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I had my twisted hazel for 9 years in a pot and it was fine, never had a problem. I planted it in my garden three years ago and it has more than trippled in size, become very bushy. I admit I did not realise I should be pruning the bush in the spring, so it is quite dense. It has been fine until this autumn, the leaves along the ground level are all turning Black!
What do I do?
I've never pruned twisted hazel, it's usually slow growing and I think that pruning it can destroy the beauty of its form. All I've ever needed to do is cut out any straight stems coming from below the graft.
Yours is obviously very happy now it's got it's feet in the soil. A nice bushy Corylus contorta will look fabulous in the winter. They can look a little congested in the summer, but we don't grow them for their foliage do we?
I don't think I'd worry about leaves turning black at this time of year - they'll be falling off any tme now.
I agree with Dove. The black leaves may just have been coated with honeydew from aphids. This thin layer of sugars excreted by the aphids usually does turn black at this time of the year when a kind of black mould grows on it. If it's that it won't harm your tree and the leaves will fall off very soon anyway as hazels of all kinds are losing their leaves right now.