This show has been cancelled for 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-19 read more

BBC garden cracked down on garden pests

The RHS teamed up with the BBC to offer help and advice on keeping gardens healthy at Chatsworth 2018

With almost 1,000 pests and diseases on the UK’s Plant Health Register, and growing public concern, we teamed up with BBC Gardeners’ Question Time (GQT) to design a garden at Chatsworth Flower Show that would equip the UK’s gardeners with the knowledge and expertise needed to plan and maintain a healthy garden. 

What was in the garden

Award-winning designer Stephen Hall worked with our plant health scientists and the GQT team to create the ‘RHS & GQT Bloomin’ Healthy Garden’. The garden was packed with inspiration and advice on plant health for visitors to take home and put into practice.

Stephen said: "I was delighted to be approached by the RHS to design this feature as it's becoming increasingly important that anyone with a garden is aware of the simple things they can do to keep their garden healthy and mitigate against the spread of harmful pests and diseases.

"I created a ‘typical’ English country garden that took visitors on a journey of discovery. The garden showcased new threats to plant health and featured take-home tips for clean working alongside some of the most common pests and diseases and how to deal with them.’ 

Pests & diseases up close

Visitors were taught how to safely manage common pests and what to look out for in their garden. Display boxes enabled visitors to get up close to some of the UK’s most common pests and affected plant specimens.

Informative films, interactive displays and engaging demonstrations highlighted pests and diseases such as the lily beetle, box tree caterpillar and agapanthus gall midge along with imminent threats, such as the high profile Xylella fastidiosa

Lily BeetleBox Tree CaterpillarAgapanthus Gall Midge

Keep it clean

A potting shed and plant quarantine area were included to highlight the importance of careful plant sourcing, inspection and continued monitoring for potential pests and diseases. A cleaning station and potting bench reminded gardeners that clean gardening tools, footwear and other equipment are important to prevent pests and diseases from being moved in soil and plant debris.  

Stephen says; "The importance of crop rotation and cultivar selection, for the reduction of pest and diseases, was explored in the productive area of the garden. Visitors picked up simple tips, like the use of insect-proof netting, to reduce problems such as carrot root fly, while a greenhouse prompted discussion of clean irrigation, and compost bins demonstrated the do’s and don’ts of safe composting."

The final section of the garden demonstrated best practice for pest and disease management, through a balanced and healthy ecosystem, resilient planting and features to encourage natural predators. 

We all have a role to play in plant health

GQT’s plant pathologist Pippa Greenwood says; "We were very excited to be working with the RHS at this year’s Chatsworth Flower Show and hope the garden will help reiterate the importance of plant health management no matter what size garden you have. We give out advice on plant health every week on GQT, and this was a great opportunity to foreground some of the most important conversations we need to all be having in this area.'

Listening posts, narrated by the GQT team, were present throughout the garden to compliment the design and inspire visitors with key messages and top tips to apply in their own gardens.

Gerard Clover, our head of plant health said: "With the ever-increasing risk from imported pests and diseases to UK horticulture, we could all do with a little help in understanding the role we can play in keeping our gardens healthy and pest and disease free. 

"This garden gave us a great platform to share our expertise, demonstrate and advise visitors on the different things they can do to maintain a healthy garden for many years to come."  

Top tips on protecting your garden from plant pests and diseases

RHS Membership

Members enjoy early booking and discounted tickets to RHS Shows.

Join the RHS

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.