GardenMessenger

This blog reviews the latest products, plants and innovations in gardening. It also provides a link for my many gardening friends who are members of the GardenMessenger and Seedmessenger Yahoo groups and their sub-groups that I moderate.

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Location: Australia

I am a semi-retired UK botanical garden curator and former international horticultural consultant, who has worked extensively in Europe, the Middle East, North America and Australia. I spend part of the year in Australia and part in Europe, mainly due to family and work commitments. I earn my living from writing and editing Internet copy, articles and books. I have written over fifty books on gardening and have been translated into twenty-four different languages. I am a former UK Garden Writer of the Year and a previous Quill & Trowel Award Winner from the Garden Writer’s Association of America. I am interested in developing gardening communities on the Internet and I manage the popular GardenMessenger Yahoo group, along with its various sub-groups like PondMessenger and SeedMessenger. I also edit International Water Gardener and its associated regional web-sites.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Welcome to the Manure Analysing Machine

Almost instant analysis

A Manure Analysing Machine

A prototype manure-analysing device that works off a car or truck battery has been built by a United States Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist. Chemist James B. Reeves at the ARS Environmental Management and Byproduct Utilization Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, designed the portable, easy-to-use analyser so that farmers and growers can quickly tell how much nitrogen and water are in a sample of manure. Many growers apply manure to their crops as an organic fertilizer, but it can sometimes be too much of a good thing. They apply too much because they are not sure how much nitrogen or phosphorus might be in it and decide to err on the side of excess. However, excess nutrients frequently run off in rainwater and eventually pollute streams, lakes and other bodies of water.

To determine how much nitrogen or phosphorus manure contains, it is possible to send samples to a laboratory for analysis, but that takes time and money. Usually only one sample is sent. According to Reeves, a one-sample analysis cannot reflect the nutrient levels that often vary throughout a manure heap. The prototype analyser passes invisible, near-infrared light through filters onto about two tablespoons of manure placed in a small cup. The amount of light reflected back allows a filter spectrometer to quantify both the nitrogen and water content. Manure samples require no preparation or chemicals, and the analysis takes about a minute.The prototype analyser is a 38cm (15in) cube that weighs about 9kg (20lb). Reeves plans to make it even smaller, ideally about the size of a shoe box and weighing around 2.25kg (5lb).

For further gardening news from the News pages of the GardenMessenger web-site click here.

Happy Gardening

Philip

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Puerto Rican Introductions

Being evaluated - Simarouba tulae

Thanks to Agricultural Research Service (ARS) germplasm collection efforts, the rare Puerto Rican Tabebuia haemantha, an evergreen tree that is small in stature but bold in colour, may one day be grown and sold to gardeners and landscapers in Florida and other subtropical regions of the United States. Native to Puerto Rico, T. haemantha, also known as Roble Cimarron, possesses many features of interest to ornamental horticulturists. Its red to bronze-coloured new growth naturally forms a narrow crown, and it has deep-red to pink flowers for a long period of the year.

Under the direction of horticulturist Tomás Ayala-Silva, curator of the National Germplasm Repository located at ARS’s Subtropical Horticulture Research Station in Miami, new ornamentals like the Puerto Rican tree are being investigated. The repository is one of eighteen such repositories for seeds and other reproducible plant parts maintained in the National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS). The Miami repository is responsible for maintaining U.S. clonal collections of avocado, banana, mango, plantain, sugarcane, ornamentals, and other tropical crops. One of its important roles is evaluating new subtropical and tropical species for possible introduction to commerce and home gardeners.

To read the complete article and to catch up on other gardening news visit the News pages of the GardenMessenger web-site click here.

Happy Gardening

Philip

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

New Citrus Root Weevil Control

Adult Citrus Root Weevil

Two strains of a tiny worm-like nematode could give citrus growers and home gardeners a more effective natural way to control the serious pest known as Citrus Root Weevil, Diaprepes abbreviatus. Thanks to research by United States Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists, the commercial production of the nematode Steinernema riobrave has been licensed by BioControl Systems of Greendale, Indiana.

Entomologist David Shapiro-Ilan, at the ARS South-eastern Fruit and Tree Nut Research Laboratory in Byron, Georgia, with Clay McCoy and Robin Stuart at the University of Florida, found the two S. riobrave strains in Texas and Mexico. The naturally occurring roundworms kill the pests but don't harm people or the environment.

According to Shapiro-Ilan, S. riobrave generally ranks as the best beneficial nematode for biological control applications against larvae of the Citrus Root Weevil. Native to the Caribbean Islands, D. abbreviatus was first reported in Florida in 1964 and has become a major pest of citrus and many other plants grown in the state. It is sometimes referred to as the Diaprepes Root Weevil.
Earlier this year, Donald Sturniolo, owner of BioControl Systems, licensed the technology from ARS. Since then, the nematodes have been mass-reared and stockpiled for future large-scale trials. These new strains also apparently have the potential to control other important pests, such as Plum Curculio, Pecan Weevil and Corn Earworm.

Happy Gardening

Philip

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Monday, August 28, 2006

Beating the Potato Tuber Moth

Adult Potato Tuber Moth

The Potato Tuber Moth, Phthorimaea operculella, is quickly earning a bad reputation among potato growers and gardeners in the United States. However, its rise to infamy may well be close to an end through its exposure to a type of insect pathogen called a granulovirus. In July, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in Wapato, Washington, began testing the granulovirus' potential to biologically control the moth's caterpillar stage, which feeds on both the potato plant and its tubers. Once ingested, the granulovirus could put a stop to such feeding by liquefying the caterpillar's tissues—starting from the inside out—in ten to twenty days. Except for a few other Potato Tuber Moth relatives, this highly specific pathogen does not infect other insects, nor humans or other mammals, according to Lawrence Lacey, an entomologist with the ARS Yakima Agricultural Research Laboratory, Wapato.

There, Lacey and ARS colleague entomologist Steven Arthurs, are studying ways to biologically produce and formulate the granulovirus as a bio-pesticide product that potato growers and gardeners could spray on their crops before harvest when synthetic insecticides are not used. Another potential use is on stored potatoes. Although the granulovirus is already used in other countries to protect stored potatoes from infestation, it is not commercially available in the United States and limited research has been done investigating the pathogen's pre-harvest potential. Besides the granulovirus, which is now being field-tested under a federal experimental-use permit, Lacey's group is also examining the biological control potential of the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, two species of insect-specific nematodes, and the fungus Muscodor albus.
Photo:IPTEK

Happy Gardening

Philip

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Friday, August 25, 2006

A New Disease Resistant Gooseberry

Gooseberry 'Jeanne'

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in the United States have developed and released a new disease and pest-resistant dessert gooseberry called ‘Jeanne’. Sweet and sturdy, this new high quality, late-fruiting gooseberry was developed by ARS scientists at the National Clonal Germplasm Repository (NCGR) in Corvallis, Oregon. ‘Jeanne’ is named for a former NCGR employee. As with other Ribes species, gooseberries are generally susceptible to white pine blister rust. While the disease causes them little harm, it can be devastating or fatal to pine trees. The ‘Jeanne’ cultivar is highly resistant to white pine blister rust and to powdery mildew, the latter being the greatest threat to global gooseberry production. The plant's robustness protects it from insect threats as well. ‘Jeanne’ has a strong resistance to pests like aphids and sawflies. This and its high-quality fruit make it ideal for home garden plantings or commercial gooseberry production.

How does Jeanne measure up against other cultivars? According to NCGR research leader Kim Hummer, it produces green berries which ripen to a deep red as they mature. It also boasts a higher yield than similar cultivars such as ‘Invicta’ and ‘Captivator’. Scientists project that ‘Jeanne’, whose dark, sweet berries are well suited to desserts, juices and jams, could extend the production season for gooseberries because it blooms and produces fruit about one to two weeks later than other red gooseberry cultivars. The NCGR has provided ‘Jeanne’ plant material to several nurseries that will propagate the gooseberry for sale to home gardeners.
Photo: USDA

Happy Gardening

Philip

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

New Australian Waterlilies

Nymphaea georginae

Three new Australian species of waterlilies that are native to Queensland have been described by Australian expert Dr. Surrey Jacobs of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney and leading American botanist Dr. Barre Hellquist. The discovery of three new species has resulted from the on-going investigation into the aquatic plants, of Australia, which until recently have all been poorly studied both botanically and horticulturally.

Understanding the cultural needs of these wonderful exotic waterlilies will be much easier now that the nature of the individual species and their natural habitats have been studied. At present very few water gardeners succeed in growing any of the beautiful tropical Australian waterlilies to their full potential. They appear to have exacting requirements that most gardeners find difficult to meet. So they have never attained the popularity that they deserve, despite the fact that several of the more common species have been available to gardeners from specialist nurseries for over one hundred years. The three new species that have been described are Nymphaea alexii, Nymphaea georginae and Nymphaea carpentariae.
Photo: B.Hellquist

For further information visit Water Gardening News click here.

Happy Gardening

Philip

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Propagating and Labelling


The Compact Rootrainer
The original Rootrainer was developed for commercial growers and for some years has been widely used in the nursery industry, especially by those who raise trees and shrubs from seed and cuttings. It is now available to the home gardener as the new Compact Rootrainer Tray. It contains twenty hinged, easy open "books" or cells, and is smaller than the original Rootrainer. An easy to handle, lightweight tray design rather than a traditional Rootrainer frame, the Compact uses less space and compost and is ideal for window ledges, hobby greenhouses and cold frames. Gardeners who are not familiar with the Rootrainer system should visit their web-site for more information click here.


New Method of Labelling

Brother GL-100

The Brother electronic GL-100 is a gadget for printing durable labels that are perfect for all gardening purposes. The labels are also ideal for labelling storage jars for anyone who makes own jams and preserves, as well as for other applications around the home. The GL-100’s laminated labels can withstand extreme temperatures and are totally resilient to humidity and rain.

Many more new gardening products can be seen on the GardenMessenger web-site click here.

Happy Gardening

Philip

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Plant of the Month - Kniphofia

Kniphofia 'Shining Sceptre'


Kniphofia, or Red-Hot-Poker, have been designated as Plant of the Month for August by the Dutch nursery industry. Kniphofias are bold, handsome natives of Madagascar and tropical South Africa. They have thick, almost succulent evergreen leaf blades, which are of interest even when the dense cylindrical flower spikes are absent, although in cold districts the leaves are often tied together to protect the crowns and are then covered with straw. Numerous hybrids have been derived from species such as Kniphofia praecox, K. uvaria, and K. triangularis and all make a great contribution to the summer garden. Their blossoms vary in colour from pale yellow, through a range of yellow shades and oranges to red, some being bicoloured with red and yellow flower spikes. Kniphofias requires a warm and sunny spot in the border and a very well-drained humus-rich soil. A range of cultivars have been selected and recommended by the Dutch nursery industry as being amongst the most representative of the genus and the most reliable. These are illustrated on the News pages of the GardenMessenger web-site click here.

Happy Gardening

Philip

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Monday, August 21, 2006

The Cure for Dog Spotting on the Lawn!

Before treatment


After treatment


Dog Rocks are apparently a great innovation from Australia, which it is said have proved to be effective in overcoming the age-old problem of dog spotting on the lawn. Dog Rock is a natural product - paramagnetic igneous rock - which is placed permanently in the dog’s drinking water and ensures that instead of the urine burning the grass, it is actually transformed into a nutrient-valuable and harmless substance. An individual rock apparently has an effective life of two months. For further details click here.
Photos: Dog Rocks

I have added a New Products section to the GardenMessenger web-site click here.

Happy Gardening

Philip

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Friday, August 18, 2006

The Latest French Lavenders

Lavandula 'Little Bee' series

The international Plantarium exhibition, which is being held towards the end of August in The Netherlands, will include a promotion of modern cultivars of the French Lavender Lavandula stoechas, some of which are to be displayed for the first time. All are in the ‘Little Bee’ series.

Little Bee Cream 'Florvendula Cream' was bred at the Florensis Quedlinburg nursery in Quedlinburg, Germany. It is an upright, compact plant with grey, oblong leaves, and is an early bloomer. The white flowers appear from late spring until late summer.

Little Bee Purple ‘Florvendula Purple’ is also from the Florensis Quedlinburg nursery. The growth is compact and upright, and the oblong leaves are grey. It is an early bloomer, with purple flowers from late spring until late summer.

Little Lilac Bee 'Florvendula Lilac' is an upright compact lavender, but the oblong, needle-shaped grey leaves. The plant branches well and flowers from late spring until late summer.

Little Bee Blue White ‘Florvendula Blue White' originated in the Florensis Quendlinburg nursery. This is an upright, compact and well-branching lavender that flowers early. Its oblong leaves are grey and needle-shaped. The blossoms have blue tubes and white pennants and appear from late spring until late summer.

For more new plants, visit the New Plants pages of the GardenMessenger website click here.

Happy Gardening

Philip

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

A New Albizia from Japan


A new Albizia called Albizia julibrissin 'Summer Chocolate' has been introduced by André Briant Jeunes Plants, St. Barthélemy d’Anjou, France. 'Summer Chocolate' has a usual composite leaf form, but the foliage is a striking purple-red colour. The flowers are red and appear during the summer. The distinctive green seed pods are produced during the autumn. Like all Albizia species and cultivars this new hybrid must be provided with protection in cold winter districts.‘Summer Chocolate' was produced by Mr. Masato Yokoi in Japan.
For details of other new plant introductions on the GardenMessenger web-site visit the New Plants pages click here.

Happy Gardening

Philip

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Water Gardening News


Today I have launched a new blog entitled Water Gardening News. This replaces the original PondMessenger blog, which for several months has been associated with this one, and has served the PondMessenger community of water gardeners. Water Gardening News is devoted to bringing the latest news and information about aquatic plants, ornamental fish and pond products from around the world to hobbyist water gardeners and those who are involved in the pond-keeping business. PondMessenger is now creating a new home within the developing regional web-sites of International Horticultural Communications Pty Ltd. In addition a monthly regional PondMessenger eNewsletter is being published in collaboration with the Water Gardener web-sites. I hope that apart from visiting this blog, if you have a garden pond you will also check in regularly with Water Gardening News.

To visit Water Gardening News click here.

Happy Gardening

Philip

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Inca Collection of Alstromerias

'Inca Exotica'

The Inca Collection is a group of new cultivars of the hardy perennial Peruvian Lily or Alstroemeria, that has been produced by specialist Dutch breeder Könst Alstroemeria BV and is being launched at the end of August. The collection is highly recommended for both growing in the garden border or as container plants on the deck or patio. They all flower freely between late spring and early summer, reaching a height of 40–80cm (14-28in). The stems are also long enough for picking for cut flowers for the house.

Alstroemeria 'Konevotio' Inca Devotion - pink flowers of 6-7cm.
Alstroemeria 'Koexotica' Inca Exotica - yellow flowers of 5-6cm.
Alstroemeria 'Koglow' Inca Glow - dark red flowers of 4-5cm.
Alstroemeria 'Kolce' Inca Ice - cream-white flowers of 5-6cm.
Alstroemeria 'Konpulse' Inca Pulse - red flowers of 5-6cm.

The foregoing names are those under which the plants are currently being marketed. However, it is likely that these will be rationalised soon to comply with international standards of plant nomenclature.

To see illustrations of all the new cultivars visit the New Plants section of the GardenMessenger web-site click here.

Happy Gardening

Philip

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Monday, August 14, 2006

2006 New Waterlily Competition Results

Nymphaea 'Tan-khwan'


The winners of the 2006 New Waterlily Competition of the International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society have been announced.

Best New Waterlily - ‘Avalanche’ (Craig Presnell - United States)

Best New Tropical Waterlily - ‘Avalanche’ (Craig Presnell - United States)

Runner Up - ‘Pink Flamingo’ - (Craig Presnell - United States)

Best New Hardy Waterlily - 'Tan-khwan - (Pairat Songpanich - Thailand)

Runner Up - ‘Niki' - (Andreas Protopapas - Cyprus)

Further details click here.

Happy Gardening

Philip

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Friday, August 11, 2006

New Asclepias for 2007

Asclepias 'Beauty'

Three new Asclepias cultivars produced by Mr. Nardo Zaias of Miami Beach in the United States, are being introduced to the public and horticultural trade for the first time at the famous annual Plantarium horticultural exhibition in The Netherlands towards the end of August. These new cultivars will be available to gardeners in limited numbers during 2007. All three are herbaceous plants, but according to their introducer are best grown in tubs or containers. They all have upright branching stems and produce flowers in neat umbels from late spring until late summer. The blossoms of 'Maggy' are orange-red and yellow, 'Kiki' has orange and yellow flowers, while those of 'Beauty' are orange-red and light-yellow.

For further information about new plant introduction visit the GardenMessenger web-site click here.

Happy Gardening

Philip

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

A New Scented Bamboo

Phyllostachys atrovaginata ‘Green Perfume’

Phyllostachys atrovaginata ‘Green Perfume’ is a new winter-hardy bamboo, which is shortly to be introduced to gardeners by Dutch bamboo specialist Jan Oprins. It is will be sold in garden centres under the "Bamboo Select" brand. Originating from China, it is a straight, upright-growing plant, which reaches a height of 5-8m (16-26ft). Compared with other Phyllostachys species and cultivars, this bamboo has relatively small leaves, but stalks that are fairly thick. The shoots are edible. When the young stalks are rubbed the scent of incense is released. This bamboo is difficult to propagate and has so far only been increased commercially in-vitro, but the company producing it have said that it should be freely available from September onwards. It enjoys damp conditions and flourishes in wet soils.

For further information about new plant introductions, visit the New Plants section on the GardenMessenger web-site click here.

Happy Gardening

Philip

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Bright New Conifer Introduction

Thuja plicata ‘4Ever’

A new Thuja cultivar called Thuja plicata ‘4Ever’ has been developed by Hortis Holland BV, Rijswijk, The Netherlands. It is a mutant selected from Thuja plicata 'Martin' and has just been formally named. It will be released shortly in Europe. The plant has been produced by Boo Dries Luijten BV, Steensel, The Netherlands, which is also marketing the plant this year. Thuja plicata '4ever' has an upright and compact form of growth. The foliage is gold-yellow and changes to red in the autumn. This conifer is completely winter-hardy.

For information about other new plant introductions visit the New Plants section of the GardenMessenger web-site click here.

Happy Gardening

Philip

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

An Exciting New Begonia Hybrid

Begonia 'Jolly'

This is an exciting new hybrid between a tuberous Begonia species and a tuberous cultivar. Called 'Jolly', the plant has a round upright habit and grows up to a height of 25cm (10in). The rounded leaves are bright green, dark green or brown, depending upon the colour of the flowers. The flowers are around 3 cm (just over 1in) in diameter and are apricot, scarlet or red. It has a long flowering season and is suitable for pot or container cultivation on terrace or balcony. Photo: Benary

To keep up to date with all the latest plant introductions, visit the GardenMessenger New Plants pages click here.

Happy Gardening

Philip

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Monday, August 07, 2006

National Trust Dahlia Displays

'Bishop of Llandaff'

The National Trust for England and Wales is undertaking a revival in the cultivation of the Dahlia in a number of the gardens that it manages. According to the National Trust, thanks to recent television features and an increase in the cultivars available, the delights of dahlia growing have been re-discovered and they are firmly back on top in the gardening fashion stakes.

The following are gardens where the National Trust maintain important collections, together with their notes of what to look out for at each garden.

Llanerchaeron, Ceredigion, Tel: +44 (0)1545 570200
This rare example of a self-sufficient eighteenth-century Welsh estate has survived virtually unaltered, including the walled kitchen gardens where the dahlias can be found. They are grown to provide cut flowers for the house, and cultivars include the ‘Bishop of Llandaff’, an old-fashioned type producing fiery intense blooms above dramatic bronze/purple foliage.

Cragside Gardens, Northumberland, Tel: +44 (0)1669 620333
This famous Victorian estate was the wonder of its age and gardeners continue the tradition of planting over 30 different types of Dahlia (800 individual tubers), to form the spectacular Dahlia Walk. The design changes every year, but always with a single coloured edge to draw the eye along the bed (this year, ‘Autumn Fairy’ – a peachy pink). New for this year is ‘Big Wow’ which has a large deep red flower, but old favourites on show include ‘Hayley Jane’, a gorgeous creamy white cultivar with quilled petals and raspberry tips, and ‘Natal, a deep maroon pom-pom cultivar.

For further details of gardens with dahlia collections and other gardening news on the GardenMessenger web-site click here.

Happy Gardening

Philip

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Friday, August 04, 2006

Tree Blossoming Research

Flowering mechanisms understood

Swedish scientists at the Umeaa Plant Science Centre, working with researchers in the United States, are claiming a decisive breakthrough in understanding the mechanisms by which trees control their flowering - and also time their preparations for winter. They successfully stimulated aspen trees to flower within a few weeks instead of the normal 10-15 years. They found that trees use the same gene as annual plants to control the onset of flowering. However, the discovery that they could control the trees' preparations for winter was an unexpected revelation.

The ability of trees to cycle between dormancy and growth is a crucial strategy for their adaptation. Scientists have documented the phenomenon of crucial day lengths in some detail, since dormancy is triggered by the length of day rather than the prevailing temperature. Thus, an Aspen in central Germany will stop growing and set buds when the days are just 16 hours long. The same species of tree in northern Sweden will prepare for winter when the days are shorter than 21 hours, while further north in Norway, the equivalent day length can be 23 hours. The starting point for the Umeaa team was to speed up the rate at which plant material can be developed, with the long term aim of truncating breeding cycle times. The additional insight into the mechanism by which growth can be turned on and off is expected to be a landmark in forest tree breeding.

For this and further gardening news on the GardenMessenger web-site click here.

Happy Gardening

Philip

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

UK Citrus Longhorn Beetle Search

Citrus Longhorn Beetle

The UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) are asking for the public's help to find any Citrus Longhorn Beetles (Anoplophora chinensis ) that may be in the UK. The beetle is a quarantine listed pest that could pose a threat to trees in the UK. A small number of adult beetles, believed to be Citrus Longhorns were found emerging from a potted Japanese maple tree in a private garden in Shropshire early in July. One of these beetles was caught, photographed and then released before the beetles' identity was discovered. Last year similar sightings were made in Hampshire and Lancashire.

The Citrus Longhorn Beetle originates in Asia, but it has been moving around the world in internationally traded bonsai and young trees. There is currently an outbreak of this pest in northern Italy. Although predominately a pest of citrus and apples, the beetle can also attack a number of other trees including beech, hazel, oak, maple and birch. The larvae of the beetle are the most damaging. They bore through the trunks, upper roots and branches of host trees leaving them susceptible to wind damage and disease. Later, perhaps two years after the first attack, the larvae will pupate and then emerge in the late summer as adult insects which will quickly seek out new host trees. The females lay their eggs in slits they chew in the bark. The long period between egg laying and adult emergence explains how this pest can be moved from one country to another in young plants.

The beetles are large, 21-37mm long (about 1-1.5 inches), excluding the antennae, and black with variable white markings on their backs. Their antennae (horns) are longer than their bodies and are black with white or light blue coloured bands. Late July to early September is thought to be the time of year when this pest is most likely to be seen. Anyone who spots a beetle that they suspect is a Citrus Longhorn Beetle, should trap it if possible and report the finding to the local office of the Plant Health and Seed Inspectorate (PHSI) or the PHSI HQ, York on 01904 455174 as soon as possible.

For more gardening news stories visit the GardenMessenger web-site click here.

Happy Gardening

Philip

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

New Low Allergen Apple Developed

Apple 'Santana'

Researchers at a Dutch university have developed a low allergenic apple that can safely be eaten by those normally allergic to the fruit. An estimated 2% of people in western Europe are allergic to apples because of certain proteins in the fruit.The protein that causes the most problems in allergy sufferers is called Mal d1, which causes itching, prickling and a swelling of the lips, tongue and throat after consumption of a fresh apple. Scientists at the University of Wageningen in The Netherlands say their new apple, called ‘Santana’, which looks like the popular ‘Elstar’ cultivar, will not cause any allergic reactions.

The creation of the ‘Santana’ apple (a hybrid between ‘Elstar’ and ‘Priscilla’) came after post-graduate student Zhongshan Gao identified and localised genes involved in the allergenicity of the fruit after first combining its genetic data with the results of skin-prick tests in allergic patients. The aim of Gao’s study was to trace and characterise the genes that are decisive for the amino-acid compound of the four most-important allergenic protein types (Mal d1 – Mal d4). Another goal of his project was to develop genetic markers for predicting at the seedling stage whether an apple contains allergenic proteins. The researcher found 26 genes, 18 of which coded for the Mal d1 protein – an allergen especially relevant to patients in north-western Europe, who also suffer from hay fever in the spring in reaction to birch pollen. The university is currently working on developing allergy-free pears and peaches. Photo: PRI.

For this and further gardening news on the GardenMessenger web-site click here.

Happy Gardening

Philip

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Plum Pox Virus Hits New York

Plum Pox on apricot

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Plant Germplasm and Biotechnology Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, has confirmed the presence of the Plum Pox virus (PPV) - sometimes known as Sharka - on plum tree leaf samples collected by New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYSDAM) officials. As part of a seven-year survey for the virus, state and federal agriculture officials collected 22 leaf samples from a 108-tree orchard located in Niagara County, New York within five miles of plum pox eradication zones in Canada. The samples were sent to Cornell University’s diagnostic laboratory for testing, where researchers obtained positive results.

The virus was first detected in Canada in 2000. The strain of virus identified in New York is identical to the D strain of the virus found in both Canada and Pennsylvania. The D strain of the virus is less virulent than other strains, making it easier to contain. Its early discovery of is credited to the department’s active surveys for plant pests and diseases. Survey specialists are currently surveying a 5-mile radius surrounding the initial detection to determine the extent of infestation. USDA will establish a co-operative eradication program with the state of New York. The program will include conducting extensive detection and delimiting surveys, establishing quarantine areas where infestations are found, and the removal of infested orchards and other host material within a buffer area of any infestation.

Plum Pox is a virus disease of stone fruits that first appeared in the United States in Pennsylvania in October 1999. The plant virus does not pose any human health risks. Since the discovery, agriculture officials there have successfully contained its spread. New York is only the second state where plum pox has been detected. The virus affects a number of fruits, including peach, nectarine, apricot and plum. Several aphid species can serve as carriers of the virus. The virus stays viable in the aphid’s mouth-parts for a period of an hour and most aphids can generally transmit infection several hundred metres from the initial source plant. Photo: Wikipedia

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Happy Gardening

Philip

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