Knotty weed problem is solved

GUARDIANS of an oasis of green in the heart of a picture-postcard fishing hamlet have today been rescued from a knotty problem after one of nature's most invasive weeds threatened the site.

GUARDIANS of an oasis of green in the heart of a picture-postcard fishing hamlet have today been rescued from a knotty problem after one of nature's most invasive weeds threatened the site.

Trustees of the Millennium Green at Felixstowe Ferry were told it could cost £100,000 to eradicate the Japanese knotweed which has been found on the land.

If they do not get rid of it - and by law they have to once it has been discovered - it would soon spread across the site and swiftly suffocate all the grass, shrubs and young trees by creating dense shade.

But now a Suffolk-based company has stepped in to eradicate the plants for free and will have cleared the problem by next year.

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Peter Doove , regional sales manager for Haverhill-based Thurlow Countryside Management (TCM), said Japanese knotweed would grow through concrete and tarmac and could cause serious structural damage to buildings.

“It is one of the most invasive weeds and very difficult to deal with - it can grow three inches a day and quickly wipes out all the other plants in an area,” he said.

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“I have film showing how it can force its way through concrete and tarmac, it is so strong.”

It was introduced into Victorian England in 1824 as an attractive ornamental plant but today it is reckoned it would cost £2 billion to remove all the Japanese knotweed in the UK.

“Its blooms are quite beautiful but its power is destructive - 0.4 gram of it on your boot could start it growing the next place you step,” warned Mr Doove.

TCM has agreed to carry out a special patent treatment programme on the Millennium Green to wipe out the knotweed in one growing season.

Mr Doove said the company would not be charging as it liked to give back to the community.

Tony Ratcliffe, chairman of the Millennium Green Trust, said: “We started planting young trees and shrubs on one side of the green to improve it and one of our trustees saw the ground plants that were here and became a bit suspicious - later his suspicions were confirmed that it was knotweed.

“It will be brilliant to have it removed because it is the sort of plant that could just take over and completely ruin the site.”

The knotweed is covering an area four metres by six metres, but to get to the root system an area seven metres around the affected site, to a depth of three metres, must be tackled.

Have you had problems with Japanese knotweed? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

FASTFACTS: Japanese knotweed

Japanese Knotweed is commonly found along railway lines, riverbanks, roads and footpaths, in graveyards, on derelict sites or anywhere it has been dumped, dropped or deposited.

It has large, oval green leaves and a hollow stem similar to bamboo - and can grow as tall as three metres.

Towards the end of August clusters of cream flowers develop and then produce seeds that are sterile. The plant dies back between September and November.

It will grow in any type of soil, no matter how poor, and develops via its extensive underground root (rhizome) network - a tiny fragment of toot will grow to form a new plant.

The speed with which it has spread to all parts of the UK has been spectacular, especially as it does not leave seeds behind but grows from pieces of the plant or root system cut and transported by people or by water.

Other invasive weeds include giant hogweed, Himalayan balsam, Parrot's feather and floating pennywort.

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