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Instant Garden Syndrome May Be Spreading Ash Dieback Disease

As gardeners tend to their winter maintenance chores, there’s a controversy brewing in the landscaping community. As they go through the process of installing garden fencing, clearing debris from walkways and protecting chairs and tables with garden furniture covers, the issue surrounding what has been called “Instant Garden Syndrome” is mounting.

The controversy lies in its connection to the spread of plant diseases such as Chalara fraxinea, a fungus that causes ash dieback disease. To the dismay of many gardeners, this particular fungus has wreaked havoc on the ash population across continental Europe, starving the trees of water and killing them at an alarming rate. Now, Chalara fraxinea is spreading across the UK, putting Britain’s 80 million ash trees at risk. The blame for the rapid spread of this disease has been directed at the practice of importing fully grown plants to satisfy the growing demand for “Instant Gardens”, like those featured on television home makeover shows and specified by landscape designers in almost all commercial construction projects.

A spokesperson for Altons Online Garden Centre said: “An ‘Instant Garden’ can easily be created by purchasing large, rootballed plants to populate your garden. “This approach can give you the garden area of your dreams with virtually no waiting for young plants to grow and establish themselves, but clearly it can come at a cost.”

Altons Online Garden Centre, which has been in business for more than 40 years and is the largest garden centre in Essex, offers these four tips to gardeners who would like to establish their garden oasis as quickly as possible – while avoiding the spread of plant diseases.

1. When purchasing seedlings or large ash trees from a nursery, avoid those imported from Holland and Denmark, two countries with a high incidence of ash dieback disease. 2. Clean your footwear after visiting parks and other forests likely to be infected with the fungus. A simple wipe of your shoes may prevent you from inadvertently carrying the fungus into your home garden.
3. Take your garden inspiration from the natural species of your area. 4. Start small with seeds or locally grown seedlings. The satisfaction of growing a garden from seed is tremendous.

The spokesperson added: “Before you set your sights on an ‘Instant Garden’ right out of the Chelsea Flower Show, remember that faster is not always better. Start small and use local plant species to avoid spreading ash dieback and other plant diseases.”
The huge range of different outdoor and garden products at Altons Online Garden Centre is available to buy online – visit

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