The record breaking weather we have experienced recently has affected our gardens in various ways, and we have to adapt to these extreme changes, so learning how to garden during droughts, deluges, arctic chills and heat-waves is a main priority.
Although many of our plants will adapt and toughen up to the weather extremes, for some it will be their undoing, separating the strong from the weak. But that shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying some of your favourite more tender plants, even during biting frost. There are preventative measures that can be taken during particularly cold and icy winters. We suggest using a frost protection spray to lessen the damage and aid adaption. Also, keeping such plants in an environment where frost is at a minimum, such as a shed with a window or a greenhouse, will help keep them in tip top shape over winter.
A greenhouse is one of the best investments for any gardener in this changing climate, and sowing plants inside and allowing them to grow and prepare before transferring into the garden is a must for veg and perennials.
The early summer in March, followed by non-stop rain in May, June and July, caused many garden centres to cancel their orders for bedding plants. Wholesalers ended up having to compost thousands of cancelled bedding plant orders, and the trade has still not picked up, as sales are remaining poor for garden centres this year. But this could mean good news for you. There is no better time than the present to go on a hunt for some bargains on shrubs, perennials and veg plants.
Whatever the weather, tender perennials seem to be able to adapt and perform well. Many of the salvias, including the dark pink S. involucrata ‘Bethellii’ and the blue ‘Indigo Spires’ seem to spring back no matter what. Argyranthemums are equally as good, and the pale yellow ‘Jamaica Primrose’ brings a beautiful burst of colour to the garden.
Plants with tall, leafless stems of colourful bulbs and perennials, such as the Verbena bonariensis, can be beautiful and useful as the naked stems give an airy feel and allow different plants to mingle closer together. Thalictrum delavayi is also a popular choice, as it has branching sprays of tiny lavender flowers and fine foliage. Dianthus carthusianorum has intense magenta flowers, and regular deadheading will keep it blooming from July to September at least. This looks well mixed with naked stemmed tulbaghias (lilac flowers). Alliums and eremurus in late spring and early summer are brilliant, and can be ordered for autumn planting.
Before you embark on your summer holidays, be sure all your plants are prepared. Soak all pots, despite if it is wet, and move them into shade. Deadhead the flowers, especially the annuals, so they will be blooming when come back. Harvest all nearly ripe vegetables to prevent rotten crops from spreading disease, and cut back any over long growth on trees and shrubs in case of storms.