Getting involved to create solutions

Occasionally, you hear of something so gloriously stupid that you have to laugh. I'm particularly fond of the story that a wealthy American called Robert McCullon bought the old London Bridge and re-built it in the Arizona desert under the mistaken belief that he'd bought Tower Bridge 

Unfortunately, not all silly things are quite so easy to laugh at. A recent Defra consultation proposed a ban on the sale of certain pernicious, non-native plants. If you're thinking of giant hogweed or deadly nightshade you might not find this at all silly, but the list included Cotoneaster horizontalis Award of Garden Merit (AGM) and Quercus ilex AGM. I know both of these plants fairly well and can't really imagine either of them ever causing me much personal injury. Unless perhaps someone very big were to throw one at me.

Thankfully, there's a method of catching most of the lunacy before it gets into the system. Consultations do make the rounds and those who might be affected get the chance to have their say.

But now oak trees are under attack as processionary moths are becoming a real problem. The demand that plants should only be brought into the country from areas free of the pest seems sensible enough, but there's no process in place to demonstrate an oak is actually clean. There's a very real danger that we might find a ban on the import of oaks unless they are accompanied by some kind of certificate that doesn't even yet exist.

Our trade bodies are being consulted, and they in turn are consulting nurserymen, so things should work out fine. However, things can go wrong when the system is faulty and when we nurserymen don't get involved as much as we should. We'll all complain bitterly if the authorities come up with a stupid solution to a problem, but we'll only have ourselves to blame if we don't get involved when asked to do so. It doesn't take much to find out what's being proposed, just as it wouldn't have taken much for Robert McCullon to know which bridge he was getting.


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