I usually fight shy of garden centres. They seem to me to be strange places, full of strange people, some of whom have green fingers.
But a meeting I had earlier this week made me curious to investigate. We talked about the use of herbicides and insecticides and other chemicals in gardens. If you were a farmer, admittedly using much larger quantities, you would need training and lots of safety equipment, but we are allowed to do lots of things in our gardens without such restraint.
Safe storage and disposal of these products is very important and I was pleased to see this stressed on the labels. Having said that, the labelling does vary a bit - and is best on the products of some of the big companies such as Bayer, Monsanto, Scott's and Syngenta.
And when I looked in my garden shed we had loads of bottles of half-used stuff (some of it probably dating from before we bought the house 12 years ago!) - and the old stuff (mostly herbicides but fungicides and some insecticides too!) wasn't anywhere nearly as clearly labelled.
But being a cynical so-and-so, I then thought that I would phone my local Council - as it says on the label - and ask where to take this stuff. It did help that I knew that East Northants is my local council but hats off to the lady who told me very quickly, clearly and politely that I should take my unwanted pesticides to the municipal dump at Rushden (near Waitrose). When I asked her whether she was often asked about this she said not very often - more calls on paint and light bulbs!
So there seems to be little excuse for any of us. The products are clearly labelled and the local councils are (on a smaple size of one) clued-up and helpful! Please dispose of your garden chemicals properly.
My abiding thought from the garden centre was that although small in area, the bit of the store devoted to scaring (moles, cats, dogs, birds), catching (rabbits, mice, rats) and killing (rats, mice, moths, flies, scale insects, mosquitos, slugs, snails, caterpillars, aphids, mites etc etc) showed how keen are some gardeners to rid their patches of wildlife!
I was in one of those strange places yesterday. I had black fingers rather than green (I'd been rooting about in the soil) and I was there to choose some plants to encourage more bees into our garden. We chose Rosemary and Thyme (isn't that a song?), some Tagetes too. We love the beasties in our garden and are always whipping out a book to identify new ones. (Now I'm wondering if I should have sent this to Adrian Thomas rather than you). Oh well.......
Well I am all for wildlife but not much in that list at the bottom that I would welcome in the garden,in fact if I looked round our shelves there is probably all those and a few you missed such as ants,wasps,greenfly,blackfly,lily beetle but still on the fringe keep some nettles and other thing for the Blue Tits etc and consider it wildlife friendly for most birds and Frogs etc.
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