Choosing plants to suit climatic changes of hotter summers and wetter winters

Choosing plants to suit climatic changes of hotter summers and wetter winters

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The Climate Is Changing

With the increasing changes in much of the UK's climatic weather gardening with plants that tolerate drier hotter summers and wetter winters are becoming increasingly important. The good news is that these tough plants don't need a lot of looking after once established, aren't too bothered by pests and diseases and don't require fertiliser. 

The key to growing any healthy plant which has a much better chance of survival is good soil preparation before planting with organic matter such as homemade compost or well-rotted horse manure to improve water holding capacity and improve drainage and watering regularly with rainwater. Fertiliser is not recommended as this can encourage floppy lush green growth that can get burnt by the sun or caught by frost. 

With the initial conditioning of the soil and careful watering, there is a range of plants that can withstand dry conditions once established.

Easy maintenance plants take a small amount of time to maintain, cost less in water bills, are easy to grow and beautiful to look at.

Geranium Rozanne, Daylily Burning Day, Salvias, Agapanthus, Atlantis star, kniphofia, Iberis, Rock Rose Sunset, Yucca Colour Guard, Tree lupin, Artemisia, Sedum Autumn Joy, Nepeta, Sea Holly, Verbascum, Perovskia, Stipa Gigantea, Guara, Pennisetum.

The silver and grey leaf plants are less hardy, so planting when they are smaller after the frosts in spring is recommended so the roots have time to establish before the winter sets in.

Using mulches

After planting put a layer of mulch around the plants to help hold moisture, suppress weeds, improve soil, regulate temperature, and give the garden a neat appearance.

Biodegradable mulches

Garden compost, bark chips, wood chips, well-rotted manure, leaf mould.

Non-biodegradable mulches

Gravel, stone chippings, slate, pebbles.

Applying at least 2 - 3 inches around the planting beds and borders is sufficient to block out light from weed seedlings, insulating the soil and reducing water evaporating from the surface. 

Why would you want a gravel garden?

Opting for a gravel garden is a great way to have a beautiful-looking garden but with a lot less maintenance. These sustainable plant communities, once established, thrive on natural rainfall and require no fertilisers or chemicals to grow. Given time they look as good as a colourful perennial garden with a lot less work. 

The concept of a gravel garden is not new and most gardeners will have heard of Knoll gardens, Hempreston, Wimborne, and Beth Chatto who converted a car park into a beautiful, drought-tolerant garden over 25 years ago. Her garden in Essex, England, thrives on 20 inches of rainfall a year and is full of tough, lush and colourful plants that grow harmoniously together. 

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