WELSH singer Cerys Matthews is backing a new Welsh Government Plant Health campaign to enhance our enjoyment of the garden and adopt best practice to control the spread of pests and diseases.
The physical and mental health benefits of planting and growing are well understood, and as spring approaches our thoughts turn to our precious gardens, as people across Wales make their planting plans and purchases for the growing season ahead.
Plant enthusiast and famous singer, songwriter, author and broadcaster Cerys Matthews is backing a Welsh Government campaign to offer advice and guidance to enhance our enjoyment of the garden, by sourcing plants carefully, inspecting them on arrival to detect and control the spread of pests and diseases, and adopting good husbandry practices.
Cerys is passionate about the countryside, and created the Good Life Experience festival of culture and the great outdoors in North Wales.
She said: “I adore plants, I talk to them and play music to them. They are just so vitally important, providing the oxygen we breathe and the food we eat, and bring life to our iconic countryside.
“We need to look after plants and keep them healthy and free of plant pests and diseases.”
With garden centres in Wales currently closed and buyers sourcing online, the campaign’s key plant biosecurity messages are:
- Buy plants from knowledgeable suppliers who you can ask where the plant was sourced from, how to care for it, and what plant pests and diseases it might be prone to.
- Seek advice from Wales’ excellent network of independent, knowledgeable garden centres and retailers.
- Regularly clean your garden tools and footwear to stop the spread of invasive plants, plant pests or plant diseases.
- Dispose of unwanted plants and plant material responsibly. Not all plants are suitable for composting. Do not allow invasive plants, plant pests or plant diseases to spread from your land.
There are a number of ways you can control plant pests, weeds and diseases. Always consider non-chemical control before using chemical pesticides.
If you do decide to use pesticides, always read the product label carefully before use. This may specify or recommend specific actions for use. Always dispose of unused pesticides and pesticide containers responsibly.
This Plant Health campaign is being supported by 21 Plant Health Sentinel Sites across Wales.
These are parks and gardens, such as the National Botanic Garden, Bodnant Garden, and Dyffryn Gardens, that are working with our Animal and Plant Health inspectors to act as an early warning system for plant pests and diseases, and promoting good plant health practice to the wider public for the benefit of our wildlife, the environment, our culture, well-being and economy.
The network took part this week in a virtual event, which was addressed by Welsh Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths MS, a keen gardener herself.
The Minister said: “Protecting plants safeguards life, creating the air we breathe and most of the food we eat. We appreciate now, more than ever before, how important our plants, gardens and parks are to our life and wellbeing, and this campaign will promote best practice and help people grow healthy plants.”
The campaign is also backed by famous Welsh landscape designers the Rich brothers, Gold Medal winners at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show; TV gardening presenter Meinir Gwilym; and Medwyn Williams, 12 times Chelsea Gold winner for his outstanding vegetables.
Further information on non-chemical control may be found on the RHS website https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=1023.
The campaign is also working with Tyfu Cymru, funded by Welsh Government to build the capacity and capability of the Welsh horticulture industry, who are spreading the biosecurity message amongst the commercial sector, raising awareness of the real threats of plant pests and diseases like Xyllela, a destructive plant pathogen best known for its effect on Italian olive trees.