Box blight has devastated Longmeadow, Monty Don’s Herefordshire garden and home of BBC2 series Gardeners’ World.
With the series off-air for winter, Monty revealed that much of his carefully-manicured box topiary was heading for the bonfire.
Writing in the Daily Mail’s Weekend magazine, Gardeners’ World presenter Monty said: “My box plants are increasingly looking devastated. It seems that the battle with blight has been lost.
“So we are biting the bullet and taking out and burning a lot of box plants, including 64 box balls that have taken a quarter of a century to grow, and about a quarter of a mile of box hedging. It is a disaster of sorts.”
In 2016, the Royal Horticultural Society rated box blight as number two in its top 10 chart of Britain’s worst plant diseases. The most troublesome problem in the UK was honey fungus.
Monty added: “Change is inevitable and not always welcome. In fact, I realise that the biggest problem – other than climate change which has meant we have wetter, milder winters that greatly assist the spread of fungi – has been the lack of ventilation caused by creating enclosed spaces originally designed to protect plants from the wind.”
As Monty is organic, it is difficult to control box blight. Avoiding overhead watering, and reducing the frequency of clipping are two ways to reduce the risk of outbreaks.
For gardeners who use sprays, Bayer’s Fungus Fighter and Fungus Fighter Plus claim to be recommended for use against box blight.
The RHS says Scotts’ Fungus Clear Ultra Gun is labelled for control of other diseases on ornamentals and “could therefore be used legally on box, at the owners’ risk, to try and control box blight”.