If they're being honest, most gardeners will admit to having pinched cuttings from a plant somewhere, at some stage in their lives. There is a legendary story about a lady visitor to a botanic garden who was stopped on her way out and asked to open her umbrella. When she did, hundreds of little bits of plants fell out and the lady in question left with a very strict reprimand.
One or two cuttings here and there do little harm to the plant, although it’s always better to ask permission first. The really big danger now we all travel more is the little cutting that comes back in a suitcase. We know from the many questions we’ve had over that years that it is very common indeed to bring back plants like Agapanthus from Madeira, olives from Italy and cuttings of Bougainvillea from around the Mediterranean. Some of these are varieties that need warm climates to grow well and won’t survive in the UK climate anyway, so bringing them home is a waste of time and you would be much better served by taking a good photo to enlarge and hang on the wall.
There are a whole host of plant pests and diseases that can travel back with you and you would never know they were there. Some of our worst problems have come in unseen as spores and eggs. Others come into the country in ways you would never imagine, such as in the newspaper packaging inside containers and even inside the crate itself. Imported wooden furniture can harbour destructive beetle larvae. We all need to be vigilant about this matter and it can be as simple as asking for the certificate of provenance to show your new furniture has come from a reputable source.
If the new monster on the horizon, Xylella, gets into a UK nursery, then that nursery has to destroy all host plants within 100m of the infected plant and there is a 10km ban on host plant movements immediately, lasting for five years. This will affect any other nurseries within the 10km radius and has the potential to put smaller nurseries out of business. This is an EU ruling and may change as more is learned about the infection, but it is a serious threat to many garden favourites like lavender, oleander, rosemary, myrtle, olives, grape, peach, Hebe and fig as well as trees like oak and plane.
So, as you plan your holiday abroad this summer, remember the Countryside Code and Take nothing but memories (and photographs) and leave nothing but footprints.
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