Gardening for a new climate

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Climate change is causing even the most experienced gardeners to consider things like drought resistance, says gardener Pete Harcom

Start collecting seed from any plants you want to grow next year – like these nigella (love-in-a-mist)

Climate change is fast presenting gardeners with the challenge of making the right choice of plants in a changing environment – and trying to garden with less water. Choosing plants with a degree of drought resistance is becoming increasingly important.
When looking at water conservation, the garden soil is as important as the plant choice, as this will help to avoid the excessive use of hosepipes.
After rainfall or after having watered your plants, putting down a thick mulch layer of garden compost or bark clippings will help a great deal to retain moisture and will also handily suppress weeds.
There is a wide range of plants that can tolerate dry soils and low levels of rainfall, especially once they have become established. Look for some of the following at the garden centre:
Abelia grandiflora, achillea, agapanthus, box plants, bergenia, ceanothus, eryngium, euphorbia, sedums, verbena bonariensis, perennial geraniums, red valerian (centranthus) and heuchera.

And your jobs for July’s garden:

  • Deadhead flower borders regularly to prolong flowering – it can have a significant effect on how long you can enjoy your flowers. Leave the last of any rose flowers that produce attractive hips.
  • Divide clumps of bearded iris and take cuttings of patio and container plants ready for next year.
  • Autumn flowering bulbs can be planted now – try autumn flowering crocus, sternbergia, crocosmia, nerines, alstromerias, cyclamen hederifolium, and hesperantha (these South African bulbs can flower up to Christmas in sheltered spots)
  • Start collecting seed from plants you want to grow next year, especially aquilegia, calendula, foxgloves, poppies and nigella (love-in-a-mist).

Pest and diseases

  • (greenfly and black fly) and capsid bug damage on stems and leaves of young shoots. To avoid chemical spray, try staying on top by simply squishing them when you see them.
  • Vine weevils can be a problem at this time of year too, and can be especially damaging to plants in containers.
  • Look out for – and treat – blackspot on roses. It is very difficult to reverse the disease, but you can stop the spread by treating early in the season with a fungicide. There are a number of environmentally friendly organic products for suppressing blackspot including sulfur and neem oil. Do be sure to remove all infected leaves, especially those on the ground.
  • If you need to prune your hedges, check first for any birds that may be nesting. The main breeding time for garden birds is between March and August so maybe ignore the messy hedge and give them time to rear their young. Garden birds need all the help they can get!

Sponsored by Thorngrove Garden Centre

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