I’ve read a few articles over the last few weeks highlighting interesting gardens around the United Kingdom. I’ve seen, herbaceous borders, gardens by Chelsea Garden show winners all with weird and wonderful plants…and every time I’ve thought hmmm I wonder whether this could be the next ‘invasive non-native species’…?
I’m sure I’m probably the only person that does this – whilst others simply go on line and buy whatever the magazines or TV shows advertise.
If someone said Thunbergia alata (or even… Black Eyed Susan) would you immediately think ‘..NO…BAD…INVASIVE …’…..or would you think ‘hmmm nice herbaceous vine might be nice on my shed?’
Indigo hirsute, Urochloa mutica, Allamanda cathartica, Emilia fosbergii …not really names that would send up warning signals yet these have all been introduced either as fodder plants, crops or ornamentals…and now pose a huge problem in the areas that they have been introduced.
They are capable of smothering native vegetation, killing host trees, out competing with understory plants and negatively affecting the germination of native plants.
These plants also have amazing abilities to spread and reproduce as well as having allelopathic* tendencies – (*they produce chemicals within the soil which precludes the growth of other species). These plants will grow in a wide variety of soil conditions and in most cases will reproduce and grow far quicker than native species.
So when I see a feature in the Sunday Times about a gardener who loves ‘tropical plants’ and has covered his back garden with a variety of unusual trees and shrubs which he has imported from God knows where….I always end up wondering?
Have these plants been vetted for disease?
Where exactly have they come from?
Has someone given a license for their import?
Have they been smuggled in from holiday – wrapped up in a suitcase?
How does the ‘gardener’ prevent seed from leaving his garden?
What happens if he moves?
What about root spread?
Is anybody checking on what this gardener is doing?
Now don’t get me wrong – an Englishmans home/garden is his castle…and I for one would not take kindly to some council ‘busybody’ telling what I can or cannot plant in my piece of land…
…yet… a part of me thinks that just maybe somebody ….should be able to do something…?
Before anybody shouts about current legislation and new laws that are coming in to manage and control Invasive Non-Native Species ….yes …I am aware….BUT …..will anybody actually DO ANYTHING?
I think it’s down to each of us to have a careful think about what we plant in our gardens.
Personally I won’t plant anything that hasn’t been grown in my local nursery, I use native plants and also try and match the age and history of the property – very much a cottage/kitchen garden. This rules out any weird and wonderful modern flowering shrubs and keeps a very herbaceous seasonal colour pattern within the borders.
All I’m asking really is for people to have a think before doing weird and exotic planting scheme’s – think about the future, think about how these plants could impact on our British Countryside….and then maybe we won’t get any unexpected invasions….