Going abroad with the family over the summer holidays? Help stop the spread of plant disease and bacteria when you travel to and from foreign shores with the Royal Horticultural Society’s advice to travellers.

RHS has recently urged holidaymakers NOT to bring back flora or fauna from their travels, with celebrity A lister Dame Helen Mirren adding her voice to their campaign.

Dame Helen Mirren

Dame Helen Mirren has lent her support to the Royal Horticultural Society’s campaign to help halt the spread of deadly bacterium such as Xylella Fastidiosa. The multi-award-winning actress has witnessed first-hand the devasting impact of Xylella in Italy where it is thought more than 11 million olive trees have already fallen victim.

The disease prevents plants from transporting water and is known to infect more than 500 different plant species with garden favourites lavender, oleander, rosemary and flowering cherry all at risk in the UK.

If found in the UK, all host plants within 100m would be destroyed and there would be restrictions on movement of specified plants within a 5km radius for up to five years – striking a death knell for gardens and horticultural businesses.

Dame Helen Mirren says: “I have witnessed first-hand the destruction that Xylella causes in Puglia, Italy – devastating (almost overnight) countless centuries-old olive trees in the businesses and communities that have long relied on them. Preventing Xylella’s spread is a priority and something that UK holidaymakers can support by simply avoiding bringing plants back from abroad that may be harbouring the bacterium.”

She adds: “Our gardens and green spaces are vital for people and the planet. A failure to act could mean the landscapes that define us could be irreversibly changed.”

Gerard Clover, Head of Plant Health at the RHS, comments: “While importing plants in personal baggage is already subject to some restrictions, we are calling on holidaymakers NOT to bring plants back from abroad and instead purchase them in the UK. Several pests and diseases are already thought to have made their way into our gardens through private importations, such as fuchsia gall mite, and we simply cannot afford for Xylella to follow.”

The initiative complements Defra’s ‘Don’t Risk It’ campaign, which continues this summer and raises awareness of the risks of bringing back plants, cut flowers, fruit and vegetables from holiday destinations.

Van Hage Garden Centre

If you have enjoyed seeing a certain plant or tree on your travels and want to enjoy it in your own garden, you should always buy directly from a UK garden centre. That way you can be sure that it has been sourced responsibly and gone through the necessary checks for pests and diseases.

Van Hage in PE1 has an array of plants, shrubs, flowers and garden goodies to ensure your outdoor space looks stunning all season long. Keep the UK’s flora and fauna staying beautiful by not bringing plants back from your holidays and buying from a reputable garden centre such as Van Hage.

For more advice about maintaining a healthy and happy garden, visit the RHS’s website.

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