Chelsea Discoveries1st June 2014 • General • Stephanie Donaldson
The Discovery Zone at Chelsea has really upped its game with stands that intrigue and inform. Shallow person that I am, I was attracted by the zinc planters on the Rothamsted Research Centre stand (I wasn’t alone, apparently several people had asked) and in case you too are wondering – they were made by the team at Rothamsted. Turning my attention to more serious matters, I found that they are doing some very interesting work on how altering petal colours can deter insect pests and reduce the need for the use of pesticides. The research was demonstrated by rape plants that had been watered with dilute dye, but in the long term would obviously involve breeding new strains with different coloured flowers. When I asked about bees they told me that they quickly adapt to the new colour and carry on gathering pollen as before. Clever stuff.
Nearby, the Food & Environment Agency had put together a great looking stand featuring suitcases bursting with flowers to highlight the danger of unwittingly importing pests and diseases along with the plants we bring back from our foreign travels. Most of the major problems are as a result of commercial timber and plant imports from Asia, but nonetheless it’s worth checking that rosemary plant to make sure it is free of rosemary beetle before you transport it across the Channel.