Almost 1,000 plants affected by Phytophthora ramorum are now listed on the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs plant health interception and outbreak chart.
Inspectors have already intercepted hundreds of rhododendrons from Holland, Germany and France; something that Plant Health & Seeds Inspectorate eradication officer David Slawson says is a “sign there is still infected material moving around the trade”. “It’s not just from the near continent, some is in our own production, which means we can’t be complacent.”
Slawson added: “We’ve upped the inspection level and we’re now beginning to see the effect of that increase.”
Following a meeting of 35 delegates from local authorities, the National Trust and historic gardens in the area — held last week in St Austell, Cornwall — Slawson said that there are “probably” more outbreaks to come.
“The meeting was a two-way exchange of information. All parties left better informed. The message we want to get to people is it’s right to be concerned, but we don’t want people to be alarmed.”
There are 310 cases in England and Wales and 350 in the UK overall, with 40 findings on plants growing outside in soil. Around 90 sites are still under notice.
Slawson appeared on television at the Lost Gardens of Heligan, where managing director Peter Stafford said he wanted infected trees to remain standing for research purposes.
Slawson added, alluding to Heligan and nearby Caerhays Castle, which is also affected: “All heavily infected high-risk plants have been eradicated at all but these two high-risk sites
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