Deep concern

Gardens across the UK are under threat from two new plant diseases according to the National Trust..

Unless action is taken against the two strains of phytophthora, or sudden oak death, it could be in every garden within 20 years and have a severe impact on native plants and species in woodlands and heathland.

The National Trust and the National Trust for Scotland have written to environment ministers in London and Edinburgh to urge action on the diseases.

In a “deeply worrying development”, one strain (Phytophthora kernoviae) has been found on bilberry on the Isle of Arran and in Cornwall.

The discovery raises fears for the future of the UK’s internationally important heathland habitats and for rare species including black grouse and capercaillie that the bilberry supports.

Both the strains of phytophthora – kernoviae and ramorum – are fungal-like diseases which cause the death or decline of woody plant species such as magnolia, camellia, kalmia and viburnum and most commonly rhododendron.

They first emerged in the UK earlier this decade.

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