Gardening Magazine

Well Washed Gardens

By Gardenamateur

Pam and I enjoyed a lovely night last night, eating a great meal while sitting outside in the thriving garden of our friends Paul and Jolanda. During the evening, Jolanda's mum, Elina, remarked that the rain that had fallen so plentifully over these last few days had "washed their garden" so it was "sparkling clean", and that comment really hit the spot with me. 

You see, it's one of my secret unscientific hunches about watering gardens and rain. All gardeners will tell you that their gardens seem to spark up magically after rain. No matter how much we stand there with a hose, or leave the sprinklers on, nothing compares to the wondrous effect even just a few minutes of rain can bring. What's inside rainwater that makes it so special?

Well washed gardens

Well, here's my grand unifying theory about rain's magic effect. As well as providing vast bucketloads of clean water to the soil, I believe rain simply washes the leaves clean.

I think we sometimes forget how "dirty" our urban air is. There's dust and dirt aplenty for starters, but then there's soot and chemical residues from trucks and trains and planes, and whatever awful compounds that lurk within the smoggy air we breathe. All of this lands on our garden foliage and covers it with a fine film of filth.

Well washed gardens

Rain washes all this away, the leaves breathe freely again and can get on with the main game of how they live: photosynthesis via their leaves. Leaves are plants' lungs, and they need clean, clear lungs to breathe life into themselves.

So, when I'm out in the garden watering plants, I like to wash their leaves as well. I like to pretend that I am not just watering the garden, I am raining down upon our plants from the skies above.

Now, I know the gardening experts will utter cries of "shock, horror" because there's a risk with watering gardens this way, and it's fungal problems such as powdery mildew, which are particularly abundant here in Sydney during our humid summers. So I do try to pick my days to wash the plants (and of course I don't do it all the time). I choose days which will be sunny and the "washing" water will soon disappear once the sun, once again, shows the world who's the boss.

I'm sure it works, I have no solid evidence whatsoever that it does, but that's my little unscientific theory, and I'm sticking with it.

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