The provenance of a plant takes on importance for a number of reasons. It’s a hot topic right now because ‘Plant Health’ is rightly recognised as an issue that concerns gardeners, and ‘provenance’ has relevance in the world of plant health. It is certainly not true to say that all plants grown in the UK are of exceptional plant health, nor that those grown abroad are of inferior plant health: good and bad growers can be found across the globe. However, certain pests and diseases absent here in the UK can be found outside of these Isles and, where possible, it is prudent to minimise the movement of plants and so minimise the risk of bringing pest and disease into the UK. Where good quality ‘Home Grown’ plants are available they provide the most ‘Biosecure’ option.
However, the UK has become greatly dependent on imported plants, in particular on plants grown in Europe.
We are proud to declare ourselves not just vendors of plants: we also grow plants. But few things in life are simple and the production path a plant takes can be complex. There are no clear-cut definitions of what makes a plant ‘British Grown’, and so we have decided to set out our own definitions to help those of our customers who have a healthy interest in these things:
Home Grown Stock
We grow some of our plants from cuttings taken from mother stock on our own nursery. These plants spend their whole production life on site. Other plants will be grown from seed, but that seed itself is bought from seed suppliers and we have little knowledge of its origin. We take in other lines as ‘young plants’ from specialist growers both here and abroad, then grow them on to a saleable size. In all these cases the plants we produce are under our supervision for a considerable period of time and we can ensure their good health. We have chosen to designate this group of plants as ‘Home Grown Stock’ and you can be sure that their ‘Plant Miles’ will be minimal.
British Grown Stock
Some of the plants we produce will not be ‘Grown’ on our nurseries at all, rather they are produced for us by specialists here in the UK. While we cannot guarantee the health of such plants with the same precision as would be possible if they were grown on our own nurseries, we only partner with nurseries when we have full confidence in their standards and, of course, there can be no danger that these nurseries harbour pest and disease that have not yet reached these shores. These plants we designate as ‘British Grown Stock’ and the ‘Plant Miles’ associated with these plants will be low.
A small range of the plants we make available for sale will be imported as finished stock from specialist production nurseries in Europe. We take care to ensure that the plants obtained from Europe are not potential hosts for those pest and diseases that are present in Europe but not here in the UK. Again, we take pains to ensure that the nurseries we buy from have high standards of plant health management. These plants we designate as ‘European Stock’ and the plant miles associated with them will be higher.
Some plants are simply not available from European production and must be purchased from further afield. This is not commonly the case, but it does occur. Very rarely, we will offer for sale plants grown beyond the borders of Europe. When this is the case, you can be assured that regulations ensure that professional operators take precautions to mitigate any risk to plant health. You can also be assured that we will understand those regulations and will abide by them. However, such plants have clearly travelled a great distance, and the ‘Plant Miles’ associated with them will be ‘Very High’. We designate these plants as ‘Global Production’.