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08 Sep 2023 < Back

Headlines catching our attention again

The Telegraph published an article recently, The Japanese Knotweed con exposed – and the plants to really beware which for those members who have read the article, you will understand our bewilderment and frustration at some of the content. If you haven’t read it yet, there are a couple of things which certainly caught our attention. 

I will say that aside from this, on balance, it’s ok. It’s pretty well researched and reiterates facts that the PCA and its members have spoken/written about many times. It gives credit to a mature industry and highlights steps that have been taken and policies introduced, not only by us but the sector as a whole, to continue the growth and change needed to progress. 

But, and there is a big but, so let me explain…

Panic and misinformation

Firstly, the headline was an issue from the outset. It was neither helpful nor accurate. It did very little in the way to reflect what the article went on to say and used the word ‘con’, which by its very definition means to ‘persuade (someone) to do or believe something by lying to them’. This gives the reader the impression that contractors have been ripping homeowners off. I honestly do not believe this was the intention when printing that headline. But it’s printed and out there now.

The other and more astonishing part within this article is the advice from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). Their guidance ‘to treat it yourself’ certainly downplays the complexity of herbicide use. And condoning a homeowner to pour glyphosate onto the soil is not only shocking, but illegal too. How can we expect homeowners to use herbicides correctly and accurately if this is the guidance from well-respected institutions such as the RHS? 

It was only a few weeks ago that we shared news of many local councils seemingly stepping back from using herbicides in amenity spaces and our CEO witnessing people in his own village literally taking matters into their own hands, when they have no idea what they’re doing. Surely this demonstrates why herbicide use can and should only be applied by competent, professional experts! 

We have reached out to Guy Barter, Chief Horticulturalist at the RHS who was quoted in the article, and welcome the opportunity for a discussion and to offer our guidance and support. It’s what we do and what we do best. We await a response…

Specialist expertise is the only way forward

The article did bring up some accurate facts - other emerging invasive plants homeowners need to consider such as Buddleia and Bamboo, which the PCA and its members have advocated for some time now. 

But when information is pushed out which creates panic or misinforms people, we must do all we can to right that wrong. The PCA strives to educate and inform, and to promote our specialist members and their expertise. This article is far from perfect and I am sure it won’t be the last to catch our attention…



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