[My garden] is a confusion of kitchen and parterre, orchard and flower garden, which lie so mixt and interwoven with one another, that if a foreigner, who had seen nothing of our country, should be conveyed into my garden at his first landing, he would look upon it as a natural wilderness, and one of the uncultivated parts of our country.
Joseph Addison, The Tatler (1710)
Judging by all the search engine terms I see leading people to my website (www.jury.co.nz), buxus blight is currently running rampant. In summary, if your buxus has turned brown all over, it is dead. If it has big dead patches and some green left, odds on you have buxus blight. All species of buxus get it but it is worst on the most common ones we use here – B. sempervirens and var. suffriticosa. It is a fungus – cylindrocladium – and it is a problem throughout the world where buxus is grown. Being a fungus means that it is spread by spore and these light little packages of blight can be spread by wind.
You can treat buxus blight but you can’t cure it. As soon as you stop treating it, the dead patches will start again. Untreated, you are likely to lose the lot eventually and it will look most unattractive in the process. I know of people who are keeping it at bay by using copper sprays and there will be fungicides that will knock it on the head for a while. The trouble is that the repeated use of copper sprays is not good for the environment (eventually you can get a build up that kills earthworms) and fungicides are not the nicest of sprays. It is unlikely that natural sprays using baking soda are of sufficient strength to be effective.
In the end, the decision really is whether you are willing to spray your buxus from here to eternity. Be grateful if you do not have the blight.
First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.