When I was growing up, my family was the odd Christmas duck. We had no tree. I know you are now tempted to get on Google Earth and look for the bunker from which I emerged an adult, but I shan’t disclose. Instead of a tree, each year my parents decorated the whole downstairs with clipped juniper boughs from the mass planting we maintained on our suburban lot. The rooms would fill with the pleasant smell of juniper.
There is increasing danger associated with purchasing greenery to make wreaths, swags, garlands and such. Commercially harvested greenery available at retail outlets is often coming harvested outside the Midwest and shipped, with regionally specific pest and diseases riding along. An excellent example is boxwood blight, which was recently detected in Michigan and Indiana. This pathogen is a serious concern. Boxwood blight attacks landscape ornamentals in the Buxaceae family, which includes the ubiquitous Pachysandra. Catching pathogens like this is the best means we have of preventing its spread. This is why early detection systems like INDNR, APHIS, the National Plant Diagnostic Network and partnerships like the Sentinel Plant Network (of which Wellfield is a member) are so important.
What can you do? First, read bulletin links like those listed above, then check any material you are purchasing for signs and symptoms. Second, rethink your source. Get creative. There are numerous regional and local options for greenery to consider. Like my parents, you could harvest right from your garden for a little Christmas cheer. Merry Christmas!
Josh Steffen, Horticulture and Facilities Manager