I've been thinking about this, Mark, and I am realizing something. Maybe it doesn't matter for the moment what kind of hedge it is. The important thing is that part of it is dying. I just looked closely at the first picture again, and as far as I can tell the brown part is from top to bottom. I'm thinking that maybe you should get down and look up under the hedge. If all the damage is confined to one section, perhaps it's only one shrub in the hedge that is affected.
I don't know why one or two plants might be sick and the others okay, but there are several possibilities, including too much water in that spot, buried construction rubble that their roots finally reached, etc.
It's unfortunately not just in one place, there are three or four sections. However, in the meantime I suspect I've found the answer to why those bushes are dying, actually I noticed it better this morning.
The theory is that we have two cats and have done so since last Spring. During the spring, summer and autumn the garden is properly watered three or four times a week. Over the winter it is a lot less often. I noticed that the two cats are usually going to pee etc in more or less the same places. I think over the winter the amount of urine has not been washed away and the poisons have built up. Maybe.
Once again,don't know what this is...but,have several dozen coming up in the" back forty". I'm thinking maybe Don C. might know it as I feel somehow certain that this is a food item in Mexican cooking. Bixa,have you per chance run across it again since this posting last year? Am on a mission to find out!
Wow ~~ I'd completely forgotten about this. When I saw your post today, I thought drat, I think I flushed those pictures. But no! They were all stashed away and I'm posting them below. You'll see they're identical to what you have. Your pictures reminded me of something I failed to do and that is crucial to identification. That is, to always put something in the photo for a size reference. Because of the hand in two of your pics, I can conclusively say that the objects I saw are the same size as your mystery gourds.
I haven't seem them since, but it seems to me that when I saw them in October they rang a memory bell.
Okay, I am now on the case, but have just started to look. In the meantime, here are some things the mystery plant is NOT. It is also not a Cucurbita ficifolia, even though that species name sounded so promising, nor is it a C. foetidissima. Those are all things I followed up after finding them referenced under gourds of N. America searches.
Thanks Bixa,yes,was able to rule out many with that. It's growing like crazy back there,am having to judiciously pull up many,haven't tried to transplant any,may try and put one in a pot to take to some friends who would probably like it and hopefully ID. May also train some to grow up a small trellis this year since I have so many to "play"with...last year I just let it go. But,the question lurks,what is it? I think we'll figure it out... I have tasted it and is bland,bland...seeds a tiny bit sweet.
Although the bitter gourd or bitter melon (Momordica charantia) is common throughout the New World tropics, it is actually native to the Old World. It is a common roadside weed on many islands of the Caribbean. At maturity, the warty, yellowish-orange gourd splits open revealing its striking seeds, each covered with a fleshy bright red layer called an aril. The attractive seeds are eaten and dispersed by birds. In addition to its acquired culinary value in soups and curries, the young gourds are used in folk medicine for an astonishing variety of ailments, from chronic colitis, leprosy and dysentery, to burns, gout, coughs, and severe menstrual periods. The bitter taste is caused by a group of tetracyclic triterpenes called cucurbitacins which are found in many gourd species. Although toxic in concentrated dosages, cucurbitacins may have beneficial medicinal qualities, including the treatment of tumors. They have been isolated from a number of gourd species and have been used as vermifuges, emetics, narcotics and antimalarials.
A mature bitter melon (Momordica charantia) that has split open, exposing several bright red seeds.
Oh!!! You are a wizard!!! Yes,it is....exactly!!!!. The irony of it though,I tried growing bitter gourd one time and thought was unsuccessful,seems maybe the birds gave me a hand in this!! I recall even having a discussion with HW about these gourds and their use. Generally,gourds tend to be heavy,which is why you see them lying on the ground growing...these are very very light and small so, can grow vertically with out any problem at all. Thanks so much Bixa,good work!!!
oh lord...you still haven't ID'd that!!! Jeez, ,will work on it from this end,I promise. It has so many different other plant characteristics,lantana upon first sight,know it's not...just saying what reminds me of. How big has this plant gotten Bixa,if you still have it?
I asked my friend Carol tonight on the phone to look at this. She works for the Atlanta Botanical Garden,The Smithgall Woodland Garden, as a horticulturist. She did not know what it was,however,is going to ask Mildred,the Dirctor of Horticulture to ID for us. The going dormant aspect of it, she said,will be helpful. I will follow up with her in a couple days.
I am over the moon!! Yes, yes beyond a shadow of a doubt, that is it! I can't believe I finally have a name and way to find out more.
Please convey to your sleuth(s) my undying gratitude and of course you know what this kind of thing means to me and how happy & grateful I am.
Of course I immediately looked it up -- so interesting!
One of the things I came across in looking it up I want to pass on to you (& to anyone here gardening in conditions similar to the US south). This is a lovely, beautifully illustrated blog by a gardener in coastal Virginia. Casimira, I know you, for one, will find a shared sensibility that may have you scrabbling for the plant catalogs: transitionalgardener.blogspot.com/2008_08_01_archive.html
I left it on an older page because that's where he has C. pulchella. However, clicking on the blog heading takes you to Aug. 12, 2009, apparently his last post. It's another gorgeous page of homage to the gesneriads & to other summer blooming beauties.
My friend Carol needs to take the credit for this and I will be sure and pass it on to her. We spent some time on the phone when I remembered this plant and asked her to take a look. Next thing I know she has me on websites looking at pictures so we did a back and forth and sure enough she was able to ID it. Of course,like most passionate gardeners,she summoned up the enthusiasm of the challenge,and called me back with the above information. A former NOLAian (and NYer) she and her husband relocated to Georgia after Katrina. She is one of my garden gurus and passed along some of her clients upon leaving NOLA. I miss her very much and am hoping that they return which they would like to be able to do. While over here on the Port she looked at a fair amount of our handiwork and was very impressed (I think )and I'm hoping she will consider joining us. She would be a most welcome addition I am sure. She was impressed by Spindrift's garden which is no surprise. Her gardening style is very much English Country Garden and she is very knowledgeable about the Antique Roses and many cottage garden plants. Her garden(and house... ) here in NOLA which went under during Katrina, was a marvel. Many specimens in there returned the following spring and I was the benefactor of some of them. Thanks for the link,it does indeed look very interesting and informative. Pity it's not more active.
When I clicked on this thread just now, I got happy all over again about the kind, generous, wonderful thing y'all did.
It would be so wonderful if there were another avid gardener here. You know that several of us would appreciate some more in-depth threads. Also, & this may be cold comfort to you, Casimira, but Georgia and that whole area of the US is most interesting gardening-wise because of the tumble of planting zones and micro-zones gardeners must figure out there. Her experiences with that would be of interest to our gardeners in southern France and South Africa, as well as to those in the US & other places.
Oh yeah ~~ I hope your persistence and brilliance is solving this garden mystery will prompt others to post in this thread. Surely not everyone knows every plant in his/her garden!
Note that the Mystery Plant thread has been merged into the Plant I.D. help needed! thread.
onlyMark's Identify the plant thread has also been merged into this one (Plant I.D. help needed!). Please note that his hedge was never identified. Go to Reply #12 to look and perhaps come up with an ID.