Gardening Magazine

I Dont Care What the Weathermen Say

By Patientgardener @patientgardener

I dont care what the weathermen say

“More and more I am coming to the conclusion that rain is a far more important consideration to gardens than sun, and that one of the lesser advantages that a gardener gains in life is his thorough enjoyment of a rainy day”   Margaret Waterfield (Garden writer and artist)

As I said in my last post I think this has been one of the hardest gardening seasons since I have moved here 8 years ago.  However, always one to look for positives in life I have realised that I have probably thought more about my garden and how I garden than ever before and I think this is due to not being able to get on with projects but also consideration on how I need to do things differently if we are to have this sort of weather in the future.

Strangely, I thought I had always been good at the ‘right plant, right place’ approach to gardening but I realised last month when considering my front garden, which I have a love/hate relationship with, that I have been a bit hit and miss.  For example, the soil in my front garden is quite heavy clay and when the conditions are dry it can turn into rock.  At the front of the garden there is a large birch tree and a laurel hedge and these will obviously soak up any moisture there may be.  Therefore, it is no surprise that the three Cornus I planted to give winter interest and contrast to the white birch tree trunk aren’t doing very well and are just sitting there.  They are in full sun in rock hard soil so they need to move somewhere where they get the moisture they crave but also a little shade.  I am moving sedums and bearded irises into the front garden so you can see how wrong I had got it.  I was completely distracted with the design side of getting winter interest right and forgot the plants’ needs.

In the back garden plants haven’t performed as well as in the past, in fact the Dahlias just haven’t done anything at all.  I appreciate a lot of this is due to the lack of rain we have had all year but I also think that if I gardened better I could help  my plants cope with these conditions better.  As part of the big plans I have for the autumn and winter I am editing all the borders, moving or removing anything that I don’t like, that is in the wrong environment or doesn’t work with the scheme.  Then I am going to dig in lots of organic matter.  Finally in the spring I am hoping we will have some rain, unlike this year, and I am going to invest in mulch which I haven’t done before.

I’m not a huge believer in climate change in regards to human impact but I do believe strongly that the earth goes through cycles and if you look back through history you can see similar patterns of changes in weather.  I don’t know whether it is because since taking up gardening seriously I have noticed the weather more or whether the changes are more dramatic in recent years but we have definitely experienced more extremes of weather in recent years.  However, saying that I find myself smiling when I read the scare mongers saying that this heralds the end of the English Cottage Garden etc and we will all have dustbowls. You only have to read gardening blogs from around the world to see what is possible in climates far more extreme than ours.

So for me I see it as a challenge and not something to get stressed about.   If we employ good horticultural practice, work with the conditions we have and use the right plants then surely no matter what the weather decides to do we can have beautiful gardens.

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