I’m heading to RHS Chelsea 2019!
I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019, with an exhibit called Ornamental plants: our future invaders? in the Discovery Zone. This is part of my PhD project on identifying ornamental plants with invasive potential. This is an exciting (but equally daunting) opportunity; to be at what is arguably the most famous of flower shows. I remember watching TV coverage of the Show many years ago with my Taid (grandfather), who originally got me interested in gardening. I’ll be writing a few blogs as I prepare for the Show. Firstly, the inspiration for the concept.
The exhibit will explain the detrimental ecological impacts that invasive ornamental plants can have on the wider environment. The original idea came from wanting to explain the naturalisation-invasion process (Fig.1). That is, how ornamental plants are introduced intentionally for horticulture, and some of these then ‘escape beyond the garden fence’ and might become invasive (represented by the red arrows). The black arrows represent the factors that influence this process.
The plants for this exhibit have been selected to represent this process; including plants which might become invasive in the future due to climate change. The choice of plants is also a direct result of my current online survey, asking gardeners to help identify the invasive ornamental plants of the future. You can help by joining over 450 gardeners who have already completed the survey. I’ll be sharing more information about my choice of plants – and the challenge of having them looking beautiful for Chelsea – soon!
The role of gardeners
Gardeners have an important role in preventing and managing invasive plants. Not only can they be the first to observe plants showing signs of invasive characteristics, but it is also important that gardeners dispose of their garden waste responsibly. For example, not throwing unwanted plants over the garden fence because these can then flourish. Click here for the RHS advice on responsible disposal of ornamental plants. Not only will the exhibit have this educational purpose, visitors will also have the opportunity to report plants these they are finding to be invasive or problematic in their own gardens and give information on their management – contributing to this important field of research.
The RHS Gardening in a Changing Climate report.
Levine, J.M., Adler, P.B. and Yelenik, S.G., 2004. A meta-analysis of biotic resistance to exotic plant invasions. Ecology Letters, 7, pp.975-989.
Milbau, A. and Stout, J.C., 2008. Factors Associated with Alien Plants Transitioning from Casual, to Naturalized, to Invasive. Conservation Biology, 22(2), pp.308-317.