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Climate Change, Drought Gardening - Kelvin Mason

As climate change appears to result in hotter and drier summers advice on how best to cope with drought was very appropriate. From selecting drought tolerant plants to using water efficiently there are many steps we can take to adapt our gardens to changing climatic conditions.

Mediterranean herbs with small leaves such as thyme and rosemary transpire less than plants with larger leaves are well suited to hot dry conditions together with pelargoniums that will flower happily all summer in the heat along with lavenders, yarrows, carnations, pinks and achillea. Plants from South Africa such as agapanthus and kniphofia are also well adapted to flowering in hot dry conditions.

When plants are watered it is preferable to deliver lots of water twice a week than little and often so as to ensure the water goes down deep into the soil. Watering is best done either early in the morning or evening to minimise evaporative losses. Whilst rain-water is preferred to mains water, recycling dirty water used for washing indoors is acceptable. Water butts should be installed wherever possible to collect and store rain water, and they should have a lid to prevent algae from growing. Stored rainwater is suitable for everything except for young seedlings which are best watered with mains water because it is cleaner. When using a hosepipe water should be applied directly to plants in preference to using sprinklers that distribute the water wastefully and indiscriminately.

To conserve moisture soils should not be dug during dry periods in the summer, and mulching with organic matter such as compost and leaf-mould, or with synthetic materials which will help to retain moisture and also suppress weeds.


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