Sunday, December 1, 2013

Updates - EU legislation and Oudolf meadow

Two updates: one on the EU proposed legislation on plant cultivars, and the other on the perennial meadow at Hummelo.
Miscanthus 'Yaku-jima', in our garden last week, a good small miscanthus, but still growing a lot bigger than it does with many - that high level of phosphorus in the soil i suppose!

First, I've had detailed responses from two UK Members of the European Parliament, who are very well aware of this issue, and trying to change it. Thank you to Julie Girling and Anthea McIntyre.

I have also been in correspondence with Dutch nurseryman Coen Jansen who writes: Since the article in "The Garden" and yours in the newspaper, things are changing here too: after your article I received a mail from a rather worried Belgian nurserywoman, who had read your article, and she also asked her MP what is going on really. He answered that a lot of MP's are working on it, asking mainly for exceptions for small nurseries with a turnover under € 2 million a year, and/or for nurseries  employing less than 10 people.
Last week our horticultural magazine "De Boomkwekerij" -for the trade, not for the general gardening public- also picked it up... at last there seems to be something happening, one MEP i wrote to said she had had 200+ emails on the subject. We can hope for some common sense.”

Secondly, Piet Oudolf's meadow - the mystery deepens. Piet and Anja are back from their trip to visit their son and family in Ecuador, and Piet has corrected me on the soil below the wonderful perennial planting featured in my last posting. It is actually soil, NOT sand, some soil was actually imported to make up the ground here, although it looks very sandy and has a high sand content.

I have been comparing annual weather statistics between Arnhem and Hereford too, not much difference: Arnhem region has a more continental climate (i.e. warmer summer and colder winter) but there is not much in it, and they have quite a lot less rain, maybe 50% less, but still around 1000mm a year. The more continental the climate, the more that forbs (flowering perennials) are competitive vis a vis grasses.

The answer may still lie in the soil. This article here by Ken Thompson points out the importance of phosphorus in determining wildflower diversity. I know we have a very high level of this plant nutrient, as indeed do many soils in Britain. Next time I go to Hummelo, a soil testing kit goes with me.


Roger Brook - No Dig Gardener said...

Thanks for explaining forbs, did not like to ask as I felt so ignorant.
Interesting about phosphate, gardeners have been adding excessive amounts for years
Interested to learn that grasses do not retain many nutrients in their roots. I would be surprised if those that go dormant do not store much nutrient?
I wonder if lower available phosphate is part explanation for the wild flowers on chalk and at the other extreme, acid soils, phosphate availability lowers above PH 7.5 and below 6
As a completely irrelevant fact, high phosphate can be toxic to some plants from the Australian continent where the natural rock is low in phosphate

Panayoti Kelaidis said...

Thanks for keeping us apprised of the legislative mischief in the EU: we have suffered enormously in America as the agri-business giants have "persuaded" our Congress and State legislatures to pass all manner of mischief that makes small business less competitive and helps them further corner markets. I hope Europe can resist the blandishments of the meritocracy better than the USA, which has effectively become an oligarchy orchestrated by the famous 1% (including, of course Cargill, Monsanto and the like)...

Graham Spencer said...

Thanks for your campaigning on the PRM regulation, Noel. I have spoken with key MEPs this week and we know that pretty much all the amendments that the stakeholder group has been working on with DEFRA are being tabled - if they all go through, we'll have a regulation that can work. We still need people to write to their MEPs and to talk with colleagues and friends in other EU member states.

Your readers can find out more here: