WELL OVER half of the UK’s most influential celebrity gardeners have failed to stop using peat in their own gardens, a shock survey revealed last week.

Campaigners are targeting peat users

The poll, for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, follows ‘green’ gardener Alan Titchmarsh’s admission that he still relies on peat (AG, 30 April).

RSPB researchers quizzed 27 star gardeners including Bob Flowerdew (GQT), Christine Walkden (One Show), Charles Dowding (AG), Helen Yemm (Daily Telegraph) Mark Diacono (River Cottage) and Alys Fowler (former Gardeners’ World presenter).

Almost 60 per cent (16 out of 27 celebs) said they still used some peat in their gardens. Just 11 said they used none at all.

However two thirds backed government aims to phase out peat by 2020. Celebrities agreed (85 per cent) that consumers still don’t know enough about environmental impacts of peat to make informed decisions.

Alys Fowler, who presented The Edible Garden on BBC2 last year, called for more education about the benefits of peat-free compost, saying it can be “just as effective as peat”.

“As well as reducing carbon emissions and protecting peat bog habitats, peat-free compost is a great way of recycling our waste,” said Alys.

“Just as we do not have endless peat bogs, we also do not have bottomless landfill sites,” she added.

RSPB peat expert Olly Watts said: “We approached people most respected by gardeners to get their views, and the results were heartening to see.

“We found that most experts were well aware of the environmental problems associated with peat and are doing their bit by phasing it out from their gardens.

“However, some of those who responded said the lack of decent, widely-available peat-free alternatives was a problem for gardeners who want to make the switch.”

The RSPB is pressing ahead with its campaign for a £1-per-bag tax on peat-based compost in the run up to the publication of the government’s Natural Environment White Paper in early summer.