I was horrified last weekend to discover how rife Aquilegia Downy Mildew (ADM)
is in South East England when I visited last weekend: all 4 gardens that I
visited had obviously systemically infected plants, yet only one gardener knew
it was there. These gardens included (arguably) the two most influential
gardens in Britain: Kew and RHS Wisley.
Additionally, diseased plants are being sold to gardeners as nurserymen are
unaware of early subtle signs. This sale of diseased nursery stock is a huge
issue and could be the prime way this is distributed around the country. I am
initiating a step-up in the campaign to inform gardeners and nurserymen, both
here and overseas.
1) How can I tell if my aquilegias are infected? What can I do if they are?
2) How do I know if the plant that I buy is free of this disease? What should I
do if I see infected stock in nurseries or garden centres (or in gardens open
to the public)?
For full information see my 12 webpages starting with:
This is an extremely virulent disease. Plant pathologists have no idea how this
arose, and like many new diseases (think AIDS and ebola) it is unstoppable
unless diverse and effective resources are directed at them. My national
collections are no more, having been reduced down to 10% in 1 year despite
doing all I could to curtail it. I am not alone in the decimation, as reading
case histories on
This is something that should be treated more like a virus that a fungus....
and infected stock destroyed. How do we keep it within the bounds of the UK?
RHS Wisley plant pathologist Geoff Denton and team are working at the
scientific level, and also with a research station in Germany (where they are
very keen that ADM is kept confined to the UK). But we need to mobilise at a
gardening level here in the UK. Help. Please.
I strongly believe that in about 12 years time there will be huge swathes of
land that cannot grow aquilegias, primarily in the South East of England where
the effect is likely to occur much earlier. How long will it take before (like
busy lizzies) we cannot grow these at all? And, unlike those Impatiens,
aquilegias are hardy perennials and can sporulate throughout a mild winter, as
well as the rest of the year. Does it matter that gardeners cannnot grow this
plant? Many think so. But perhaps equally importantly, Aquilegia vulgaris is a
British native, and our wild plants will also be killed. We need to protect UK
Carrie Thomas, 4 Clyne Valley Cottages, Killay, Swansea, SA2 7DU UK 01792 522443
S Wales, UK, wet zone 8-9
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