British plant nurseries are under threat from mass produced plant growers from abroad.
Imported plants are controlled: all growers supplying to EEC countries must have a Plant Passport, which allows the authorities to monitor and trace any problems with plant health. Standards of inspection are very stringent in the UK, says Guy Barter of the RHS, but in other countries the checking may be more relaxed. Also, it is not possible to check every single plant, so pests and diseases can be inadvertently imported. Diseases such as Dutch Elm have already done nationwide damage; others such as Sudden Oak Death are gradually spreading. Imported plants, such as Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam, can also become invasive, eventually pushing out native species and altering habitats. Some imported plants, such as tree ferns, cyclamens and orchids, may also have been dug up from the wild.
Many of the plants we buy have been raised in European countries such as Holland, France, Italy, Belgium and Germany, but an increasing number are being grown further a field in countries such as Roses from Africa and China where as in the case of Japanese Acers which are propagated in China, flown to Holland to be grown on and transported to Italy to mature, being moved between several countries and across continents before they reach the UK. The carbon footprint of these plants has not yet been calculated but is certainly considerable and could be avoided by sourcing British or locally grown plants.
Research by the South East England Development Agency shows that people who buy plants in garden centres show little interest in a plants country of origin. Many people will assume that the plants are grown here in the UK and will be shocked to learn that many are brought in from abroad. I think the labelling should include the plants country of origin. More people would buy British grown plants if they realised the key advantages of buying home-grown plants: plants that will grow better, fewer plant miles and lower carbon footprint from the grower to your garden, and support for jobs in the UK horticulture industry.
Look on the internet to find local plant nurseries or ones that offer mail order. Their website will often contain useful and practical plant care advice so you’ll know how to look after your plants once you’ve bought them.
You’ll find you’ll get a refreshingly diverse choice of garden plants and excellent value for money. Each nursery is run by enthusiasts who will give you a warm welcome and be keen to give you a genuinely professional level of advice.
The Complete Gardens plant advice and pruning guide CD-ROM is not stocked by some large garden centre chains like Wyvale because we link from plants on our CD-ROM to some quality UK plant specialist nurseries.
Although not being stocked will probably mean we’re loosing sales to the cheaper imported garden software they sell, we’re not going to support a monopoly which some large garden Centre chains demand and fully support our British plant nurseries.
Here are a few specialist nurseries not linked from plants on the CD-ROM to nurseries but we hope they will be added soon.
http://www.blofieldnurseries.co.uk/camellia.htm camellia and azalea specialist
http://www.littleshopofhorrors.co.uk/home.php Carnivorous plants. Chelsea Flower Show Gold winner
http://www.wildflowers.co.uk British wild flowers
http://www.hardybamboo.com Bamboo and grass specialist
http://www.thorncroft.co.uk Clematis specialist. Chelsea Flower Show Gold winner