2017 Diagnostics Day

A second one day course on the practical diagnostics of plant pathogens was held on 3rd May 2017 at the RHS Garden Harlow Carr near Harrogate. This is the second such course run under the auspices of the BSPP in its role as a promoter of practical knowledge of plant pathology.

Seventeen participants from universities, research institutes and botanic gardens attended. The course followed a similar format to the first course run at RHS Wisley last year. The morning was devoted to a review of possible symptoms and how these can give clues to the kind of organisms that may be responsible for the condition observed. This was followed by hands-on experience with plants and their pathogens and with simple diagnostic tools.

In the afternoon, Andrew Willocks, from the curatorial team at RHS Harlow Carr, led a garden walk and showed how plant health concerns have led to changes in previously large areas of dense rhododendrons. These areas have been opened out to allow air-flow between plants in order to reduce powdery mildew and to lessen the risk of a Phytophthora ramorum outbreak resulting in rapid spread of disease and subsequent loss of large numbers of plants. The extra space and light has allowed the planting of a wide range of shade loving plants as an under-story to add interest for garden visitors. The space will also allow easier monitoring of plant health in these areas.

The day finished with an opportunity to diagnose a series of unhealthy plant specimens and a talk on the biology of Phytophthora.

It is intended that similar courses will continue in the future, alternating between sites in the north and the south of the UK. These will be advertised on the BSPP website and in BSPP News.