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Candide Cuttings: Top Pests, Garden Bridge and Trees for the Elderly

Published on 11th March 2019

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Top Pests of the Year

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has revealed its annual pest and disease rankings for 2018. It highlights above average temperatures as a contributing factor to new pests emerging and old ones persisting.

The top pest was the box tree caterpillar for the third time, as it spread to Northern Ireland and Wales. Honey fungus remained top of the disease ranking, as it has done since 1995. However, this year trees suffering from drought stress were more likely to catch the disease.

The early summer and warm weather helped the southern green shield bug, a sap feeder that has a preference for beans, enter the rankings for the first time. It also aided pear rust, a fungus that infects Juniper.

However, pests that prefer a wet, warmer environment, such as box blight and leaf spot were hindered by the drier climate.

Principal Scientist at the RHS, Matthew Cromey, said: ‘Our pest and disease ranking may be evidence of how climate change is impacting on what we find in our gardens. With the UK predicted to see wetter winters, warmer summers and more extreme weather events, root diseases of trees and shrubs could become even more problematic, and the array of pests is likely to change.’

MPs to Debate Garden Bridge

MPs are set to debate the failed Garden Bridge in parliament this week, which has lost an estimated £43 million of public money.

The bridge over the Thames began construction in 2016. Plans included a large green area and the planting of 270 immature trees.

The project was scrapped in 2017 after planning proposals were rejected, and insufficient funds were raised. Planning permissions were subject to Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, giving a guarantee for future running costs, which he did not.

At the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport question time last week, MP Rupa Huq said: ‘The Charity Commission says it will do no further investigation, so will the Government instigate an independent inquiry so that lessons are learned and no project like this ever has the same fate?’

MPs are set to debate the issue on Friday.

Trees Make Elderly People Happier

A new study has linked greater tree cover to a reduction in depressive symptoms experienced by elderly residents living in U.S. nursing homes.

The research was published in the journal Urban Forestry & Urban Greening by researchers from the University of Illinois. They examined the relationship between the number of residents in 9,186 nursing homes suffering from depressive symptoms and tree canopy cover.

They found that the greater the tree cover in the nursing home, the less likely the residents were to show depressive symptoms.

Researchers accounted for other factors such as staffing ratio, for-profit status and occupancy rates.

The relationship between green space cover and depressive symptoms did not vary by socioeconomic status or race.

The research provides a basis for further studies to investigate whether nursing homes should incorporate greening and nature-based therapy programs to improve residents’ mental wellbeing.

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