Gardeners’ World: Monty Don discusses ‘biggest threats’ to trees – ‘list is growing’

Gardeners' World: Expert discusses 'biggest threat' to trees

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Gardeners’ World’s latest episode was dedicated to trees and the vital role they place in our gardens and landscape. During the episode, lead presenter Monty Don visited Hergest Croft Gardens in Kington, Herefordshire. While he was there he met with tree expert Toby Kirkham who discussed the “biggest threats” trees face now.

Toby said: “Generally speaking, today, the biggest threats to trees are changing climate.

“The seasons seem to be merging and we’re going away from four seasons into two.

“Autumn merges into winter and then spring merges into summer and plants get mixed up.

“Remember, trees have been around for millennia and over a very short period of time – the 45 years that I’ve been working with trees – that has been a very big change.

“Trees need a rest. Trees are like you and I. We need our sleep.

“If we don’t get our regular sleep pattern then we’re a bit grumpy, a bit moody, a bit stressy.

“It’s the same with trees – they need that winter dormancy just to relax and rest and get everything back to normal ready for the next growing season.

“That rest period is getting shorter and shorter and shorter.

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“Then the growing season where they have to work is getting longer and longer.”

Trees are also facing problems due to how “interconnected” our world is, according to Monty.

People are able to visit countries abroad more readily thanks to air travel being more accessible.

Toby said one of the “main” threats now is new pests and diseases.

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He said: “When I started, probably the same as you Monty, Dutch elm disease was the thing.

“We were all terrified of Dutch elm disease. But it was the only one.

“Now the oaks are threatened with acute oak decline, sudden oak death, and then, in pest terms, oak processionary moths.

“The list is growing, and there’s a whole range of pests and diseases that aren’t necessarily here yet that we don’t want.”

One of the main things people can do to prevent this happening is not bringing in any plant material on your travels.

“Don’t be tempted,” the tree expert said.

Cuttings, seeds or even an “olive” from abroad could have an impact on species native to the UK.

Gardeners’ World is available to stream on BBC iPlayer

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