The Property Care Association is offering an open invitation to visitors to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show to visit its ‘Weed Clinic’ and find out more about the impact of invasive, non-native plants on the UK landscape.
Part of the national trade body’s ‘The Enemy Within Garden,’ which features examples of 14 invasive non-native plants, the clinic will be hosted by experts from the trade body’s Invasive Weed Control Group.
They have created a garden with plants including buddleia, bamboo and montbretia that have become a common sight in UK gardens – with the potential to become a next generation foe that dominates over the natural order of the nation’s flora and fauna.
Professor Wade, chair of the PCA’s Invasive Weed Control Group, said: “The Enemy Within has been created to enable visitors to see examples of various invasive, non-native plants in a garden setting.
“Many such plants threaten our ecosystems, from rivers to railways, and give cause for concern, but the garden will enable us to demonstrate how easy it is for these species to grow unknowingly in our gardens.
“The plants are a common sight and are among a number of non-native species, including Japanese knotweed, brought to Europe by horticulturists for gardens and ornamental ponds, which have since escaped over the garden wall and become part of our flora.
“A part of the challenge posed by invasive plants is to spot and prevent the next Japanese knotweed taking hold, with all the associated environmental and economic costs, as well as legal implications.
“Our Weed Clinic will give people access to advice to aid identification, and to understand how to manage invasive non-native plants – desired and undesired – in their gardens, and that is an important step.”
The PCA’s Invasive Weed Control Group (IWCG) is the front line in combating invasive weeds in the UK and Ireland and recognises that prevention is a whole lot better than the large-scale effort needed to keep non-native plants under control.
Professor Wade added: “We know from studies of today’s invasive weeds that it can take decades for a plant to become a national problem after escaping from gardens and experience shows that early intervention is best practice in the control of invasive plants such as giant hogweed, giant rhubarb, Himalayan balsam and Japanese knotweed.
“Giant rhubarb was first seen outside of gardens in 1908 but it wasn’t until about the turn of the century that it became invasive, while Japanese knotweed took from 1886 to around 1940 to really take off.
“So, gardeners and other horticulturists can make a valuable contribution by keeping plants like the ones in our display and which grow in their gardens firmly under control and to help identify and take action to deal with tomorrow’s Japanese knotweeds and ultimately reduce their impact for future generations.”
Ten Facts About The Enemy Within Garden
1. The stand features plant species that people are usually trying to destroy rather than nurture!
2. This is the first time that a garden dedicated to invasive non-native plants has ever been included at RHS Chelsea
3. Pulling together the plants for the stand was a national effort involving PCA members, a nursery and two universities (Swansea and Lancaster) and ten members of the trade association
4. There is an interactive information hub on the stand providing accessible information about invasive plants: recognition, life cycles, decision making for best control and revegetation post control
5. Gardeners and horticulturists can make a valuable contribution to keeping invasive plants under control and preventing their spread through understanding more about them and how to identify them
6. Gardeners are invited to bring photos on their mobile phones to the invasive weed clinic on the PCA’s stand – experts on hand to assist with identification and advice
7. Visitors to our stand are invited to try our invasive weed spotter quiz to check their recognition skills and provide data for the PCA to explore what level of ID support gardeners need to improve their skills
8. Just how fast do Giant Hogweed and Japanese Knotweed grow? We’ll be measuring the growth of our plants each of Chelsea. Will our plants break the record of 60cm a week or 8cm a day for Japanese Knotweed?
9. There are at least 10 different ways an invasive non-native plant can escape from your garden. See how many you can spot in our prevent spread challenge on the Information Hub
10. The team of invasive non-native weed specialists will be able to explain how gardeners are planting tomorrow’s Japanese Knotweed today and how we need to be looking for clues of which plants might make a break for the wild with all the associate headaches and costs to the environment and economy.
On the stand
Members of the press are very welcome to visit the stand and ask about the issue of non-native invasive weeds in the UK. Members of the PCA’s Invasive Weed Control Group are available throughout press day to answer any queries.
There will also be a number of ‘guests’ on the stand from organisations with an interest in and knowledge of the impacts and challenges of invasive plants.
Tuesday 22nd May – Jon Best, London Boroughs Biodiversity Forum
Wednesday 23rd May – Sarah Webster, Head of Protected and Invasive Non-native Species, Defra
Thursday 24th May – John Moverley, Independent Chairman, Amenity Forum
Thursday 24th May – John Parker, Chair, London Tree Officers Asociation
Friday 25th May – Joanna Heisse, Biodiversity Technical Specialist and Deputy Co-lead for the Environment Agency Women’s Network
Stand number – Discovery Zone GPA/102
Members of the press are welcome at the stand, to make an appointment please contact;
Jane Shepherd – firstname.lastname@example.org
Telpehone 07985 129315 – alternative number 01538 308685