Gardens can be sanctuaries. If you live in an urban area you in particular will know how precious a small piece of nature can be when surrounded by a world of noise bustling with people. Being able to step outside and take a few deep breaths of fresh air or watching children explore the outdoors is sometimes all that is needed to keep us sane.
But our gardens are under attack. It has been estimated that 400,000 plant varieties are grown in UK gardens, attracting a proportionally wide diversity of pests and diseases. The RHS is the only organisation currently undertaking surveillance to keep an eye on which pests and diseases are most problematic in UK gardens so they can be better understood through research. The more we understand the biology of a pest or disease, the more likely we can develop better ways to treat it or potentially prevent plants from being susceptible in the first place.
In order to determine which pests and diseases are most important in UK gardens, the main outcome of this project is to produce a prioritised list of the top 10 most important pests and the top 10 most important diseases in UK gardens.
The RHS has previously used the most common advice enquiries from its members to construct a list of the top 10 most important pests and diseases, whereas this project will use a different approach in an effort to increase awareness of the named pests and diseases amongst gardeners, policy makers, research funders and scientists through the use of a national survey.
Your thoughts and experiences are incredibly important in informing the RHS of which species require the most attention and research so please help by contributing your opinions on which pests and diseases you think are most important when the survey becomes available in a few months! I will be posting a link to the survey in this space and on the associated social media pages.
This survey forms the main constituent of my masters’ degree, being a joint project between Royal Holloway University of London and the Royal Horticultural Society. I will be posting updates as the project progresses but if you would like to know more about it please feel free to leave a comment or contact me on any of the associated social media pages.