10 May 2024

National Plant Health Week 6 to 12 May 2024

Matt Smith

Plant health is of paramount importance to us here at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. Matt Smith senior horticulturalist who’s responsible for the Broadwalk, explains more in this interesting blog.

The health of our living collections is paramount.  This is influenced by a complex range of factors.  A significant part of this is biosecurity and one caveat to this is the idea that prevention is better than the cure.  Protecting our living collection involves good monitoring of potentially threatening biological organisms on site. 

We are part of technical networks that use our site to monitor potential threats to biosecurity.  Internationally, we are part of the Botanic Gardens Conservation International’s BGCI) Plant Sentinel Network.  More locally we are part of the Welsh Plant Health Surveillance Network, which records the presence and/or abundance of insects and fungal spores.  You can find their 2023 report here: WPHSN : 2023 Summary Report (forestresearch.gov.uk).  These early warning systems are vital to ensure potential problems can and are feasible to be nipped in the bud.  

The Botanic Garden also operates a cordon sanitaire around the site involving the use of a quarantine facility.  All plant material destined for the living collection begins a systematic journey via the facility as soon as it enters the cordon.  Plant materials are quarantined for specific time periods relative to their risk in individual quarantine areas, and are monitored for potential pests and pathogens during this period.  Evidence of pest and disease can then be diagnosed and control measures implemented.  At one extreme, one control measure could be the incineration of material on site.  

Strong biosecurity is vital to protect living collections and wider nature for our future generations.

Plant Reception Facility at the Botanic Garden