" it rather than replace it.

  11. We’ve been moving some box plants in the garden & discovered the caterpillars on them for the first time this year, having grown Box for 27 years here without a problem. We were discussing this when we looked out the window only to discover a couple of blackbirds, plus half a dozen sparrows eating them with great enthusiasm & also taking them to their young. Very glad they got a good meal out of it. I was expecting Blue Tits would take the most interest, but I haven’t seen them touch them yet.

  12. Loooooove your hearty endorsement for natives—and for removing exotics that outcompete them!

  13. The caterpillar only hits gardens with issues. You don't seem to know this, but insects only attack unhealthy plants (yes, including introduced invasive species). It's been verified for all types of plants. Every single pest that hit the citrus industry in Florida for example was because citrus farmers were doing something wrong. Your plant may not LOOK unhealthy, because plants with excess nitrogen for example look all leafy and green and big. People don't interpret that as a bad sign. It may also just be a monoculture of box shrubs, which is everywhere in France. Entire villages are full of the moth, because too many hedges are only box. If you have a variety of plants, and the box shrubs are used in the right climate, then there is no issue at all even though the moth is known to be in the area. It's been verified time and time again. The "you're missing predators" motto isn't true for insects. You just have unhealthy plants (and overclipping them makes it worse).

    Many people will claim "but that's impossible I'm sure insects attack healthy plants, my garden looks great and I'm under attack". It's wrong, it's just that people have a hard time identifying issues. Here are the common ones : 1) the one I've mentioned : excess fertilizer. And yes, it can be compost, manure or even wood chips if you put too much for years. Most perennials and shrubs like a normal soil, or even a poor soil. People like bigger plants sure, but then buy plants that are bigger in the wild. Don't try to make medium plants artificially enormous, they will get attacked. 2) the other classic of classics is hybrid varieties. Roses is the prime example : so many hybrids that get decimated by aphids… just coz they're hybrids, selected for flowers instead of resistance. 3) Another classic is the wrong type of soil or the wrong type of climate. It's not use trying to do a Mediterranean garden in the North of Scotland, or trying to have wetland plants in the South of France. It's also useless to try to put lupines in alkaline soil. 4) and specifically for box, that are clipped all the time into crazy shapes, this weakens the plant. Having it grown in pot instead of the ground also makes it weaker.

    Once you understand all of this, you will be a much better gardener. If you see some plants getting decimated, don't get the pesticides out, just take the opportunity to try and understand what you did wrong, because it's always the gardener's fault, unless you get a totally unusual wet summer for example.

    For diseases it's the same thing… If you grow hybrid crazy looking tulips, with manure in the soil like you do, whereas wild tulips are much smaller and grow in much drier climates, then of course over time you're gonna have issues (or rather are more likely to have them). Just try botanical varieties of tulips and ease up on the crazy looking ones

    As far as the Spanish bluebell is concerned, the issue is lack of wild boar. Native bluebells grow in areas disturbed by wild boar. If they're not here, the Spanish variety will win. When wild boar have been reintroduced, Spanish bluebells are not invasive, and you get not only native ones but also a huge variety of other plants people don't see much anymore in the wild.

  14. I don’t understand why BT is not allowed in GB. It targets only caterpillars and doesn’t affect other beneficials.

  15. What is that plant you're standing next to, with pink in the leaves? I have a spiderwort that looks like that, it's called "Blushing Bride".

  16. I've got rabbits! They've just eaten all my bean plants twice now – and half the kale and stripped the fennel, nibbled lots of flowering plants, it's disheartening to say the least. We have tried everything including fencing off and netting but alas the little blighters get in and under, they're determined. I will, thanks to your video, be digging up all the Spanish bluebells and fortunately I don't have any box. Also subscription added. Many thanks, we need all the help we can get.

  17. So much time spent on just keeping everything healthy. Worth the work to keep your beautiful garden intact. Keep up the fight.

  18. Thank you for sharing your disasters as well as your successes! It really makes a difference to see that not everything works out in the garden. And I will check my state's invasive list and try to avoid those pretty but thuggish plants.

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