Grey Squirrel or Meghan Markle

OK, I was going to name this thread Troublesome Plants as I'm thoroughly bored of the cats debate. This is probably something you've equally debated before but I'll explain my question for a thundery day.

We had to spend much of last year trying (I think in vain) to clear the local riverbank of Himalayan Balsam, which I believe was first imported in the 1830's as a greenhouse plant but is now an invasive pest. I believe it's also known as Policeman's Helmet for those following the Common Names thread. The last couple of years our canal bank has been overrun by what I think is Rhodedendron Purple Splendour, which although giving a couple of weeks delightful colour is otherwise crowding everything else out. However, it is still sold by lots of garden centres.

Last night on the Chelsea Flower show Monty introduced a piece as "what are the new plants we're all going to be off to buy this weekend" and they started showing Himalayan Poppies and other exotics.

So, back to my question - how do you know when an overseas import is going to become a generally unwelcome invasive species like the Grey Squirrel, or is going to just stand quietly in the corner not doing much but looking nice (i.e. Meghan)? It seems to me these things are always added to lists of invasive species after they've escaped from the gardening world into the wild and not before (that's the grey squirrels again, not Meghan). Do we take any precaution? Do we care?
“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill
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  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 23,660
    My guess, and hope , is that we've learned from mistakes and take account of growing conditions abroad before introducing things here.
    Am I being over-optimistic?
    Devon.
  • Joyce21Joyce21 Posts: 15,489
    The Beechgrove Garden this week gave a warning this week re skunk cabbage and it's spread to river banks.
    SW Scotland
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 23,660
    I think the RHS have already removed it from their gardens. I know it's gone from Rosemoor.
    Devon.
  • ButtercupdaysButtercupdays Posts: 2,658
    It's tricky as you sometimes have to wait quite a while for a plant to show its true colours, probably as it gradually adapts to its new home.
    I had Persicaria campanulata growing peacefully in a shady, dampish border for a number of years, It eventually became large enough to need splitting, which I did, and planted a piece in my damp, shady 'Dell'.
    It took off like a rocket, overwhelmed everything else, including nettles and docks, and looked beautiful when it flowered. I am currently 2 thirds of the way through removing every bit of it, as I am concerned about it escaping into the wild. Fortunately it is easy to deal with as it is only shallow rooted.
    Similar experience with Euphorbia 'Fireglow', which didn't seed itself for a long time, but does now, as well as having running roots.
  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 4,331
    The Royal Family seem to have procedures in place to deal with troublesome weeds :|
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 27,963
    Hostafan1 said:
    My guess, and hope , is that we've learned from mistakes and take account of growing conditions abroad before introducing things here.
    Am I being over-optimistic?
    yes   :smiley:

    oyc e- there's a shed load of it at Loichgoilhead. Noticed it when I went to do the Corbett there. I need to go back as I didn't make it that day, so it'll be interesting to see of it's spread...or not.  :smile:
    Stunning looking stuff when it's 'flowering' but not funny when it's choking everything to death....
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • FireFire LondonPosts: 5,882
    edited May 2018
    Rhoddies in the wild seem to do that everywhere. Teams of volunteers all over the country spend weeks / years trying to take it out. It's one reason I don't like them.

    Are there any recent, plant introductions that have proved a problem? It seems most of our problems were introduced in the 19th C or before, no?
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 27,963
    edited May 2018
    They're a very serious problem up here Fire. Our conditions are perfect for them [ponticum] and it costs vast amounts of time and money to try and keep the damn things at bay. 
    The era of 'the plant hunter' [when wealthy individuals sent folk to bring back new plants to show off to their friends] and the invention of Wardian case, meant it was easier to go to other countries and nick their stuff  ;)
    Victorian era  [in particular ] was when many plants were introduced
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • FireFire LondonPosts: 5,882
    edited May 2018
    Yes indeed. Do rhoddies spread by seed?

    I've seen a lot of people defend skunk cabbage. Given its so damaging, I can for the life of me see why people wouldn't give them up for the greater good. Some garden centres still sell it, I believe. Boggles my brain.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 27,963
    They do Fire, but also by rooting along the ground.
    Ponticum is horrific - they grow huge - up to around 7 or 8 metres - and just smother everything around them, and chuck seed for miles. Toxic as well - to all sorts of wildlife. They take up nutrients quicker than other vegetation, so it's easy for them to get the upper hand. Vile things.  :(
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


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