Like detective work, diagnosing a plant problem is both an art and a science, combining knowledge of a great many fields with the respect for and enjoyment of solving a good mystery. The bad news is that no one will ever master diagnostics; the good news is that no one will ever master diagnostics. So everyone should enter the arena, from beginning gardeners to master gardeners. The more you do it, the better you’ll get.
As baseball legend Yogi Berra might say, “the beginning is a very good place to start.” The beginning of the diagnostic process is recognizing that there’s a problem. The next steps involve asking yourself a series of questions and researching the answers. Diagnostics does not involve following a surefire set of rules; rather, it is a process that will lead you to the best educated guess. This guess is an important one, however— for, as with medicine, treatment without diagnosis is malpractice. For our purposes, I will be asking seven key diagnostic questions to solve “The Mystery of the Ailing Viburnum.”