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Craft Skills and Training
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Questions and Answers
A selection from Ask the Expert section in Topiarius

Q I have box balls in containers and one morning I discovered them covered with little flecks of white. When I knocked the plants the ‘white’ flew off. What is it?
A It’s box psyllid, a harmless sap-sucker. It emerges in April and as it does it exudes a protective white fluff as well as sticky honeydew. Its feeding activities cause the newest leaves to distort and the shoot tips look like mini brussel sprouts! If you open these buds up you’ll discover a flat green bug which eventually turns into a fly. It seems particularly fond of dwarf box.

Q How do you go about feeding box and yew?
A When planting a yew hedge apply a good fertiliser e.g blood, fish and bone or use 12-18 month old manure at the base of the trench and back fill with soil. After that, you can just let it get on with it. Be careful when using stockyard manure to prpare ground for yew. You can overdo it and it acts like a sponge holding too much moisture.

Q Is foliar feeding an option?
A Don’t use it on taxus and not for stock growing in the ground. You might use it for plants in pots but make sure that any fertiliser applied in liquid form is washed off because in hot sunny weather it can cause leaf scorch.

Q What regime would you propose for growing topiary in pots long-term?
A Use a soil based growing medium such as John Innes and apply a slow release fertiliser once a year. Begin root pruning plants once they begin to look unhappy. The end of winter or early spring is a good time because you’re over the worst of the bad weather and the sun is not too harsh. Back fill with fresh compost.
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A report by EBTS in 1997 on work on a new project.
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