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Growing Trees in Britain - A Nursery Perspective

Trees Grown on a British Nursery

It is a feature of our lovely land that even something as joyous as tree planting can be affected by media hype. I was recently walking through our tree nursery and stopping with our nursery manager to look at our Ash stocks. We had 120,000 very healthy ash trees on the nursery with a government ban stopping any tree nursery moving any ash trees at all. So we took the hard decision to burn all those healthy trees to make way for other species. As the tide of 'progress' marches on, we sat down in our nursery office and considered the issue of tree health in Britain.

Tree Diseases

It is not just about the loss of our ash trees, which now appears to have been overblown anyway. Estimates of survival rates in Ash in Europe vary from 1-40% and rate of spread throughout Britain ranges from 2-20 years. But there are far more vigorous and damaging tree diseases out there of which as a nursery we are acutely aware. Have you noticed evergreen conifers going brown? Perhaps it started at the bottom of the tree and spread upwards? Well it's likely to be a Phytophthora disease (Greek for Plant Killer). These fungus-like organisms spread by a variety of ways, but they are normally water-borne and infect root systems, which is why conifer trees go brown from the roots up. The only option is to remove the trees and leave it without trees for 3 years (or at least plant a different type of tree) so that the spores all die - weed killer, disinfectant etc will not work!

Grown on a British Nursery

But the best option is prevention, and that's where a good nursery comes in. Most of these diseases come in on imported plants sold on websites and garden centres throughout the UK. Often, there is no mention of which nursery it was grown in, or sometimes it mentions grow in Britain but perhaps it has only spent a short period on a British nursery: there are no set standards about claims to be grown in Britain. And a lot of disease can be held in a root plug! So your best bet is to ensure that you are buying plants and trees which have been grown from seed on a nursery in Britain and at no point have left Britain, nor have they ever come into contact with trees which have been grown on a nursery outside Britain.

And that's exactly what buy-trees-online promises.

18 October 2013 at 10:37 / Comment

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