iNews reports once a staple of a 1970s garden, the pampas grass has burst back into fashion as a favourite of the Instagram generation. The plant’s dried fronds have made a comeback as the ultimate interiors accessory, with fans even resorting to stealing it from coastal beaches to get their style fix. But although pampas grass might be a trendy alternative to a vase of fresh flowers, it is no substitute for native grasses on UK coastal dunes, experts warned this week.
The Daily Telegraph and iNEWS report one metre of dense hedge will mop up the same amount of pollution that a car emits over a 500-mile drive. Plant scientists at the Royal Horticultural Society have advised growers choose bushy, hairy-leafed alternatives, as these have been found to remove more air pollution.
Researchers tested three hedges for pollution removal in traffic hostpots; Cotoneaster franchetii, Thuya plicata (Western red cedar) and Crataegus monogyna (hawthorn). They found that the cotoneaster franchetti was by far the most effective at cleaning the air, and that in just seven days a one metre length of well-managed dense hedge will mop up the same amount of pollution that a car emits over a 500 mile drive.
The Times reports one of the rarest plants on a Scottish mountain celebrated for its botanical riches could become extinct in the wild. Experts are now planning a rescue mission for the mountain sandwort, which has delicate white flowers, after a big decline in numbers.
The most recent count of the plant on Ben Lawers, Scotland’s tenth highest Munro reveals a fall of more than half in just 15 years. Botanists will gather seeds on the Perthshire mountain this summer to grow in a safe place and ensure the plant’s survival.
The Telegraph reports summer is officially over, the Royal Horticultural Society has said, as autumn colours are being seen in their gardens and apples are ripe two weeks early. Many have noticed amber-hued leaves falling from the trees in the last weeks of summer, and the temperature has dropped from the giddy heights of the heatwave.
The early spring heat gave many types of fruit, including greengages and apples, a head start to the growing season, meaning that harvests have come early. Trees and shrubs are turning their leaves as they have been confused and stressed by the recent erratic weather, causing them to prepare for autumn earlier.
Photo by Jack Cousins under creative commons.
The Times reports the climbing plant has received the endorsement of the Royal Horticultural Society as the best to provide an architectural vest that keeps buildings cool in summer and warm in winter.
An experiment conducted by the society with the University of Reading suggested home owners should not be concerned about ivy harbouring damp, as the plant reduced relative humidity on warm winter days by 5.7 per cent.
Photo of ivy covered house by Karen under creative commons.
Sky News reports pigmyweed was first sold in the UK as an ornamental plant for domestic ponds but it was banned after damaging rivers and lakes. The New Zealand pigmyweed has already wiped out several native plant species in the Lake District and there are fears that the area’s most pristine lakes are next.
The Telegraph and The Express report staycationers taking a holiday in the Lake District have been warned they could be spreading a killer weed from New Zealand, which is at risk of smothering the aquatic life in the famous lakes. Pigmyweed, once sold as a decorative plant for home ponds, is already responsible for several native plant species being wiped out in the Lake District, and there are fears that the area’s most beautiful lakes could be infested next… if people travel from an infested lake to a pristine one without taking care to wash any plant debris off their clothes, dogs, boats and bodies, they risk spreading the killer weed.
The Guardian reports pavement chalking to draw attention to wild flowers and plants in urban areas has gone viral across Europe – but UK chalkers could face legal action
A rising international force of rebel botanists armed with chalk has taken up street graffiti to highlight the names and importance of the diverse but downtrodden flora growing in the cracks of paths and walls in towns and cities across Europe.
The idea of naming wild plants wherever they go – which began in France – has gone viral, with people chalking and sharing their images on social media. More than 127,000 people have liked a photo of chalked-up tree names in a London suburb, while a video of botanist Boris Presseq of Toulouse Museum of Natural History chalking up names to highlight street flowers in the French city has had 7m views.
Photo by Erich Ferdinand under creative commons.
BBC NEWS reports the elm tree can return to the British countryside, given a helping hand, according to a new report. More than 20 million trees died during the 1960s and 1970s from Dutch elm disease. In the aftermath, the elm was largely forgotten, except among a handful of enthusiasts who have been breeding elite elms that can withstand attack. The research is showing promise and there is reason to be hopeful, said the Future Trees Trust charity.
Report author, Karen Russell, said mature specimens have been identified that are hundreds of years old, and have mysteriously escaped the epidemic. And a new generation of elm seedlings are being bred, which appear to be resistant to the disease.
The BBC reports a project to save a “super-rare” orchid from extinction has seen numbers rise from 200 to 4,000 in eight years. Concern for the future of the fen orchid prompted action among the sand dunes at Kenfig National Nature Reserve, Bridgend, in 2011.
Wardens can no longer count them in one day as there are so many, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service. The success has been attributed to the work of wardens and volunteers managing the 1,300-acre (530-hectare) reserve.
The Telegraph report a rare and beautiful wildflower is being reintroduced to the countryside by Kew Gardens and the plant charity Plantlife after it was mistaken for a weed and killed off by farmers and gardeners.
The red hemp-nettle was once common in southern England and South Wales but the use of herbicides, fertilisers and the spread of highly productive crop varieties have led to it almost vanishing from fields.