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It’s Gold at Chelsea for the ‘Beyond Our Borders’ garden

An innovative garden, called ‘Beyond Our Borders’, has been awarded a gold medal at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. Commissioned by the Animal and Plant Health Agency, the garden highlights one way that global plant pest and disease threats are being monitored by the UK Government.

The ‘Beyond Our Borders’ garden was designed by multiple Chelsea gold medal winner Sarah Eberle. The garden brings to life the network of ‘plant sentinels’ (including UK native plants) which live outside their natural ranges in botanic gardens around the world. These plants are being monitored for pests and diseases that could potentially attack our native species.

The garden is an eye-catching and innovative display featuring three climatic zones (Australasia, Arid and Tropical) divided by water features representing oceans.
Each zone contains a British tree ‘sentinel’ standing among plants native to each area. Coiled springs and pulsing lights represent pests and diseases and their movement both within countries and across borders due to the increased trade in plants and plant material, global travel and natural spread.

Paul Beales, Head of Plant Health Public Engagement at the Animal and Plant health Agency (APHA), said:
“I am very grateful to Sarah Eberle for taking our ideas and transforming them into such a striking display that has made such an impact.

“The garden highlights the work of the Defra-funded International Plant Sentinel Network that facilitates collaboration of botanic gardens and arboreta around the world in order to provide an early warning system of new and emerging plant pest and disease risk. The garden represents the need for us to work together and share information and knowledge on an international scale.

“We are also helping people to understand how plant pests and diseases can spread around the world, largely due to international trade and travel, and how they can help us to tackle this."

“A healthy environment benefits us all. It is good for our health and wellbeing and is important to our economy and our wildlife. By looking after it now we can enjoy it today and protect it for future generations.”

Garden designer Sarah Eberle commented:
“It’s fantastic to have achieved a gold medal with this fresh garden. The Chelsea Flower Show offers an innovative and creative way to inform the public about how, by working together, we can protect our environment."

“The coiled springs and pulsing lights in the garden have provided a novel talking point. I used these to illustrate the how plant pests and diseases, which are elusive and mobile, can be transferred across international borders.”

In the last few years, a number of new pests and diseases have emerged as significant threats to trees and other plant species in the UK, including Ash dieback (Chalara fraxinea), Ramorum dieback (Phytophthora ramorum), Oak Processionary Moth (Thaumetopoea processionea) and Asian longhorn beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis).

These pests and diseases are often not considered a threat in their native regions because the host plants and trees have evolved resistance to them and/or because natural predators keep numbers down. However, because our native trees growing in the UK may not have developed natural resistance to these threats, and there are fewer or no natural predators, they are more likely to be severely affected. Monitoring plant ‘sentinels’ abroad will help to establish which pests and diseases post the biggest threat to our native species, and this information will be used to inform plans for prevention, eradication and control.

Some tips on how to help prevent the spread of plant pests and disease ‘Beyond Our Borders’:
  • Become familiar with quarantine pest and disease threats, their hosts and symptoms and report signs of them by using the Forestry Commission Tree Alert reporting tool
  • Buy UK-produced seeds and plants where possible
  • Be aware of the rules about which plants/plant products must not be brought into the UK from abroad
Sponsors of the “Beyond Our Borders” garden include Defra, Botanic Gardens Conservation International, the Scottish Government and the Horticultural Trades Association.

For more information on the garden visit:

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