Even though we’ve just had the wettest April in recorded history, most of Britain is on a hosepipe ban again this summer, in fact the UK has been suffering from long dry winters for a few years now, our climate is most definitely changing, and despite all the rain this April, the long term view still looks dry. Even when we do have a heavy period of rain the ground water levels across our country is at a historically low, and most heavy rain right now will do little more than dampen the top soil.
With the likelihood of hosepipe bans for years to come it’s time to consider redesigning your garden with climactic change in mind. There’s plenty you can do to maintain water supplies, water butts, and grey water and reed bed systems all come to mind when preserving water. However even this strategy will have its limits. Choosing the right planting for your British drought tolerant garden is a must, and here are a few sources of advice to help you on your way.
The Royal Horticultural Society offers a very useful list of drought tolerant plants here. As this rather informative article in The Guardian points out there are some omissions including the rather popular Agastache (perennial herbs in the family Lamiaceae, native to eastern Asia (one species) and North America). For a more detailed list offering advice on moderate to very drought tolerant plants try The Gardeners Guild.
Generally your planting choices should include more plants with thick or waxy leaves, and those with grey or silvery leaves which usually have tiny hairs or fur on the underside, all of which have a lower evaporation rate and are more effective at reflecting sunlight than more traditional leaves.
Dormant summer bulbs, plants with narrow leaves, plants with long tap roots such as evening primrose also help to maintain water supplies.
The fact is that many British gardeners will find it more and more difficult to grow more traditional plants in the future, it can be rather tricky trying to emulate the typical English garden with new drought resistant planting. If you’re out of your depth when it comes to planting design and need professional and sympathetic design services from a fully qualified landscape architect, please contact me on 01424 722271 or email me here.