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Sand Hutton Scientists Win Medal at Chelsea Flower Show

Fera Garden 2013 Design Visual

5:45pm 21st May 2013

The groundbreaking “Stop the Spread” show garden at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show has been awarded a silver medal.

The “Stop the Spread” garden was created by garden and landscape designer Jo Thompson and commissioned by the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera). The garden contrasts the beauty of a British garden with the potentially damaging effects plant pests and diseases and invasive non-native species could have on our natural environment in a way never seen before at the Show.

The Fera show garden design includes a beautiful sunken garden featuring herbaceous planting and a sculpture by Tom Stogdon, bordered by quintessential woodland trees and lush shade-loving planting.

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 of Phytophthoraramorum and Chalara fraxinea spores and leaves of the highly invasive non-native aquatic plant Floating Pennywort.

David Slawson, Head of Plant Health Public engagement at Fera said:

“A huge thank you goes to Jo Thompson for translating my ideas into the eye-catching design that has made such an impact on the media and the public.

“Raising public awareness and providing advice about how everyone can help us prevent the introduction and spread of plant pests and diseases is a high priority for Government.

“The RHS Chelsea Flower Show offers us an innovative way to reach a large target audience of gardeners and professionals.

“Ultimately we want to change the behavior of gardeners so they take action including being more aware of the provenance of their plants, being more patient in planting small plants and watching them grow; cleaning footwear and other equipment regularly; avoiding bringing plants or cuttings home from trips abroad and preventing plants from escaping out of gardens.”

Garden designer Jo Thompson, said:

“I’m delighted with all the positive comments I have received so far about the “Stop the Spread” garden and all the media attention that the garden has generated. The garden is meant to be thought provoking. I designed it for Fera to creatively show what impact plant pests and diseases, and invasive non-native species, can have on our environment now and for future generations.

“I pushed the boundaries of the design by including some dramatic darker elements such as the lifeless trees to show the worst case scenario of what could happen if we did nothing to stop the spread of plant pests and diseases.

“I do hope the garden will continue to highlight to the public that we can all work together to protect our natural heritage.”

The discovery of ash dieback in 2012 reinforced the need to step up efforts to reduce the likelihood of accidently introducing and spreading pests, diseases and invasive species which could severely impact on our natural environment.

Tree diseases such as Chalara (ash dieback) and Phytophthora ramorum, and pests such as Oak Processionary Moth, can kill or weaken trees, while invasive plant species, such as Floating Pennywort and Water Primrose, can grow out of control clogging garden ponds.

When they escape from gardens into the wider environment, pests, diseases and invasive nonnative species can cause extensive environmental and economic damage. For example, in Britain alone, the damage caused by invasive non-native species is estimated to cost at least £1.7 billion every year.

Professor Chris Gilligan launched the publication of the independent taskforce report on tree health and plant biosecurity from the ‘Stop the Spread’ garden yesterday. The taskforce, which was set up as a result of the discovery of Chalara fraxinea in the UK last year, to consider and address the current and possible future threats to tree health, made a number of recommendations on how the UK can fight tree and plant pests and diseases.

Sponsors and supporters of the “Stop the Spread” show garden include Defra, Forestry Commission, National Trust, Welsh Government, Scottish Government, Woodland Trust, Horticultural Trades Association and Timber Packaging and Pallet Confederation.

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