The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is known for many things but showcasing invasive plant species is perhaps not one of them. The new “Enemy Within” Garden will be unveiled at this years show to highlight the issues around this problem. Plants may not seem very threatening when you are thinking about buying a home but they can cause a lot of problems in terms of the property itself, the garden and they can prove very costly.
What is an Invasive Species?
The standard definition of an invasive species is “a plant, fungus or animal that is not native to a specific location and that has a tendency to spread to a degree believed to cause damage to the environment, human economy or human health.”
There are a number of invasive plant species int he UK and the garden will highlight 14 of them. The most well known is Japanese knotweed which is left unchecked can cause serious problems in and around a property. Some people have even lost mortgages because of it. The idea that a seemingly benign plant can “escape” and start growing in the wild may not seem that threatening but over time and in the right conditions this species can not only grow in huge numbers but can do so at the expense of native flora and fauna which then has more knock on effects to the ecosystem, property and the economy.
The Demand for New Plants
We have over 10,000 species of plant that gardeners in the UK can buy and grow but despite this there is still a very high demand for new and novel species. Garden Centres are regularly bringing in new species to feed the demand by gardeners for more exciting plants. But there is also another side to this. When an inexperienced gardener, perhaps having just bought a new home, goes to the garden centre to look at plants they will choose what they think looks nice. It is no fault of their own they happen to chose what could become the next big invasive species. The shops should take responsibility for the stock they sell in the long term as well as the short.
Evidence suggests that invasive species can tale decades to become a problem so the plants growing around the country now could already be about to become a problem in the next 10 years. It is scary to think that there is also another generation potentially being planted right now that could be 30 years away from being a problem. An example of this is the giant rhubarb. It was first seen outside of dedicated gardens in 1908 but it took until around 2000 for it to become a problem. Japanese knotweed took from 1886 until 1940 before it took hold and continued to grow as a problem ever since.
While this garden will no doubt form an interesting part of the show it is doing a great job at highlighting the issue to home owners across the country. It is important to remember that buying a property often includes buying a garden but it is so often forgotten about.
If you have any questions about a property purchase and potentially problematic plants in and around it then get in touch today to discuss how a survey can help or if any specific horticultural advice may be needed in addition to a survey.