Sudden Oak Death
Now is the time of year to keep a careful eye out for signs of Phytophthora ramorum (otherwise known as Sudden Oak Death or SOD) on Rhododendron ponticum and to burn and destroy any suspicious material, Phytophthora ramorum develops in the new growth of Rhododendron ponticum which wilts and then goes black. The disease is most noticeable in hot humid weather conditions and will not necessarily kill more than a few twigs or branches in the first year. However, to prevent further infection you should act immediately to remove and burn infected plant material. Although already endemic throughout the UK this is still a notifiable disease which should be reported to your local Plant Health inspector from Defra.
Wasps are at their most prevalent now so be prepared with stocks of wasp killer powder to deal with the problem when the nests are located. On sunny evenings spend a few moments watching the most likely places where wasps are likely to nest – usually underground on hot dry sunny banks but sometimes nests can be found hanging in more dense shrubs or from the eaves. If nests are small tip the powder down the entrance hole after dark or be prepared to make a quick exit. For larger more aggressive nests you will need to find a long piece of thick pipe with a curve on the end. You can then tip or blow the powder into the entrance from the curved end of the pipe while standing a yard or two away.
Green Laburnum seed pods look particularly attractive to children who may think they are pea pods. They are in fact extremely poisonous. Cut off and remove all those seed trusses which are within easy reach.