Last Spring I spent a few hundred dollars and many, many hours putting in some basic landscaping in the front yard. It had been a blank slate before, nothing but grass and rock, and I don't like blank. I like lush and green and overflowing and flowering and smelly-- good smelly--gardens. I made a small patio surrounded by Skimmia, euonymous, Sweet William, a low growing flowering moss, white roses, Lily of the Nile, Evergreen Clematis, a Crabapple tree, and a few more perrenials stuck in to fill it out a little. It was really exciting to watch the new landscaping grow and begin to fill in throughout last summer and fall and now this spring.
However, there was one problem with the Skimmia, a small green, glossy shrub with white yummy smelling flowers in spring and red berries in winter. It was turning yellow and then brown. But it wasn't along the whole leaf and it wasn't every leaf, just a few especially on the top of the bush. I gave them extra water--no change. I gave them extra compost--no change. I gave them extra fertilizer--nothing! I had no idea what to do for my bushes! Finally, at my mother's insistence, I picked a few of the leaves off the bush and took them to the Washington State University Extension Center in Tacoma.
The extension Master Gardeners knew what was wrong. Within minutes I had a diagnoses and a cure. Diagnoses: sunburn, Cure: move the plants to a spot with less sun. Can you believe that my plants got sunburn! in Washington!! Apparantly they are a partial shade plant and I had not checked labels. I felt kinda dumb. The Master Gardeners reassured me and told me they had done similar dumb things before. They quickly rattled off a list of great alternatives with the qualities I wanted. They were very, very helpful.
This weekend I spent a few hours pulling up the Skimmia and replaced them with 'Spring Bouquet' Vibernum. I placed the Skimmia in a more light appropriate location on the side yard. The new plants have slightly glossy leaves and will have big puffy white flowers in the spring that turn pink. The new leaves are a light green and darken over time. The bushes are very small this year but will quickly grow to about 3-4 feet in all directions. And most importantly they can take full sun all day long!
Do you ever have problems with your plants that you can't solve on your own? Try calling or going to your local extension center and talking with a Master Gardener.
Pierce County Master Gardeners
WSU Pierce County Extension
3049 S 36 Street Suite 300
Tacoma WA 98409