The recent discussions by the Conference of Parties (COP) 21 in Paris looking for an agreement around climate change actions, the floods that hit Cumbria and the North West England throughout this month of December, and the long line of record breaking years including the hottest globally in 2014 and the wettest in Britain since 1910, have all emphasised again the need to take variations in the weather into account as we respond to climate change.
It’s not only an issue for politicians, scientists or environmentalists. Gardens in urban areas for example, can have a significant impact on aspects of climate change. Covering about 25% of the space in Britain’s towns and cities and up to 50% of all urban surface area, these gardens help to absorb rainwater and slow the flow of surface runoff which can overwhelm storm drains and sewers, create areas of cooler air that help lower the “urban heat island effect”, and capture dust and dirt in the air.
A survey by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) the University of Reading and University of Sheffield in 2013, found that two-thirds (62%) of British gardeners feel optimistic that they can adapt to the challenges climate change may bring, while 70% believe changes in gardening practices can help them garden successfully in a changing environment. A useful RHS booklet explains what every gardener should be thinking about when gardening to cope with extreme weather conditions. Gardeners will need to start adapting how they grow and what they grow, for example:
- Planting perennials rather than annuals – the root structure of perennial plants binds the soil and helps protect the effects of wind, heavy rain and flooding
- Taking account of waterlogging – this means spring flowering bulbs, delphiniums and lupins might need to be replaced with other plants or found different parts if the garden to be planted in
- Planting windbreaks that help to protect the garden from stormier weather
- Establishing water saving devices such as water butts and other water saving measures such as abandoning lawns that help to overcome drought and dry weather
- Getting to grips with new pests and diseases e.g. rosemary beetle and lily beetle migrating into Britain and surviving warmer winters by changing planting schemes or being more vigilant about pest control.
There is a lot we gardeners can do to “act local, think global”, it’s just a matter of getting our thoughts and actions up and running to respond to the new challenges.
It’s getting to look a lot like that time of year! We have been really busy here in the Genus packing shed over the last week, as the rush to get gardeners their great gifts of performance gardening clothes for Christmas got into full swing. It’s just amazing to think how much Christmas gifting has changed over the years. Something like 90% of people in Britain do some or all of their Christmas shopping on line. The average Christmas spend for a family in Britain this year is estimated at around £796 most of which is spent on gifts. As a national an incredible £16 billion of Christmas spending is expected to boost the economy. Whilst Britons spend less on toys and games, they spend more on clothing, books and sports gear.
Garden centres ring the changes, they no longer confine their Christmas sales to just Christmas trees and decorations, but, like our local Burford garden centre, hold Christmas markets and offer a full range of Christmas gifts for gardeners and their gardens, many of which you needn’t even travel to the garden centre to buy – you can do it on-line. The range of gifts for gardeners has really increased, everything from essential tools and accessories such as forks and garden trugs, through to novelty plants (e.g. a “grow your own beer plant” and “grow your own truffle tree”?) and collections of seeds, as well as items for managing the garden harvest such as herb dryers or berry pickers. Some are probably more welcome under the Christmas tree than others! The Telegraph spotted some very weird offerings including zombie gnomes intended to create a “lawn of the dead”, and battery operated heated socks (not sure how you would wash those)!
So whether an enthusiastic gardener or a gardening novice there seems to be something for everyone. We have to say though, that nothing beats our Genus gardening clothes and accessories as the perfect gift for the serious gardener in your life. Happy Christmas!