The Ashridge Nurseries Blog

Drought...

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.

 

4 thoughts on “Drought...”

  • Agnieszka

    Hi, I’ve just found your article about drought.

    You mentioned newly planted beech hedging in it. I wonder if you could give me a bit of advice in that subject.

    I've also planted beech hedge this year, quite late - in March. I had to wait long time until green leaves appear, but it was a great joy to see that it is alive. Last week I’ve noticed a bit of white powder and some insects, but I’ve read it’s a woolly beech aphid and it should make too much harm. Is that’s true?

    Unfortunately I’ve also spotted that leaves start to turning brown at the edges and then it develops towards the centre of the leaf.

    I keep watering the hedge approx. twice a week, but I wonder if this is a sign that it needs more water? Or in contrary, perhaps I’m watering too much?

    I would appreciate if you could offer a bit of advice on the above problem.

    Thank you,
    Kind Regards,
    Agnieszka

    Reply
    • Ashridge Support
      Ashridge Support 1st July 2020 at 6:29 pm

      I cannot find your email address on our database, so I presume the plant(s) came from someone else. Our first advice in that instance is always to talk to the supplier. If nothing else, they need to know so they can replace under their guarantee. If they have one. However, if you are really watering twice a week it is more likely they are being over-watered than anything else.

      Reply
  • Debbie Coles

    I'm a first time visitor and love the blog! I hadn't heard of No Mow May before ...... but wish I had. I did leave the lawn long until the last May Bank holiday Monday, but then cut it as we were bbqing in the garden. I noticed immediately that the visits from wildlife were much reduced - I had been seeing lots of birds in the garden, but I think the shorter grass meant fewer insects ..... I will remember next year! Grass is still greener than my neighbours, and I think that is down to shade for part of day from apple tree in centre, but neither of us water - as you say - it will grow back. Hope we get some good gentle rain soon. Debbie (Coronavirus lockdown gardening newbie)

    Reply
    • Mark Cadbury

      Debbie, thanks for your comments. We have had a bit of a drizzle today, but need a bit more rain as you say.

      Reply
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