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I’m Sheena Harold, Chairman. Welcome to the Teddington Society. Do please explore our website and let us know what you think – feedback is important to us, and always welcome.

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• Street flowers destroyed for the second time – but why?

• Street flowers destroyed for the second time – but why?

For the second time this year, specially planted flowers under a memorial black walnut tree in Park Road have been destroyed – and it’s causing something of a mystery.

First were spring daffodils and tulips; and, more recently, a crop of sad looking Mirabilis plants have suffered the same fate.

But why? There seems no logical explanation. Could it be vandals? Unlikely. Foxes or squirrels, perhaps? Again, unlikely. So could it be… the tree itself?

A little online research reveals that the black walnut emits a chemical called juglone, which kills plants nearby. According to the Morton Arboretum website, nearby plants sensitive to the toxin show signs of wilting, yellow leaves, stunted or slow growth, and they eventually die. Many highly sensitive plants cannot tolerate even a small concentration of juglone.

So could this be the answer? Michael Minas, who tends the Park Road tree as well as the nearby Teddington Society plant container in The Causeway, isn’t convinced. “There’s an ancient black walnut in Marble Hill Park and the flora under it is thriving” he says. “I’ve been looking after the plants under our black walnut for years and I have never seen any evidence of juglone attack. The idea of the tree suddenly emitting a chemical to destroy the undergrowth seems absurd.”

Over to Craig Ruddick, Richmond Council’s Arboriculture Manager: “Yes” he says, “black walnut is allelopathic, meaning it can produce chemicals to inhibit the growth of other plants – but to the extent where it would kill plants in the pit at the base of the tree, I’m not so sure; we have black walnut in other parts of the borough where ground cover or grass is well established.” Perhaps, he added, the answer could lie with street cleaning and weed control.

So, for now, the mystery continues. The black walnut, opposite Adelaide Road, was planted in memory of Joan Freeman, a Vice President of the Teddington Society who died in 2015 and who did so much to ‘green’ our town. That makes the continuing puzzle of the dead flowers particularly ironic. “Even more so when you consider we’ve all been asked to plant more trees and plants in Teddington” adds Michael Minas.

• If you have any clue as to the cause of the plant failure, do please let us know.

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