In March 2012, the pathogen was found among Arduaine’s larch trees. FCS placed a notice on the Argyllshire garden under Article 31(4) of the Plant Health (Forestry) Order 2005 requiring that all the larch, regardless of whether they are showing signs of infection should be felled or killed by January 2014. This would have resulted in the immediate loss of around 1,000 larch trees, taking out the garden’s shelter belt.
But following aerial observation by the Forestry Commission over the last two seasons, it became apparent that the progression of ramorum disease at Arduaine has not been as rapid as elsewhere in the UK.
Spore trapping by the Scottish Government’s Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) division in late summer/autumn 2012 also found no indication of substantial levels of spore production among Arduaine’s larch trees.
On this basis, FCS is content that subject to continuous monitoring by Trust staff, the remaining larch trees do not need to be felled unless or until early symptoms of infection become apparent.
Aerial surveillance will also continue as a further precaution. If there are any changes suggestive of ramorum becoming more active, FCS will join with trust staff in reviewing what action is necessary to protect the garden and adjacent woodland owners.
Maurice Wilkins, head gardener and property manager at Arduaine, said: "Visitors will have noticed very little change to the wonderful setting and plant collections at Arduaine despite the issues we have been dealing with.
"We are optimistic that this very welcome news from Forestry Commission Scotland means that some of the more drastic actions we had expected to take are now no longer necessary and that there is even less to concern visitors.
Calum Ross, chair of the Arduaine Garden Support Group and the owner of the Loch Melfort Hotel which neighbours Arduaine Garden said: "This is great news for the area.
"While we knew that visitors were highly unlikely to be responsible for transferring the pathogen’s spores, we were worried that publicity about Ramorum might have been off-putting to some.
"This latest development should prove to everyone that there is absolutely nothing to prevent people enjoying the garden and this wonderful part of the world, and I urge them to come here and offer their support to one of the most unique of Scotland’s gardening gems."