Edwards On ... Grown-up trade copes with tough issues

Looking back, 2012 looks anything but normal. It started so dry, drought seemed inevitable. Then the rain came.

Tim Edwards
Tim Edwards

It was certainly not easy to grow plants. In fact, it was so difficult the public were obliged to accept "ugly veg" and there was sympathy for those trying to make a living by growing things. Then the beloved ash tree made the news - and yet more sympathy for growers.

We growers should be pleased with the way the trade responded to the issues of 2012. Media management was controlled and constructive. There was sensible discussion with Government and the water authorities on hose pipe bans, sensible coverage of the difficulty of producing uniform food crops and sensible discussion about the impact of ash die back. Our trade has grown up over the past few years - it pre-empts problems and knows how to minimise potential damage.

No one knows what the weather will throw at us over the next 12 months, but not many expect the seasons to conform to stereotypes of old. Yet that is, presumably, what our native flora and fauna are genetically programmed to survive. There is a theory that the plants best suited to the weather patterns this country will face in 100 years' time are currently growing in other parts of the world. There is an argument for bringing plants from across the globe to trial them under conditions that might one day be normal.

Maybe. Then there are those who point out that ash die back, Dutch elm disease and chestnut blight are all diseases that devastated tree populations because plants were moved around the globe without thought for the consequences.

No one knows how climate change will affect us in the future, nor what plants will best survive, and no one knows what movement of plants about the globe will trigger. But the horticultural trade is grown up enough to take part in or even to start some of the discussions now needed. There is plenty that happened in 2012 that I would not want to see again, but I will be happy to see more of that dialogue in 2013.

Tim Edwards is chairman of Boningale Nurseries.


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