Grown in Wales

Grown in WalesGrown in WalesGrown in Wales

26

November

Ash

Charles Warner

Every two weeks I get an email from a nursery in Costa Rica. They sell unrooted cutting material. They visited my nursery once. That's right a nursery in Costa Rica sent their nursery manager and two smart young women from their Spanish operation to my nursery in West Wales. I protested when they called. I explained to them that the region in which I live is not well known for it's horticulture. There probably wouldn't be many opportunities for them to sell their cuttings. I explained that I propagated my own plants from my own stock and that was one of the values of my enterprise. They came anyway. They were charming. I bet that they produce some fabulous cutting material over there in Costa Rica. I can't help but wish them well.

I guess that it's not well known that plant material is traded all over the world in this way. A grower told me recently that it's as easy for him to send his plants to Eastern Europe as it is to send them to the East of England. British horticulture has seen a decline in it's skills base just like so many industries. Why would you train a propagator and use space for stock plants when you can buy excellent cuttings from half way around the world?

But here is a thought.............

We have a lot of Ash trees in the UK. We have been importing stock from all over. It might be very hard to know exactly where the stock originated. A forestry guy from Lancashire told me that they used to buy their tree seedlings from a place that they could see from their house. Then came competition from larger UK nurseries and then those nurseries turned into giant packing sheds and just bought the seedlings in and sold them on. Like so many others he has been planting Ash seedlings in schemes in the last few years without any idea of where those seedlings were grown. Of course, we now have Ash dieback which is caused by a fungus called Chalara Fraxinea. I'm no expert on this but here is a link to some more imformation  http://www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara. It's a shame. I'm hoping that it won't turn out as badly as we are being told but we are reminded that there was once a time when the UK had lovely stately Elm trees (we had one in the playing field near to where I grew up ). In horticulture we are probably more aware of this problem than non horticulturalists . perhaps to the man in the street it means very little.

This should be a wake up call. I have been growing Sempervivums on my nursery for twenty years now. They are uncommonly well behaved. As long as you protect the roots from vine weevil and don't allow them to get too wet they don't really have any problems. I sold some plugs just recently to a nursery in Suffolk. The owner sent an email and asked me what I did to control mealy bug because he often gets infestations on both the roots and the arial parts of the plant.  I asked if he was certain that it was mealy bug. He said he was. I have never seen such a thing. The only mealy bugs I have ever seen on hardy plants was on Phormium that had been imported from Italy. They are sods to deal with because they have protective wax and they creep right down into crevices. I'm not sure that we have any good insecticides for them now. Sempervivum should not get mealy bug. I'm pretty sure of that. Something is wrong if Sempervivum plants are harbouring mealy bugs . It's not a problem on the scale of Ash dieback but it's just another little thing that we should consider when we purchase a plant from the garden centre. My advice would be that if you are buying a plant. First check that it's the kind of quality that you want. Don't compromise on that. But then ask the centre. Where was this plant grown. If they don't know or it was outside of the UK then factor that in to your purchase. Maybe buy it anyway but at the till ask to speak to the manager and ask him if there is not a supplier in the UK he could have used. We really do need to think about such things.

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