There is nothing like an adventure involving a fishing net, a long suffering neighbour who didn’t hide in time, long armed pruners, a freshly discovered wasp nest and a mislaid fungal timebomb to reflate the spirit.
More of that later. First let me take you back in time (cue soft focus and floaty music) to a time when we were frantically preparing for a visit from The Lord High Horticulturists, yes we must travel one whole week into the past. Now I cannot be alone in experiencing the horror of discovering an enormous spot on the end of my nose having arranged to meet Hunky Herbert for a romantic game of air hockey down the arcade; the new addition to my face leaving this suitor unable to admire my baby blue eyes or lips of scarlet as avoidance of the shining beacon is impossible even when wearing sunglasses. Well that feeling, dormant for many years, re-emerged last week when I spotted a mysterious and very prominent growth at the very top of one of our camellias. After a cursory inspection I did what any responsible gardener would do, muttered a little and hoped the fairies would sort it out. On the day of the visit I passed the afflicted shrub in trepidation. Of course The Honourables never miss a trick and even though I tried the “look at this very interesting thing on the other side of the path” tactic, they spotted it without exception. They even took photos and stood and pointed so no one else would miss it. We had spent weeks choosing an outfit for our special date and it was the big zit that caused a commotion (second only to the dying cherry tree). It was advised that this was a gall and should be removed forthwith to prevent further infection by the spores and whilst waiting for offers of assistance was duly trampled by the stampede to Cafe Cliffe where the cake lurked.
Today was about as forthwith as I could manage. I had one of my cunning plans. This involved Mr D and his fishing net. It was quite simple, like all the best plans, one of us would cut the gall off with long armed pruners whilst the other caught it in the fishing net. Methodology agreed, trajectories calculated, watches synchronised. What happened next is a little blurred, all I can tell you for certain is that I was in charge of catching and I didn’t. We spent the next half hour searching for the absconded gall and at the same time came across, directly under the camellia, a nest of bees/wasps (we didn’t look too closely although they were looking quite closely at us). Just as we (I) was going to give up Mr D found it. I have a feeling that we were a bit late as it looked a little deflated. It may have been a case of closing the stable door after the spores had bolted. On the plus side we found a new wasp/bee nest.
We have learnt some new things today, which is always good. This gall is called Exobasidium camelliae or the Camellia Gall and causes little or no damage to the shrub, only looks a little unsightly to the purist. It can take many shapes from hand to rugby ball and may start off green becoming a creamy colour. Like most fungi wet and humid conditions are ideal for both its spread and growth. Oh, and next time I shouldn’t be in charge of the fishing net!