The current spell of hot, dry weather has created a challenge for most gardeners - April was the driest on record and May is looking like the summer of 2018. A drought is a prolonged period of low rainfall, therefore the current weather could be defined as a drought.
It's a matter of watering less drought-resistant plants and making sure that plants you put in your garden in the last year are well-watered, probably every day. See the previous blog on drought-proof gardening
Watering the less tolerant plants in my garden has become a matter of keeping them alive rather than seeing them grow and flourish.
Prioritising irrigation is key, with new and establishing plants being the most vulnerable. While the greenhouse has to be watered every day - either in the morning or the evening to prevent a huge amount of evaporation during the hottest parts of the day.
The lawn has been left alone, firstly as it's No Mow May - an initiative by Plantlife.org.uk, which claims that not mowing the nation's lawns can result in enough nectar for ten times more bees and other pollinators. The first ever National Nectar Score for our lawns, all lawn flowers in a survey conducted by Plantlife combined, produced a colossal 23kg of nectar sugar per day, enough to support 2.1 million - or around 60,000 hives - of honeybees.
The second reason for not mowing is that the grass is barely surviving and leaving a reasonable height may well mean that it survives better. In 2018 our lawns were brown and bare but they always come back into full health - so there's no need to water your lawn.
Here is the state of the lawn now, although some of it is used by my three sons as a cricket pitch
Irrigation systems are in place, with seeper hoses to ensure newly planted beech hedging has got a chance, and to be fair to the chief organiser of watering (my wife), all the beech is looking fine, with leaves either out or in bud.
More of the beds have been mulched and compost applied which helps keep the moisture in the ground.
We do have a pond, that looks rather green at the moment, and we do fill up the watering can from that when possible.
So keep watering for all your worth and hope that there will be some rain on the forecast horizon. It looks as though, according to the weather forecasters, that there will be no more rain until June and we're on track for the driest May since 1896!
Expect leaves to come out later and flower periods to be curtailed. The roses are looking thirsty at the moment, and the flowering period is quite short, but roses are hardy enough to survive dry periods, if they're established, whereas newly planted roses need water. If your established roses do need watering then do it in the evening rather than in full sun (evenings are a lovely time to wander in your garden and smell the sweet fragrance of roses), Always water at the base of the plant, as a constant drizzle over the flowers can lead to balling - when buds are encased in a papery shell that won't open. Also remember to deadhead the flowers when they become scruffy.
With hosepipe bans possibly imminent expect to lose some plants.
Not only has this been the most extraordinary time, with lockdown and social distancing, it has been the most extraordinary weather.
Enjoy your garden.