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The not so cute grey squirrel are threatening native red populations

FROM 20 May to 26 May 2924, will be the UK's invasive species week. The most frequently seen member of this club is the grey squirrel, introduced to this country in the mid-1800s as a novelty species.

Today there are an estimated 3 million+ and their main victim is our native red squirrel that has lived here since the last Ice Age. Due largely to the grey, the red population has plummeted to less than 300,000, 75% of which are in Scotland.

The Red Squirrel Survival Trust has put together a list of some of the other less cute facts about this American invader.

Each year greys generate £37 million of damage to trees in forests, wood, parks and gardens across Britain, most of the damaged trees die. This puts at risk, tree planting plans, to help make Britain Carbon Neutral by 2050.

Many greys carry a pox, harmless to them, but inevitably fatal to red squirrels.

Tree damage is changing the treescape of Britain as commercial growers phase out traditional oak, beech and ash, the chief target of the greys, in favour of non-native species.

A major British insurance company recently reported the high cost of domestic insurance claims caused by grey squirrels chewing through water pipes, electrical cables, decking and fascia boards.

Greys cause extensive damage to telephone and telecommunications cables.

Being omnivores greys raid bird nests, eating eggs and chicks.

"Far from being the cute animals we see scuttling around out gardens, grey squirrels are a costly menace,"
says Vanessa Fawcett, operations director of the RSST.

You can help support red squirrel conservation by reporting red and grey squirrels you see in key areas of the UK. at:- ReclaimingReds.Co.UK.

Rugby player Doddie Weir's MND campaign celebrated at RHS Flower Show Tatton Park 2024

​A garden dedicated to Doddie Weir and his charity for research into Motor Neurone Disease will be showcased at the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park 2024 this summer as the show celebrates its 25th Anniversary.

Designed by Pip Probert, My Name'5 Doddie will incorporate the colours of the player's own private tartan, sculptures representing players in a line out, rugby goal posts and a water feature based on the tartan flower brooch used by the charity.

Weir was 1 of rugby's most recognisable personalities. The Scot revealed in June 2017 he was suffering from MND and launched the My Name'5 Doddie Foundation in November of that year with a vision of ridding the world of the disease. The garden's scheme will represent the number 5; his position in the sport.

Other gardens include:- The 1804 Garden by Carolyn Hardern and Jon Jarvis, the design duo behind last year's Best Show Garden. Hardern and Jarvis continue their campaign to support construction workers, this time focusing on how a garden can be designed to mitigate against the risks of melanoma caused by excessive sun exposure.

Skills of local artisans and crafts people are celebrated in The Grant Horticulture Arts and Crafts Garden by Callum Bain MacKay. Inspired by the arts and crafts movement, billowing grasses, multi-stemmed trees and soft pastel toned perennials are interspersed with a hand-milled and hand-constructed timber pavilion, and hand-crafted wooden patio furniture and creasing tile sculptures, with materials sourced locally to emphasise sustainability.

The final Show Garden comes from Ollie Pike, with This Garden Isn't Finished Without You, sponsored by the Methodist Church, showcasing the church's commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.

In the Terrace Gardens, Tom Saunders will bring a touch of the Andes to a Peak District setting with The Orchid Garden, after the designer's travels to South America where he saw the flowers growing in their natural ecosystem and realised that native orchids can be grown domestically and set within dry stone walls.

Sophie Godber's Big Picture Garden highlights conscious consumerism, embracing a repurposed appearance with objects and materials sourced from a 19th century farmstead to demonstrate how building a new garden doesn't need to cost the earth, while Hilary Newhall's The Secret Garden: For Us, By Us raises awareness of autistic adults and the challenges they encounter, particularly in employment and being a business owner.

This year will also see the return of the Long Borders. Women's rights and the colours of the Women's Suffrage Movement are highlighted in Susan Booth's garden, Barbie says:- "Women can be anything they want." (On the shoulders of giants), complete with glitter ball. Other themes touched upon include the Cheshire rail network, LGBTQ+ rights, the Manchester skyline and an edible family garden.

​This year, the show has also introduced a new competition, RHS Career Changers of the Year, reflecting the increasing number of people who are choosing to enter horticulture and garden design. The show will also host the coveted RHS Young Designer of the Year competition, launching the careers of many a top name talent. Further details of entrants for these categories will be announced in due course.

​The next time that RHS Flower Show Tatton Park will be on the site will be in 2027, as part of a roster of changes to the shows schedule announced by the RHS earlier this year.

​Sarah Poll, RHS Head of Shows Development, said:- "What a fantastic line up for the 25th anniversary of the wonderful RHS Flower Show Tatton Park. From gardens addressing illnesses such as MND to sustainability, arts and crafts, orchids and even Barbie; we're delighted to showcase the best of cutting-edge design and thought provoking gardens. We've also got a superb range of food and drinks, live entertainment and shopping opportunities so everyone, young or old, families or individuals can come and enjoy a great day out."

​RHS Flower Show Tatton Park takes place from:- 17 July to 21 July 2024. Tickets can be bought online on:- RHS.Org.UK.

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