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Art's Garden & Powdery Mildew on Maple Trees

My own garden here in Parksville, plus a question from and old school chum about powdery mildew on maples trees.
by Art Drysdale
by Art Drysdale


Art Drysdale, a life-long resident of Toronto and a horticulturist well known all across Canada, is now a resident of Parksville, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, just north of Nanaimo. He has reno-vated an old home and has a new garden there. His radio gardening vignettes are heard in south-western Ontario over radio station Easy 101 FM out of Tillsonburg at 2 PM weekdays.

Art also has his own website at

May 29, 2005

Photos of my garden-in-the making here in Parksville. Above, two of a rather nice Rhodo that is just at its best this weekend, Rhododendron ‘Lee’s Best Purple’, one shot with a nice (native) Lewesi cotyledon in the foreground and one a close-up showing its popularity with butterflies; and a larger general shot showing most of our huge arbour and particularly the blue potato vine (Solanum crispum glasnerium) and new Nemesias (annual) in a recently planted basket. Below, a new small wood arbour (beneath the huge green one) that is planted with a Japanese hydrangea vine (Shizophragma hydrangeoides), and the row of perennial Salvia that lines the path from my studio; then one shot of each pond, actually just a small portion of the large pond, showing the newly installed rock fountain and the Clematis on an arbour pillar, and finally a Windsor (on a hook) Paradise Garden Lighting fixture. Note the old black plastic fixture that contrasts starkly with the new unit! Author photos.

As I have been writing and talking about my new garden for almost the last year, several people have recently commented that they had not seen or heard anything specific lately. Well then, here’s an update!

While no aspect of any garden is ever really finished, parts of ours are reaching that point now. It virtually took all of last summer to dig the two ponds, and then wait for two different contractors to turn up to a) pour the concrete base, and b) build the 60-cm-high concrete block walls. That done we were able to line the base and sides with old carpet (both ours and a neighbour’s) and underlay, and then install the Firestone Pond Gard liner. That is not easy in an irregularly-shaped pool, and the edges of ours twist and turn continuously. I kept insisting to myself and others that once the water was in and the water plants growing, no one would notice the creases in the liner. And now, that is exactly the case.

The water lilies and plants arrived in beautiful condition from Moore Water Gardens in Port Stanley Ontario sev-eral weeks ago, and were planted almost immediately. But only in the last few days have we had warm (hot) weather, and just in those days can you see rapid growth of water lily foliage. No flowers yet, but I think I see buds forming. And by the way, the two tropical lilies are still in large containers in our little greenhouse--the deep blue one already in flower! They will remain there until our water temperature in the ponds reaches and stays at about 21o C. (70o F.). So far the highest it has been is Friday when it reached 19o C.

In addition to working on planting in the ponds, and on the little island in the larger pond, we have also been busy planting perennials and some more shrubs in the garden areas around the ponds. This is now almost complete--until I discover some other “cannot resist” plants! Once I get a new page readied for my own Website ( ) showing the progressive photos in developing the garden, you’ll see some of the plants I’ve managed to collect for this new garden.

Water features play a large role in the new garden, as they did in East York, Ontario. But here, there are even more so. The two little ‘pissers’ (one, an authentic Manneken Pis we brought all the way home from Belgium in 1982) are at opposite ends of the small pond (4 x 1.5 m or 13 x 4 ft.). In the large pond (4.5 x 3.6 m or 15 x 12 ft.) in ad-dition to the little island, we have a fairly vigorous upright fountain shooting out of a nicely marked rock (a hole is drilled through the rock). In addition to those, we have a lovely and interesting Henri Studio statuary/fountain on the adjacent cement patio. Great design by Henri Studio! You’ll see photos of the Henri Studio fountain in a future article here, or on my own Website. And, of course you can check them out on the Web as well:

Now, the other item in the garden that needed changing, but we didn’t do anything about it until this year, was the garden lighting. The previous owner had put in an extensive system of garden lights using three different systems on separate transformers. But, they were the older plastic, small wattage lights that didn’t really go with the type of garden I am trying to create here. I did a reasonable bit of research of the different types available, from the cheapest to the most expensive, and there really are some nice units available. On checking with Guy Peters at Humber Nurseries, he said they sold the Paradise Garden Lighting line ( ), and I chose a number of different fixtures in the Estate Collection. We don’t have it all yet, but what we have is just a vast improvement. First, the fixtures are all aluminium, in various finishes and come with standard 10-watt bulbs; except for the two spotlights, one of which is hidden in a rock and lights the fountain in the large pond, while the other disguises as a turtle at the side of the small pond! All fixtures come with a lifetime warranty.

The fixture that is in the picture that accompanies this article is the Windsor-on-a-hook in the Rust finish. It does a beautiful job of lighting the beginning of our path from the driveway.

Paradise don’t just have these 24-volt systems, they also feature 120-volt fixtures, solar fixtures, and ‘Candle Light’ lanterns that are solar operated. Though there is no wax or flame, the ‘Candle Light’ fixtures appear to be lit by real candles.

If you are in the Toronto area you can see the Paradise line at Humber Nurseries, and I am sure you’ll be amazed at the quality and price--to say nothing of the almost unending choice in types of lighting, fixtures, finishes and the amount of light given off.

An old friend (well, he is as old as I am!), Don Bellerby wrote me this week. He and I attended East York Collegiate Institute together in the mid-50s (I didn’t give anything away did I Don?). Here is his question: “Need some advice. Each year our crimson king maple puts out a great show of leaves and then by the mid to end of June a white powder (fungus?) starts to develop on the leaves and within three weeks all the leaves are covered with the white powder. The leaves very quickly after this start to dry up and by the middle of August they have shrivelled up and are basically dead. What is the problem and how do I deal with it?”

Well Don, the problem is an old one--the fungus disease powdery mildew (Uncinula circinata and Phyllactinia corylea). I have seen it often on various Norway type maples, which the ‘Crimson King’ is. It is generally not considered ‘serious’ but if it is ruining the look of the tree then you could not be criticized for being concerned. Recently, arborists have drastically reduced the number of tree diseases and insects for which they will spray, due to various restrictions and criticisms from so-called environmentalists. There are likely a number of chemicals that could be used including Funginex, which I would want to spray on as soon as the leaves are fully developed. But, it is an expensive chemical, and you may have difficulty getting an arborist to spray it. A good ‘old’ (there goes that word again) alternative is wettable sulphur, still available. I suggest you give Ian Bruce of the Bruce Tree Expert Company a call (416-252-8769 or ). He is a fellow graduate of The Niagara Parks Commission Botanical Garden and School of Horticulture and will offer you the real alternatives.

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