Our good-sized tree (not old, but mature) and a couple of our prized shrubs are dying. We can't find any insects or diseases on any of them. What do we do to save them?
This year, many well-established trees and shrubs are reported to be succumbing to abnormal weather conditions. Normally, spring and fall rains enable plants to recuperate from summer drought. However, in the past few years we have experienced drought in spring and fall also. By the time a plant shows wilt, it has already suffered some root injury, even when watering revives it. Drought stress, in turn, makes plants susceptible to disease, like canker diseases. If possible, water your plants, cut out dead wood and, in the case of your tree, call a certified arborist for help.
Freeze fresh basil in plastic containers. Store dried herbs in glass jars away from light and heat.
Plant garlic from now through the end of October for a July 4 harvest.
Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, works at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, and David Clement is the regional specialist. The center offers Maryland residents free gardening information. Call the center's "hotline" at 800-342-2507 (8 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday-Friday) or e-mail plant and pest questions through the Send a Question feature at hgic.umd.edu.