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The Fera Garden: Stop the Spread

Plant pests and diseases and invasive non-native species have the potential to change how our landscape looks and impact our biodiversity and wildlife.  This was highlighted in 2012 by two serious plant pest and disease outbreaks.

The Fera Garden: Stop the Spread

In March, an outbreak of an exotic beetle pest of trees, the Asian longhorn beetle, resulted in the felling of over 2000 trees. Towards the end of 2012 ash trees hit the headlines with the discovery of Chalara fraxinea (Ash dieback) in Britain for the first time.

The Fera Garden: Stop the Spread

In response to the ash dieback outbreak the Chalara Management Plan was published which emphasised the importance of communicating to the public and professionals about how they can help protect our environment from the threat of tree and plant pests and diseases.

The Fera Garden: Stop the Spread

About the Garden

The “Stop the Spread” show garden highlights how we can all work together to help prevent the introduction and spread of damaging plant pests, diseases and invasive non-native species. The garden will feature two distinct characters, contrasting beauty with the potential effects plant pests and diseases could have on our gardens and natural environment.

The Fera Garden: Stop the Spread

Created by award winning garden and landscape designer Jo Thompson, “Stop the Spread” includes a beautiful sunken garden featuring herbaceous planting and a sculpture by Tom Stogdon bordered by quintessential woodland trees and lush shade-loving planting.

The Fera Garden: Stop the Spread

This is contrasted with a symbolic avenue of bare and lifeless trees, an island holding a single seedling in a black pool and garden walls covered with an intricate pattern that contains a hidden message.

The Fera Garden: Stop the Spread

Key Features of the “Stop the Spread” Garden

·         Woodland Trees Under Threat

The garden is bordered by quintessential woodland trees, chosen as examples of species under threat from pests and diseases:

o   Horse Chestnut – affected by Horse Chestnut Leaf Miner. First found in London in 2002, and now widespread in England and Wales, this pest causes severe damage to the foliage of horse chestnut trees. Horse chestnut is also among a number of species susceptible to the disease Phytophthora ramorum.

o   English Oak – affected by Oak Processionary Moth. Since 2006 there have been outbreaks of Oak Processionary Moth in London and Berkshire. The caterpillars can strip whole oak trees bare of leaves, leaving them vulnerable to attack by other pests and diseases. The hairs from the caterpillars are also harmful to humans and animals.

o   Silver Birch and Field Maple – two of a number of tree species susceptible to Asian Longhorn Beetle.  This invasive non-native pest comes from South East Asia. The first UK outbreak was confirmed in Kent in 2012. This wood-boring insect poses a serious threat to a wide range of broadleaved trees including maples, elm, willow, horse chestnut, birch and poplar.

o   Elm New Horizon – the “New Horizon” cultivar was the first variety to be specifically bred for resistance to Dutch Elm Disease.

o   Scots Pine – affected by Dothistroma needle blight (also known as Red Band Needle Blight), which causes defoliation and weakens the tree, significantly reducing timber yields.

o   London Plane – a potential future threat is Plane Wilt. It’s not yet in the UK but could be very damaging if it entered the country. The disease has already had a major impact in France, Italy and Switzerland. New import controls introduced in January 2013 should help guard against it entering the UK.

·         Trees with Histories

Some of the specimen trees have fascinating histories. The horse chestnut was grown from a conker collected in the grounds of Buckingham Palace, and the London plane was propagated from a tree felled when Hungerford Bridge was built.

·         Sunken Garden

This tranquil space features beautiful herbaceous planting in a palette of blue, white and yellow. Plants featured include Ligusticum lucidum (Lovage), Filipendula vulgaris (Dropwort) and Mathiasella bupleuroides.

·         Sculpture

The sculpture by Tom Stogdon forms a focal point in the sunken garden. The opening in the sculpture frames a lifeless tree from one direction and a living tree from the other, emphasising the dual character of the garden.

·         Ash Benches – but no ash trees

The garden features two ash benches. In 2012 ash trees hit the headlines with the discovery of Chalara fraxinea (Ash dieback) in Britain for the first time. A ban on the import and movement ash trees means the species does not feature in the garden.

·         Patterned Concrete Walls

The garden walls are decorated with an intricate pattern that has a hidden message. In fact it’s made up of the outlines of Phytophthora ramorum and Chalara fraxinea spores and leaves of the highly invasive non-native aquatic plant Floating Pennywort.
·         Avenue of Bare and Lifeless Trees

In contrast to the healthy living trees, this symbolic avenue of bare and lifeless trees highlights the potential impact of plant pests and diseases.

 ·         The Black Pool

Water is a feature of many gardens, but some common aquatic plants are invasive non-native species which can smother garden ponds and can cause significant damage to canals, rivers and lakes if they escape. They are such a serious problem that in January 2013 five species - water fern, parrot’s feather, floating pennywort, New Zealand pygmyweed and water primrose – were banned from sale.

·         A Single Seedling

On the island in the middle of the pool a single seeding grows. While at first it may seem vulnerable, it promises new shoots of hope that by working together we can stop the spread!

How to Stop the Spread?

Here are some simple steps you can take in your own garden

Sourcing plants:

·         Check new plants are healthy and are not contaminated by fragments of invasive non-native species
·         Buy UK-grown plants where possible
·         Avoid bringing plants or cuttings home from holidays abroad
·         Preferably plant small and enjoy watching your garden grow
·         Pick the right plant for the right place, avoiding plants that might become invasive

Good gardening:

·         Prevent your plants escaping from your garden
·         Keep your gardening equipment and outdoor footwear clean
·         Dispose of garden and pond waste responsibly – never dump it in the countryside

You can help too when you’re out and about

·         Look out for any site notices - they might request you keep to the path and out of diseased areas
·         Regularly clean footwear and wash down the tyres of bikes and vehicles after off-roading
·         Recreational water users, remember to Check-Clean-Dry (https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/nonnativespecies/checkcleandry/index.cfm)

Want to do more?

·         Learn more about pests, diseases and invasive non-native species
·         Take part in the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) tree health survey www.opalexplorenature.org
·         Find what is going on in your local area (e.g. action groups, conservation projects) and get involved!