Archive for the ‘ Current news issues ’ Category

Bees in the Garden

Posted Thursday, 12 March, 2015 at 3:42 pm

several years ago a friend announced she has taken up bee keeping as a hobby.  This was apparently something she had always been keen upon and at the time she received an opportunity to purchase a bee hive.  After attending some courses she approached the National Trust and has positioned her hive at Baddesley Clinton, Warwickshire.  He her bees pollinate the flowers and surrounding crops but also generate a supply of honey for her too.

Honey bee feeding upon Aster

With Spring upon us and the warm weather stirring the new arrival  of insect life I considered it would be a useful reminder to express the connection between our food and bees.  By bees I refer to honey-bees, bumble bees, solitary bees and other bees. By a simple process of pollinating plants, bees are responsible for one third of our basic food staples.  Ever since there have been flowers bees have been present pollinating the plants providing fruit and vegetable harvests as well as honey.  However honey bee and bumble bee colonies have been on the decline with population levels falling as a result of mite, reduced habitats and other external influences.  As gardeners we can not necessary stop the decline globally but we can help by designing and implementing gardens that offer favourable habitats for the bees.  An easy first step to this implementation would be to plant our gardens with flowers that have simple uncomplicated flowers.  These flowers provide easy access to the nectar that the bees are seeking compared to the more sophisticated hybridised blooms.

Some  of the most useful plants in the garden for attracting bees are herbs.  These can be introduced amongst other garden species or in a designated area. As a designer of gardens I will often introduce low growing herbs such as thyme and marjoram to my schemes.  A particular favourite of mine is Thymus ‘Silver Posie’ which has a white variation to the leaf and small pink flowers.  The use of herbs next to a path provide opportunities for the plant to be crushed releasing scent to the air and making the visit into the garden far more than a visual experience.

Purple fennel with its soft fronds adds height to a border with umbreferal yellow green flowers that attract a great deal of interest.  I will often use this plant next to Russian sage (Pervoskia Blue Spire’). In August this plant is quite literally a buzz with honey bees seeking nectar from its pale blue flowers.

To maximise the benefits to bees plant in bolder groups, not only will this improve the ability of the bees to both find and thus conserve their energy the plants in a bolder group will make for a visually more impressive garden.

Plan to provide plants that flower through the season.  doronicums are some of the earliest plants to flower and will provide a source or energy to emerging bees.

Creating habitats for bees could ing include making a bee hotel.  These are formed from hollow sticks or canes that can be hung in a sunny dry location from a tree.  These form a perfect location for the solitary bee.  Other options are to create a space in the garden with twigs and broken terracotta shards.  These provide cover for bees and will often attract bumble bees who often live in burrows.

Some useful plants to use for attracting bees into the garden are available from the Royal Horticultural Society.  This provides a useful guide indicating when the plants flower and will provide the food source for the bees.

 

https://www.rhs.org.uk/science/pdf/conservation-and-biodiversity/wildlife/rhs_perfectforpollinators_plantlist-jan15

 

Other plants such as the following herbs will be of great value to the bees visiting the garden.

 

anise hyssop (Agastanche foeniculum)

bergamot or bee balm (Monarda fistulosa)

Borage (Borago officinalis)

Chicory (Choricum intybus)

Chives (Allium schoenoprasusum)

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgaris)

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)

Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)

Lavender  varieties (Lavandula)

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Sweet marjoram (Origanum Majorana)

Mint (Mentha)

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)

Thyme (Thymus)

 

Further reading available from:

The British Beekeepers Association

Babka.org.uk

bumblebee Conservation Trust

Bumblebee conservation.org

friends of the earth Bee Cause campaign

Foe.co.uk

Often overlooked but of great importance to bees, provide shallow dishes with stones placed in the bowls to form watering holes for the bees.  The bowls only need to be shallow but if topped up regularly you will provide a useful point where the bees can hydrate themselves during the summer months.

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A February update

Posted Tuesday, 10 February, 2015 at 12:56 pm

It has been a while since I posted anything on the blog page.  Time it seems waits for no man and trying to fit in commitments to clients, family and scouts all seem to conspire against me.  With February being slightly quieter in the design calendar I thought I would put together how I see the landscape industry changing in the West Midlands.

Recently it has been announced that Wyevale are closing their ‘Cash and Carry’ plant centre called Greenlne based at Earlwood Garden Centre.  This is a great loss as I have found the staff helpful and keen to provide a great service when I have required plants.  Hopefully someone will realise there is a need for a wholesale nursery in the South Birmingham area and takes the business on.

Plant sourcing from good nurseries can and will always be problematic with plant supply not always matching the time scale of a project and requiring a substitution where that is applicable.  Having a nursery man/woman who is equally as passionate about plants helps and enable options to be discussed.  I am amazed at the number of landscapers who have little plant knowledge and focus mainly on the hard landscaping element.

As I am sitting in my office I am looking out at my garden and wishing the arrival of Spring.  I plant on a heavy clay soil which resists any work being undertaken until the middle of March.  However as I sit he I can see a Skimmia and a fine daphne.  The later in flower which lifts my soul and tells me there is not long to go before we see more sunshine and opportunities to enter the garden.  My dog ‘Alfie’ has made his usual winter paths through the lawn tearing the grass sward and leaving dark muddy tracks.  These I know will recover once the grass starts growing later in the season but to my eye are a constant distraction.  It also means every time he enters the house he is banished to the utility room.

Our neighbour has replaced a boundary line with a solid feather edge fence which is a great feature but requires me to remove the mixed hedge in front of it as we will not be able to maintain it at the height of the fence and visually I think it would be odd to see 450 mm (18″) of fencing sitting on top of the hedge.  Facing south it may provide a suitable frame and back drop to an espalier fruit tree and also a wisteria.  I will paint the fence first and as I often recommend to my clients I shall be painting it black as this really provides a great back drop to planting in front and helps the fence disappear as shadow.  Working in the garden has been a positive move.  My wife does not complain about the plant catalogues, plans and general pieces of paper and I have the ability to see out at the garden from my office.  I would stringy recommend this approach to home working as I find I am focused away from the house and feel I escape from the office when with my family in the house.  This topic may be my next blog topic and I will post some ideas I have for the position and style of building.

With that in mind I will get back to drawing up plans for my contractor who will be starting work upon the scheme below shortly.

 

 

 

 

 

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Media interest

Posted Monday, 19 May, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Having come up to the Chelsea Garden show week I am often brought back to fond memories working on stands for both Merrist Wood College and for Notcutts.   It is often the buzz of both staging the exhibit and the atmosphere of all the other exhibitors all working under a deadline to achieve as close to perfection as possible.  After over 18 Chelsea visits I have mixed feelings about not being involved but admire the work that goes into the stands.

Chelsea has become such a media highlight and the gardens are now pure theatre which is great for the spectacle but has sadly seen many forced out due to the vast costs required to stage and manage a stand.

On a lighter note I am delighted that Spun Gold TV has seen some of my work on my web site and will be arranging to visit the gardens view a view to filming on them.  How exciting for the clients who may have Alan Titchmarsh in their garden.  I understand he is filming for a programme called Love your garden.  I shall no doubt let you know once I have further news.

 

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Risks of tree damage in wind

Posted Thursday, 13 February, 2014 at 4:32 pm

These recent strong winds are a vivid reminder of the hurricane that struck in the 1980′s causing considerable damage to property and the lose of many trees.  I was working for Notcutts at the time of the hurricane and have strong memories of walking through a changed landscape with fallen trees everywhere.  The forest near to Woodbridge bore a close resemblance to the images we associate with the Western Front of World War 1.  Trees were toppled over and many trunks literally shattered as the wind struck.

Fortunately this time the winds are catching trees with no foliage and the mass of the trees’s canopy therefore considerably lessened.  In my village some trees have come over but this is limited.   health of your trees.  Walking in the meadows in Alvechurch we have a fine avenue of Chestnuts, these mature trees are sadly infected with Bleeding Canker and shows how important it is to check the trees. In the recent wind one of the trees has lost a limb.  The image shows the point at which it failed but also shows the fungal brachets on the external trunk of the tree.  The tree whilst looking reasonably well in the Summer it is slowly dying and decay that had been unnoticed had weakened the limb.  This caused the the limb to snap and fail at this weak point.  The white mycelium is clearly visible in the close up image and the wood was damp and soft to the touch.

If you do have trees growing in your garden, you as the owner have a duty of care to ensure the trees are safe.  This means you need to undertake regular inspections of the tree to assertion its health.  Tree surgeons are the most qualified professionals to call in to carry out this work, but I stress you must use a member of the Arboricultural Association as they a qualified and have undertaken a vetting procedure to ensure they operate in a safe manner.  There a too many cowboys in the industry and you need to ensure you gain the correct advice.  A cowboy will often advise the felling of the tree either to cover up ignorance of his or her ability to check out a trees health or to generate a contract to fell the tree.  The likelihood too is they will not check for a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or put in for the associated application for the removal of the tree.  This could land you as the owner of the tree in conflict with the local council who could fine you a considerable sum.  By undertaking regular checks the trees health can be monitored and if it did fall or ahead a limb you can show you have undertaken all reasonable measures to ensure the tree is safe.  This is important if your tree causes damage to adjoining property or causes injury to others.

Reminiscing again, I remember a discussion with a tree surgeon called Peter Scot from Southern Tree Services, about a Tree of Lebanon (cedar).  He warned me how as a tree they can just drop a limb – no warning.  The tree in question was close to the drive and should the limb drop considerable damage would have occurred to the property and the nearby parked car.  Other trees that drop limbs with little to no warning include Beech.  As a child I remember playing in Danbury Park and hearing a crack similar to that of a loud rifle.  A nearby beech tree had chosen that moment to lose a limb.  It was a dramatic event and one I remember each time I enter Alvechurch.  As I crest the hill by Sandhills Day Nursery I keep  one eye on the road the other at the tall beech oversailing the road.  I do hope they have had a tree surgeon in to look at it!

 

 

 

 

 

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Gardens and water logging

Posted Thursday, 6 February, 2014 at 3:39 pm

The recent wet weather conditions have continued for such a long period the ground is so saturated that any further rain creates land that becomes completed water logged.  This can cause great problems to the plants within such soils for as the water level rises the air is removed from the soil and carbon dioxide can not escape which leads to the plants roots dying.  Without roots the plant itself dies.  Indeed I read recently that a tree submerged for more than two weeks is likely to die.  The problem is there are few things we can implement whilst the ground is so wet.  It is important to keep off the ground as much as possible to reduce the physical compaction of the soil removing any soil structure and making the situation worse.

As the ground dried up you can help by roving any vegetation on the soil surface.  This will help to dry the soil out and ensures the top soil has a greater contact with the air above.  Damp dead leaves create a barrier the restricts such access.  Remove dying shoots and as the plant starts to make growth encourage it by applying a foliar feed.

Adding organic matter and a sharp horticultural grit will all help open the soil structure up encouraging air into the soil, and providing organic material for earthworms.  Often a good indicator of the health of a soil is the number of earthworms present.

Raised beds could be considered but these can be expensive and they need to be sufficiently wide enough to ensure they do not dry out too quickly.

Providing there is somewhere for water to go such as an existing ditch, drainage can be installed. Or, where appropriate, it may be worth digging out a ditch or seasonal pond at the lowest part of the garden.  This would catch surplus water and let it soak in slowly.  Here you could plant willows and flag iris which have root systems that have become adapted to deal in such water logged conditions.

Taking a tip from medieval farming methods you could plant on slightly raised mounds.  This mimics the plough and farrow method and provides the plant with a slightly elevated position.

A major factor in the flooding has been attributed to the paving over of front gardens.  I have posted various articles about this but if you do consider having a drive ensure you select a permeable method.  Discuss drive planning with your councillors and MP and see if we can help those in a lower catchment area by doing our bit.

There sadly are few quick fixes and inevitably come the Summer the ground will have drained and marginal plants will be struggling to obtain sufficient water.

 

 

 

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Article by Roger Harrabin – worth a read

Posted Wednesday, 5 February, 2014 at 7:08 am

UK going in ‘wrong direction’ on flooding, experts say

Roger HarrabinBy Roger HarrabinEnvironment analyst

A police van parked behind temporary flood defences at a river bankThe UK needs to spend an extra £500m on flood prevention, experts said

The government has been criticised by its own advisers for failing to prevent developments that contribute to flooding.

The Committee on Climate Change told BBC News that just as scientists are predicting more extreme weather, buildings are still being allowed on flood plains, gardens are still being paved over and urban green space is being lost.

The committee said an extra £500m was needed to stop flooding getting even worse.

The government said a record amount was already being spent on flood defences.

Members of the committee, the government’s official advisory body, have been exasperated by the row over dredging in the Somerset Levels.

‘Wrong direction’

They say the floods debate is far too narrow, and insist the whole water system in the UK needs to be re-engineered to catch water on the uplands and prevent flooding downstream.

The committee’s specialist on adapting to climate change, Daniel Johns, said: “Flood damages are expected to increase across the UK. Scientists are becoming bolder in attributing recent weather events and flooding to the level of global warming already observed.

“But measures of our exposure to flooding are going in the wrong direction.

Prince Charles gets out of a boat on a flooded roadPrince Charles visited flood-affected areas of Somerset on Tuesday

“Development appears to be continuing in areas of significant flood risk despite planning controls. Urban green space is being lost and gardens are being paved over. Permeable paving options are available but their take-up appears very low.

“Every millimetre of rain deposits a litre of water on a square metre of land. A day of even modest rainfall can deposit several million litres of water on a town or city.”

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

We are trying an approach that will be cheaper and more effective”

Steve WilsonWelsh Water

He called for the widespread adoption of so-called Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS), which capture water and slow the rate that it enters the drains.

If the £500m needed for flood risk management was not spent, increasing numbers of homes would be at “significant flood risk”, Mr Johns said.

“As a result, we can expect avoidable flooding to take place in future years, causing as much as perhaps £3bn in damages,” he said.

He said the £500m was needed over a four-year period.

Think differently

His comments were backed by Andrew Miller, chair of the Commons Science and Technology Committee.

Mr Miller said the government should reforest hillsides where soil had been compacted by sheep, and use “soft engineering” to capture rainfall in upstream areas.

“We have got to think differently about the way we do things,” he told BBC News.

“Clearly it makes sense for us to do engineering work upstream if we can slow down the flow of water much more cheaply and effectively than by taking measures downstream. These issues are even more important given the prospect of climate change.”

Pumps spray water into a riverMillions of tonnes of water have been pumped off flooded land in Somerset

Mr Miller said it was time to re-focus the debate on flooding towards prevention rather than cure.

What is believed to be the UK’s biggest preventive scheme is underway in Llanelli.

Welsh Water, a not-for-profit company, introduced it because the town’s sewerage system repeatedly flooded homes and polluted the River Lliedi.

It involves digging up stretches of tarmac and paving to create catchment pits for storm water, diverting water into the pits from gutters and finally putting grass and plants on top of the pits.

Other ways

The water is held in the soil and slowly seeps away or evaporates. The ideas have been praised by the water regulator Ofwat.

Steve Wilson, a director of Welsh Water, told BBC News: “Llanelli suffers quite a lot of flooding. Traditionally we would build bigger pipes or tanks to catch the water but we’re reaching the capacity of them too soon.

“So we are trying an approach that will be cheaper and more effective. We are taking water off the roofs and the streets, then instead of putting it down the highway drains we’re finding other ways of putting it back into the environment and being slowed down.”

He said some of the early parts of the scheme were catching more water than envisaged. He said the total project would take 22,500 cubic metres of water every year out of sewers, removing the risk of flooding from 57 properties.

Two men stand in a large ditch next to a school playgroundA “swale” is designed to collect water and reduce flooding elsewhere

Another local innovation is an ingeniously designed playground at the nearby Stebonheath Junior School, which includes a grassy hollow for trapping flood water – known as a swale.

Dylan Davies and Caitlin Thomas, both 11, said pupils had also helped design a rain-catching garden with a pond.

“The playground used to be all flooded. It’s much better now,” they said.

“When it rains, it runs off the roof and the playground into the swale which absorbs the water and pushes it gently into the drains. It doesn’t flood any more.”

Two children sitting on rocks next to a pond next to a school playgroundOne school has created a “rain-catching pond” to ease flooding problems

Recent changes in planning law oblige all new developments to catch water from their own site and prevent it adding to floods, although the full implementation of the law has been delayed by what critics claim is disarray in government.

Other experimental schemes are attempting to hold water on upland sites by cramming gorse into streams from peat bogs, blocking young rivers with fallen trees and creating low-level earth dams to contain water so it soaks into the soil.

It will be a challenge to devise policies that incentivise farmers to re-forest upland areas to catch water and stop soil running off into streams.Some think farmers should be obliged to change the way they farmin order to obtain their grants from taxpayers.

Tackling the legacy of decades of flood-inducing buildings in towns and cities will be even more costly and challenging. Water engineers hope major supermarkets will demonstrate their claims over social responsibility by breaking up their car parks and installing porous surfaces to catch run-off.

Scheme like this were recommended in the Pitt report into the 2007 floods. They will come under renewed scrutiny as the government studies the lessons to be learned from this year’s deluge.

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Lack of contractors – what to look for when finding a contractor

Posted Wednesday, 29 January, 2014 at 7:07 pm

With the recession came with it the decline in the landscape domestic market.  This downturn resulted in many landscape construction companies ceasing to trade.  There are many reasons why such companies pulled out of the market but most found their profit margins they made were being eroded by clients who understandably drove the price down to get the best deal they could.  Landscapers generally make small profits as a percentage of the contract and unlike builders are at greater risk of poor weather.

The market is improving and with clients feeling more confident the sector will again start to pick up.  The concern is where will all the work go.  As mentioned many contractors are no longer trading and those that have survived are generally feed contracts by designers who have kept them supplied with work throughout the recession.

So as a client looking for a contractor what can you do:

  1. Ideally use a designer who can suggest three contractors to price your scheme providing accurate plans and a specification to ensure you get like for like costs. It would be positive if you could give me a call but other sources for a good designer are looking at members of the Society of Garden Designers, SGD.
  2. Use contractors who are members of the Association of Professional Landscapers, APL or British Association of Landscape Industries, BALI.  You will pay more for these contractors but they have been vetted and provide financial securities to ensure your project is safe.
  3. Look out for contractors in the working in the area, have a look at the work.  This is alright providing you can see through the mud and general site upheaval during this phase of work and that you know what is and is not good building/working practice.
  4. Speak to your local builders merchant/ garden centre.

Clients need to see past work if they are uncertain but remember you will always see their best work and most satisfied client.  Ask to see the current project to and if possible speak to the client as well.

A good contractor is worth their weight in gold and when discussing costs remember that the contractor needs sufficient capital to build your garden and make a profit in order to both survive and invest in new equipment and staff training.  A good guide is 50% of your contract will be the labour element.  Ask how long the contractor intends to be on site and with how many men and do the maths.  Allow wet weather delays etc and you will find most charge a fair price.  Remember  when you are considering the work, it is better to spend a bit more and get the job built correctly than spend it twice having to repair poor workmanship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Once again flooding hits the News

Posted Thursday, 2 January, 2014 at 8:35 am

Having mentioned this in various posts I am amazed at the number of drives that seem to be built that seem to have scant regard to the current planning requirements.  Indeed it would be interesting to say the least to see if ay applications have been submitted for drives.  The current guidelines shown below come directly from the Bromsgrove District web site http://www.worcestershire.gov.uk/cms/dropped-kerbs/plan-permission-not-required.aspx   Most drives I see being built fail to address surface water and the token Aco drain fails to appreciate the volume of water that comes of a drive.  The average drive will be easily 40-80 sq m and with just 10mm of rain will produce 200-400 litres of surface water.  An Aco drain not connected to a suitable soak away or attenuation storage system will quickly fill and start to discharge the water directly into the nearby gully system and overload the capacity of the drains resulting in flooding.  Swales and wet land beds are other systems that help ensure the water is directed to non hard surfaces and encourages a gradual release of the water into the surrounding land.

The link below provides further information from Marshall paving proving solutions including the use or permeable concrete blocks to allow water to drain into a grit and open sub base medium.

https://www.marshalls.co.uk/commercial/upload/pdfs/water-management/Permeable%20Paving%20Design%20Guide.pdf

 

Before embarking upon a drive it is worth considering if you need to incorporate such systems before undertaking the work.

 

‘Paving Your Front Garden

Planning permission

From 1 October 2008 new rules apply for householders wanting to pave over their front gardens.

You will NOT need planning permission if a new driveway uses permeable (or porous) surfacing which allows water to drain through, such as gravel, permeable concrete block paving or porous asphalt, or if the rainwater is directed to a lawn or border to drain naturally.

If the surface to be covered is more than five square metres planning permission will be needed for laying traditional, impermeable driveways that do not control rainwater running off onto roads.

How Permeable Surfaces Work

Loose Gravel

This is the simplest type of construction. The driveway sub-base is covered by a surface layer of gravel or shingle.

Gravel with different shapes and colours is available to make the surface more decorative.

A strip of block paving or asphalt at the entrance can limit the loss and spread of gravel from the drive.

Hard Permeable and Porous Surfaces

Hard surfacing which allows water to soak into it can be built with porous asphalt, porous concrete blocks, concrete or clay block permeable paving.

The material has open voids across the surface of the material or around the edges of blocks that allow water to soak through

To work effectively permeable surfaces should be laid over a sub-base which differs from traditional hardcore which has a lot of fine material in it (sand and silt) that stops water passing through it easily.

For permeable and porous driveways different sub-base materials are required that allow water to pass through and also store the water for a while if it cannot soak into the ground as fast as the rain falls.

Various materials are available and two examples are known as 4/20 and Type 3 sub-base.

Materials for permeable sub-base are described as open graded and consist only of larger pieces of stone that have spaces between to store water.’

 

 

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Phytophthora ramorum

Posted Saturday, 14 December, 2013 at 6:50 pm

This is a plant disease that has resulted in mass tree clearance to the mature trees within my locality.  There are some signage up but the likelihood of complete compliance to safety measures means this will spread an infect more trees as a result.

The Origin of Phytophora ramorum is impossible to ascertain.  Initially it was linked to the USA However, contrary to some views, research has shown that it did not arrive here from the USA. The evidence suggests that P. ramorum is native to another part of the world, possibly Asia. Other European countries (Germany and The Netherlands) are now known to have had findings of the pathogen (as a then unknown Phytophthora) on shrubs dating back to 1993, but these are also likely to have been introduced.

Few trees in the UK were affected until 2009, when P. ramorum was found infecting and killing large numbers of Japanese larch trees in South West England. Then in 2010 it was found on Japanese larches in Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and 2011 it was confirmed at locations in western Scotland.

On trees, symptoms include lesions – sometimes known as bleeding cankers – that exude fluid from infected bark, visible as a black exudate that can dry to a crust on the trunk. The inner bark under this bleeding area is usually discoloured and dying. Trees die when the lesions become extensive on the main trunk. Infection by P. ramorum on Japanese larch can take two forms. Phytophthora RamorumShoots and foliage can be affected, visible as wilted, withered shoot tips with blackened needles. The infected shoots shed their needles prematurely. Trees with branch dieback can have numerous resinous cankers on the branches and upper trunk. On other plants, it infects the leaves and shoots of ornamental shrubs such as rhododendron, viburnum, pieris and camellia. Although it does not usually kill these plants, infected leaves of some of these ‘foliar hosts’ can generate many spores, and in sufficient numbers these spores can then infect the bark of certain tree species. Typical symptoms on rhododendron include leaf-blackening, wilted shoots and die-back. On individual leaves, blackening of the leaf stalk usually extends into the leaf along the mid-vein, although blackening at the leaf tip can also occur. The progress of the disease can be so rapid that shoots wilt and the leaves hang down.

If you see trees that are displaying such symptoms it would be worth contacting the Forestry Commission providing them details of where you have seen the outbreak.  The West Midlands falls within the Zone 2 area which indicates medium risk but I anticipate this will increase as more people become aware of the disease.  If you need to contact the Forestry commission you should email them on email:   plant_health_england@forestry.gsi.gov.uk

Attached video shows how to identify Phytophera ramorum on Larch trees

http://youtu.be/S22j-mvRYGY

 

 

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Ash Dieback 9th November

Posted Friday, 9 November, 2012 at 2:12 pm
Today, Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, announced an “action plan” following a meeting of the government’s emergency committee Cobra.

Mr Paterson has now admitted that the scientific advice had concluded that it would not be “possible to eradicate this disease now that we have discovered it in mature trees” although he insisted it would not mean the complete death of ash.

Among the immediate measures announced today included destroying “newly-planted diseased trees” and those found to be dying in nurseries because young specimens “succumb quickly” to the disease.  Mature trees are less susceptable to this disease and at this stage  Mr Paterson has ruled out cutting down or burning mature ash trees to stop the disease.  These mature trees have been deemed to be too “valuable” to Britain’s wildlife.  This decision comes after experts said specimens should be allowed to live as they are still good for wildlife and can be used for fuel.  It is hoped that these mature ash trees will provide valuable evidence for scientists to study and hopefully find “genetic strains that might be resistant to the disease”.

The action plan will also concentrate on research, public awareness and practical measures to stop the spread of the disease.  Of concern to me is the slow decline of ash trees will become accepted by the public and the response to replanting of our woods no additional tree planting will be forthcoming due to lack of funding and public understanding.

 

Mr Paterson stated “If we can slow its spread and minimise its impact, we will gain time to find those trees with genetic resistance to the disease and to restructure our woodlands to make them more resilient.”

“The groups that put such a lot of effort into looking after our wildlife and our countryside will play a major role in minimising the impact of Chalara and so will the general public, especially when it comes to spotting other areas where the disease has taken hold.”  This response is all very good but will require greater public awareness.

He added: “Our plans have been developed through bringing together Britain’s top experts and listening seriously to their advice.

“We now have a window of opportunity for action because the disease only spreads in the summer.”

Let’s hope we can make the most of the winter, organise and put into place practical measures for recording the spread and encouraging additional planting of trees to ensure we still maintain our countryside.

 

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