For every person that hates Japanese knotweed, there’s another that is ambivalent. For every person that understands the need to manage and control Himalayan balsam, there’s another two that argue for its protection. For every person that likes Ragwort flowers, there’s somebody with horses that feels the plant should be eradicated.

You get the picture. It’s not black and white in the world of invasive species management. There are many shades of grey in this industry.

One is often given the choice of killing one species to let another survive. But …which one should you be saving? For me …it’s pretty clear – if you have a native plant usurped by an alien invader – then the invader should go. It gets a little sketchy when you look into the definition of ‘native’ and what represents ‘alien’.

Take the sycamore for example. Is it a native or is it an alien? Many people would argue the tree is an alien introduced from Europe by the Romans and NOT a native species. If, however, one was to remove ALL of the sycamore trees in the UK …. there would be some huge areas where there were no trees at all. Also, many would argue that the sycamore has been here so long that it should be considered a native. Also, let’s be honest, the sycamore can be a lovely tree…in the right place.

People argue that Himalayan balsam is loved by bees. I’ve often had very environmentally aware people take the stance with me about retention of Balsam as food for production of honey. They think they’re being very ‘socially aware’ about the threat to our native bee population and think that the eradication of HB should be stopped as vigorously as those chaining themselves to native oak trees in development areas do. However, whilst ‘yes’ bees do love the nectar from HB – they love it so much – they forget to pollinate our native plants. The bees are so drunk on Balsam nectar that they can hardly stagger back to the hive – let alone stop to do a bit of pollination of native flora. So, whilst the balsam thrives – our native plants decline.

Of late we have been getting more and more enquiries for removal of ‘invasive’ plants that until recently were the staple species used by Landscape Architects on inner city planting projects. So, we’re in a world where plants that were bought and planted on purpose within the last twenty years, are now considered so damaging, that they must be removed and eradicated at significant cost.

Unfortunately, there is actually nothing new in this scenario. We’ve been doing this for hundreds of years. We travel, we see plants that we like …so we bring them back to the UK and we plant them. They grow, they thrive, they escape from the confines of our gardens and they spread down our rivers and highways …and they outgrow all of our native plants.

What I’d like to do however is ‘plant’ (yes – pun intended) a thought in your head that maybe, just maybe…we should stop doing this.

Maybe we should be pro-active enough to think ‘whoah – hang on – if I plant this alien species in my garden – it might just cause problems for future generations…’

Any ‘alien’ species brought to the UK will have no natural enemies. Native plants are kept in check by insects and diseases that predate on them. If you introduce a new species that has no enemies, it will always out compete with our native plants.

Without our native plants, we have no bio-diversity.

Without bio-diversity, we lose genetic diversity which has an impact on human health and the future survival of man on earth.

More than 99.9% of all species that have ever lived on earth, suggested to be over five billion species, are estimated to be extinct. Currently, it is suggested that we have over 10 million species on Earth, of which 1.2 million have been documented.

Maybe we should try and do our bit and make sure we don’t lose any more of our native plants.

Maybe we should just have a clear list of alien problem plants …and eradicate them ….

Oh hang on – we’ve got that already – that would be the 1981 Schedule 9 Wildlife and Countryside Act….????



Mike C

Control January 20, 2021

Have you ever fallen out with your bank? This happened to me about 30 years ago when I’d applied for an overdraft and been turned down. I told the bank (this was my mistake) that I was closing the account and opening one with another provider. I told them this before I’d actually done it.

They cancelled everything. I mean everything electric, water, gas, credit cards, bank cards…. the lot. My wife had two young babies and was out shopping …the first we knew of the problems was that she couldn’t pay for her supermarket trolley of nappies and baby food.

It got sorted. It was a real pain. It made me realise the power the banks have over our everyday lives.

Now fast forward to 2021 and in the midst of all the panic about COVID there’s a little thing going on called ‘getting rid of cash’. The arguments unfold about cash carrying disease etc. etc. but what’s actually happening is we’re putting all our eggs in the ‘one’ basket of Barclaycard, MasterCard and the banks. They can cut you off at the flick of a switch.

We’re all being pushed into electric cars. Now you’re not telling me that if when we’re in those cars ….and they want to stop us going anywhere …they will just be able to pull the plug on all the street chargers and we’re fucked. We’re going nowhere.

Maybe the next ‘lock down’ won’t be – ‘please stay at home’ – it will be simply a case of pulling the plug on our transport and stopping us dead in our tracks.

We’re all 100% reliant on the internet and the ‘cloud’. Now again…. forgive me if I’m wrong here but if the government want to control us…all they have to do is switch that off – or even threaten to = total control of the population.

Vaccines. Now I’m not against vaccinations…but …let’s just say you have to have a booster every twelve months…. you ain’t getting this unless you’re 100% towing the party line, paying your taxes and saying the right things.

Imagine a world where we are absolutely in the hands of others.

Imagine if that’s Boris.

Just saying.


Mike C

What …is important…? January 13, 2021

At times in your life, you must have asked yourself…if..I only had 24 hours to live …what would I do?

Now when I was about 13 …the answer would have been … ‘I would run into the girls changing rooms during PE and see Trudy Swan naked…’

Having grown through that phase and realised that Trudy and I were never meant to be together – and having gone through a variety of Trudy substitutes….I have matured to a stage where I have realised that naked women are a fleeting concern of the pubescent male…and that there is more to life than boobies.

So the answer to the question when I was a little older ….would have been … ‘I would walk into the Porsche showroom and demand a test drive in a 911…then drive off never to return’.

Other options would be –

Holiday in the Maldives (slightly flawed in that it takes more than 24 hours to get there)

Maybe a blowout meal in an expensive restaurant- then do a runner

Maybe order a take away and watch all my favourite movies back to back…?

However, the fun has been rather taken out of this silly question in that maybe, just maybe … we really all do just have 24 hours to live…?

The reality of COVID and the confusion of what we can and cannot do has left us with some serious decisions to make.

Should I see my mum?

Should I see my kids?

Should I see my brother?

Should I see my larger family?

Should I have a party?

Is work actually ….that….important ?

Should we all just be having some ‘me time’ or a ‘duvet day’ and just stay in watching Netflix?

I guess it the usual conundrum – we don’t actually know that life as we know it …is…actually… going… to …. end….

….so, we carry on paying the mortgage, having zoom meetings and pretending that everything will return to normal once we’ve all had the vaccine.

Maybe though, this is just the Governments way of ensuring that we don’t all run in to see Trudy Swan…

Maybe they’re all going out with a bang whilst we’re all staying in behaving ourselves …? Boris could have fathered five more kids whilst we’ve all been paying our taxes like good little worker bees.

Just saying.


Mike C

This …will be the year that. January 6, 2021

Well, I guess this will be the year that I try and change the way that things get done around here.

I have a bit of a list going on:

1.Let’s try and stop second guessing people.

This happens when we’re pricing projects and we’re trying to win the work. Quite often we get to a price that’s just over a ‘threshold’ – let’s say it’s priced up and it’s £10,480.00 …and we think that £10K is a ‘threshold’ ….so we go in at £9999.00 keeping it just below the £10K.

Is this really an issue? Or…as I suspect …have we just given away £500 quid?

Note to self – how about when we price a project, that is the price. We’ve taken years formulating our pricing process…so why just throw it in the bin at the last minute?

2.Clients either want to work with us or they don’t. Why argue?

Let’s be honest, if somebody is asking for ten different prices off ten different contractors – they do not ‘want’ to work with you. They want the cheapest price and they’re going to be a pain in the arse when it comes to payment time.

Just say no.

3.If a police officer says you’ve been driving too fast – just say… ‘Yes officer, I’m sorry…’ – do not lead with, ‘Have you nothing better to do …’, this will not help.

4.Cash flow. You know that the money that you are chasing won’t come in…and the money that you aren’t expecting will come in early. Why not reflect this on the cashflow and make it a complete work of fiction.

5.With the wife – just say – ‘Yes dear’.

6.With the lockdown policy – don’t try and be clever – just stay in bed.

7.With my 93-year-old mum, just agree that she’s 93, therefore is allowed to say what she wants, do what she wants, eat what she wants ….and have you running around sorting all this for her. It’s not worth arguing. She will win.

8.To be continued ….


Mike C