Read recent gardening news snippets here…
Careers in horticulture on the decline
Gardening in crisis according to RHS
A new report by the RHS shows how horticultural companies are struggling to fill skilled positions because of a severe shortage of qualified people in the UK. Mary Keen recently said on Radio 4’s Today programme that there is a “mindset that gardeners are a bit thick” and that a career in horticulture is considered ‘uncool’. However, the range of careers in horticulture is vast and ranges from practical to academic options. On the same show Anne Gunning talked about the importance of getting primary school-aged children interested in gardening, in the hope that some will continue through secondary school and eventually take it up as a career. The RHS Campaign for School Gardening aims to do just this and has a wealth of information on the benefits of gardening from a young age.
Twitter users to control Chelsea Flower Show garden
Visitors to this year’s Chelsea Flower Show will be able to control part of a show garden by tweeting with the hashtag #rhschelsea. The ‘Digital Capabilities’ garden features a huge screen that’s connected to a computer and conceals exotic plants. Tweeting activates the screen and panels will open to reveal parts of the garden.
Only pick mushrooms if you know that they are safe, like the ones in this photo
Beware of poisonous mushrooms
A woman in Somerset died after making soup with mushrooms that she had picked from her garden. Not realising that they were death cap mushrooms, she prepared and ate the soup, but tragically died four days after eating it. Death cap mushrooms are similar in appearance to safe mushrooms, but eating just one death cap can kill and there is no antidote. You should only pick mushrooms if you are absolutely certain that you know they are safe – if in doubt, don’t pick them.
Here is our round-up of this week’s gardening news and happenings in the gardening world.
The triumphant T&M team
T&M team raises over £1000 for Greenfingers charity
T&M staff took part in the 10k Grand East Anglian Run in Kings Lynn on Sunday to raise funds for Greenfingers, the charity that creates gardens for children’s hospices. Web team member Martin Fox came first in the T&M team and in 86th place overall – out of a total of 1557 runners. Martin said “I’d just like to say a big thank you to everyone who donated so generously to such a great cause and well done to the other T&M runners who all ran so brilliantly on the day. Next year we hope to be back with far greater numbers and beat the total we raised this year!”
Hedgehog Awareness Week
Hedgehog Awareness Week 5th-11th May 2013
Britain’s hedgehog population has faced a massive decline in recent years, caused in part by intensive agriculture, use of pesticides and badgers, a natural predator. Hedgehog Awareness Week takes place each year to help highlight the problems they face and what we can do to help them. The British Hedgehog Preservation Society has plenty of advice on how to create a safe haven for hedgehogs in your own garden.
Hanging Gardens of Babylon?
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon…
…might not have been in Babylon, according to new research. There is now evidence to show that they were in fact near modern-day Mosul in northern Iraq, some 300 miles north of Babylon. Stephanie Dalley, an expert in ancient languages and Research Fellow at Oxford’s Somerville College has spent years analysing ancient texts, many of which have been wrongly translated. German archaeologists had spent nearly 20 years at the Babylon site, but couldn’t find enough evidence that the gardens were actually there. Dalley found that there simply wasn’t the space in Babylon for such a vast garden, whereas Nineveh, the new site, has a network of canals and aqueducts, one of which appears to be the size of a motorway.
Caterpillars of the oak processionary moth are to be targeted with a pesticide distributed by helicopter. They feed on oak trees and are covered in toxic hairs that can cause allergic reactions, such as itchy rashes and eye and throat irritations. The bacterial agent used will target the moths, but it is not harmful to humans or animals, according to the Forestry Commission. People are being warned not to touch the caterpillars.
Gardening news – read our summary of the latest news in the gardening world here
EU votes on neonicotinoid ban
Bees – pesticides
EU states are due to vote today on a 2-year ban on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, which threaten the survival of bees and other pollinators. Should the ban be approved, it will only apply to crops that are attractive to bees – professional growers will still be able to use the pesticides on other crops, including winter cereals. Research indicates that neonicotinoids affects bees’ brains in such a way that they are unable to find nectar to bring back to the hive.
Update: The EU has banned three neonicotinoid pesticides – clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam. The moratorium is due to be in place by 1st December.
Can culling badgers save songbirds?
From June, 5,000 badgers will be culled in a four-year trial to try to control the spread of tuberculosis in cattle. What’s that got to do with songbirds? Badgers are known to kill and eat small songbirds such as blackbirds, yellowhammers and skylarks. Defra is hoping to carry out research to find out whether the badger cull will have a positive effect on songbird populations, which have fallen by more than 40 million in the last 4 decades.
Ivy – food source for honeybees
Grow ivy to feed honey bees in the autumn
Despite its somewhat bad reputation for damaging brickwork and smothering trees, ivy is an important food source for honeybees. Mature ivy plants produce small green flowers that homey bees feed on in the autumn, when flowers are scarce. Many gardeners are keen to cut ivy down, but if you’ve got ivy growing on a fence, it’s well worth leaving the plant to mature for honey bees to feed on.
New hybrid grass may reduce flooding
UK researchers have developed a grass that may help to reduce flooding caused by water run-off from grazing areas into river systems. The roots of the new grass, a hybrid of perennial ryegrass and meadow fescue, improved the structure of heavy clay soils. This means that the soil is able to hold more water and reduces run-off by 51%.
The Archers comes to Afghanistan
The Archers… in Afghanistan
A British soldier and farmer by trade who is currently on tour in Afghanistan has created a local equivalent of The Archers. The show, ‘Crops and the Farmer’, aims to help farmers to grow alternative crops to opium and is proving to be a real hit.
Read the latest gardening news here.
EC fight to help bees goes on
Neonicotinoid debate goes on
Neonicotinoids have been in the news a lot lately, with the EC calling for a 2-year ban on the use of any pesticides containing the chemicals, claiming that they are harmful to bees. Several studies have been done to find out exactly what happens and it seems that opinions are split. Some research shows that bees’ brains are affected by these pesticides, which make them “unable to learn and then remember floral smells associated with a sweet nectar reward – a skill that is essential for bees in search of food.” However, a report published by DEFRA says that there is “no link between bee health and exposure to neonicotinoids.” The EC is to appeal and hopes that a ban will still be put in place from July. (Source: BBC News website).
UK diets lacking in fruit and veg
Eat more fruit and veg!
Britons are reportedly eating 43% more food than they should each year, but 69% less fruit and 75% less vegetables. That means that many of us aren’t getting anywhere near the recommended 5-a-day. The new study by Weight Watchers suggests that we’re eating more butter, meat, biscuits and cakes than we should. Food prices have risen dramatically and growing your own is becoming more and more popular. It’s the perfect way get more fruit and veg in your diet and you know exactly what’s in it and on it.
Heavy metal band supports garden designer
A Northamptonshire garden designer’s dream came true when Metallica donated thousands of pounds to his Hampton Court Palace Show project. MP Louise Mensch (married to the band’s manager) emailed Arek Luc to ask how much he needed to complete the project. A short time later, a cheque for several thousands of pounds arrived in the post from the band’s New York office!
Read our selection of the week’s gardening news here.
Time to start gardening!
Time to start gardening
It’s time to get your gardening gloves on and brave the cold! Spring is late this year, but the RHS has advised gardeners to get on with vital gardening jobs, otherwise they risk getting caught out when the warm weather finally arrives. If you haven’t got a greenhouse, start sowing seeds in mini pots or old vending cups and place them on windowsills. There’s still plenty of time for mulching, pruning, planting shrubs, deadheading and routing out early perennial weeds. Your garden will benefit from all this work and you’ll still be able to fill your garden with colour. Find out what you can do in your garden here.
Hope in the fight against ash dieback disease
Scientists have discovered two ash trees in Denmark with high levels of resistence to the deadly ash dieback disease which threatens to destroy Britain’s ash trees. In 2005 ash trees in Denmark suffered the same fate, but some didn’t succumb – namely those taken from cuttings of trees ’35’ and ’18’. These two trees are now being bred together to create a new disease-resistent generation and UK scientists are working on a test that will enable them to find trees in Britain’s woodlands that are genetically tolerant to ash dieback.
Garden birds in decline
Bird numbers decline
The results of the 2013 RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch are now available and clearly show a sharp decline in several garden birds. Numbers of starlings and house sparrows, both on the ‘red list’ of most threatened species, dropped by 16% and 17% respectively. There was good news for siskins, fieldfares and jays – their numbers were up by as much as 85%! Gardens are vital for birds’ survival and there is so much that you can do make your own garden a haven for wildlife. The RSPB has lots of information on its website and you can also find out more on Thompson & Morgan’s ‘Plants for Wildlife’ page.
Britain’s oldest gardener on Twitter
Ralph Hoare, 104, is Britain’s oldest known gardener and has decided to share his almost 100 years of gardening knowledge on Twitter. He stills enjoys working in his garden and roses are his speciality – he’s got about 200 rose bushes and his great-grandchildren help him with dead-heading. #AskRalph is a new feature on the Furniture Village Twitter page and members of the public can post questions for him to answer.
William Thompson, friend of Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin’s former gardens open to the public
Visitors to Shrewsbury will be able to see the former gardens of Charles Darwin, a friend of Thompson & Morgan’s founder William Thompson, when they are opened to the public next week. Guided walks exploring the original Darwin estate start next week and continue until September. All money raised from the tours will go towards urgent repairs to St. George’s Church in Frankwell. Spaces are limited and booking is essential – call (01743) 258888 to book.