Tuesday 23 January 2018

The foreigners who are destroying the Wild Atlantic Way

Japanese Knotweed is a common sight
Japanese Knotweed is a common sight
Deirdre Conroy

Deirdre Conroy

It was a Dutch explorer, Philipp von Siebold, who first introduced the problem that would cost Europe hundreds of millions of euro. He returned to the Netherlands with his samples from the slopes of a Japanese volcano in 1847 and then posted a cutting to Kew Gardens in 1850. The rest is geography.

Gertrude Jekyll helped bring the foreigner to Ireland. She collaborated with Edwin Lutyens and designed the gardens at Lambay Island for Lord Revelstoke (founder of Baring's Bank). In a 1900 edition of 'Home and Garden' she extolled the plant's utility: "We ought not forget the quick growing ways of the great Japan knotweeds growing fast and tall".

This week, Kerry County Councillor Michael Gleeson described the weed as an unmanageable monster that is the country's biggest environmental threat. Citizens are spreading the problem by hedge-cutting and disposing of the weed in local dumps. You could be prosecuted if you do this, as fragments can continue to propagate.

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