Saturday, 17 November 2012

Under Attack!

The UK is suffering a major attack of Ash Dieback at the moment. Back in the late sixties Dutch Elm Disease spread throughout our land and wiped out more than 25,000,000 trees, a major worry for us at the time. Ash Dieback is being played down for the time being, but given that the three main deciduous trees in this country are Oak, Beech and Ash, I think we need to be seriously taking this on board. Once infected, the fungus that causes the trouble, Chalara Fraxinea causes rapid leaf loss and crown die-back, resulting in the death of the tree, and as usual there is no real solution to the problem other than controlled felling, and we know how that didn't work with Dutch Elm disease!
As well as our Ash trees being under threat, our Horse Chestnut trees have suffered drastically from the disease called Bleeding Canker over the last 10 years or so. This wasn't brought to the publics attention, but I, along with fellow gardeners and tree surgeons throughout the UK have noticed virtually every tree being infected, and although some trees do recover, most die or are made so unstable that they have to be felled.
Oak trees are under serious threat from a disease called Acute Oak Decline, and again hasn't really been broadcast as news like Ash Dieback. Nonetheless, it is a serious threat to our oak forests as it causes rapid and total death of the tree, often in as little as five years.
This week we hear that now our Larch trees are being killed by Phytophthora ramorum, which let me just say is seriously bad news.
 Along with most people, I love our trees and deciduous woodlands, and living only fifteen minutes from the New Forest have spent most of my recreational time enjoying the majesty of it's trees and the peace and often solitude that these places offer. If we don't do something NOW, then I fear that within fifty years there won't be much left. This country is supposed to have a plant passport scheme, but I can only say that this is laughable and totally ineffective, as it still clearly allows the import of....wait for it.......around ten million Ash trees that may have carried the disease! I myself once imported some conifers from the middle east, all with plant passports to ensure their quality and health, only to find their branches alive with locusts! Albeit they were a little sluggish due to coming from such a hot climate to the great UK winter, but even so a potentially serious threat to our environment.
The dutch famously over hybridise their bedding plants, and although some wondrous colours have been achieved, the plants are made weaker and weaker, and are grown in such vast numbers that no real check on diseases can be carried out. In fact, given that most plants are exported as plugs and show no signs of disease at this point, maybe (and it's just my opinion) they choose not to treat them for economic reasons.
Until we started to purchase imported Dutch plants we had no signs of Pansy Leaf Spot, Impatiens Downy Mildew or Vine Weevil Larvae to name just a few.
We only import plants for economic reasons, chiefly because they cost less, but they cost less for a reason. and you only have to eat a Tesco tomato to understand why. To me the answer for the UK is simple, and can even come with two choices. The first is to ban the import of ANY plant material to the UK from anywhere else, and start growing our own (and again I say IMPORTING ASH TREES???). The second is to ensure that EVERY plant that comes into the UK has an effective plant passport that requires the plant or plant material to be totally disease free, and that the plant must be mature enough to detect these diseases. If contravened, then the grower is shut down and those involved never allowed to trade with the UK again. Personally I think that given human nature, the first is the only option. As for the dutch growers, well.......
The powers that be here in the UK also appear to be transfixed with the notion that genetic modification is the only way to go in terms of feeding an ever growing population. I don't want to rain on their parade, but sadly the only true solution to this problem is a global war. Genetic modification will bring greater and greater problems into an already fragile food chain, and once introduced will be irreversible. I will leave you with what for me sums up the whole GM problem. Click on 'Blue Rose' for the article.
Have A Nice Day!


  1. This is awfully depressing and has concerned me for many years.
    It is hopeless relying on government....they see no personal profit in the environment.

    If you are betting a used Canon lens then make sure that canon are still servicing it. Many of the older ones can't be repaired.
    Another source of S/H are HARRISONS.
    Ask for Simon...I use them as a first source supplier.

  2. Oh Gary, this is terrible news. What is going on with the government/natural resources over there? With all the rain you recv'd over summer, I wonder if it had anything to do with the increase of disease and infection. I remember the Larch tree. Working with plants, I understand where you are coming from....Texas had a large Oak tree crisis going on....and then a drought two summers ago killed many of their trees. Badgers, trees, sparrows, anyone out there trying to protect the future of your country? When people don't invest because it's not money wise "smart", we all have to step back and look at everything long term. I like your reasoning on imports. Feel the same.

  3. Hi Gary, very powerful post you've written! Crazy world we live in, right? But people are waking up, asking questions, protesting... The internet can make awareness spread like wildfire, so the hope is that the next generation take up the fight; they are a passionate, educated, caring group of kids! I'm not a fan of GMOs either :( Nice to meet you and I look forward to following your posts.

  4. Seems that the magnitude of the environmental changes are becoming huge worldwide!! My belief is that things will get much, MUCH worse. .Personally, I can't WAIT to see what the gardens are going to be like in heaven!! And how glorious it will be to enjoy the beauty of them, without the work, worry, and labor involved to make them beautiful!! Have a blessed week Gary!!

  5. Hi Adrian,
    Government appear to say some of the right things, but nothing ever materialises, in fact about pretty much everything. Thanks for the camera advice, and the email.

  6. Hi Chris,
    People seem very unaware or complacement about the very real threat to our trees and bees here in the UK. Unfortunately if things continue, then we will simply die!

  7. Hi Rosemary,
    Nice to see you here. I do so hope that you are right about our youngest generation, but my experience is that some are indeed fired up about such issues, whilst most are too self indulgent to care. The internet can be a very useful tool in this world indeed.

  8. Hi Melanie,
    I agree with you that things will get much, much worse, and unfortunately will be the demise of mankind. It can only be a matter of time until we have tipped the scales, and there is more development that plantlife. Heaven is going to be amazing, breathtaking and unbelievable, but I hope and expect that a little gardening may be possible.

  9. I could hardly believe it when I first heard that we were importing ash trees from Denmark. I have spent years pulling up ash seedlings that have proliferated all about my gardens.
    Sadly I know all too well about the horse chestnut canker as we have a massive tree just outside the garden gate that is gradually losing the battle. I had not heard about the larch, one of my favourite trees. What a tragedy it all is.

  10. Hi Rosemary,
    Sorry to hear that your horse chestnut is also on it's way out. As someone who talks all the time with plant suppliers, it never ceases to amaze me that we import so many plants that could be grown here, and exported to help our own economy. If the main nursery that I use hasn't a plant that I need, then they only source from others who grow in this country....much safer disease wise.

  11. Hi, Gary. Great post! Love the pics too. I've nominated you for a Beautiful Blogger award and linked to your blog on my latest post. Enjoy!

  12. Hi Kimberley,
    Thank you for such kind words, and for the Beautiful Blogger kind!
    As usual, I enjoy reading your posts, and looking jealously at the wonderful things you grow in your garden all year through. have a lovely week.

  13. I feel as if the whole world is under attack from well... Itself... If we ourselves cannot aid this current problem in nature within the next two decades, I fear for us as a whole.

    -Samudaworth Tree Service

  14. Hi Samuda Tree Services,
    I couldn't agree more. As a species, we take far too much for granted.