Pete White, Head Gardener - Looking after Furzey in the heat, July 2018

Like many gardens in the south of England, Furzey has had barely any rain since the end of April, none at all in June and some of our plants are struggling. You can see from this picture that the grass at the top of the garden is already very dry. 

As our climate changes (there has been below average rainfall at Furzey for 7 out the last 11 years when we started keeping records), we have decided to grow more drought resistant plants suited to the dry soils on the higher part of the garden. These include Mediterranean species such as Cistus, South African Dierama and Mexican Salvia. These are currently flowering, lookout for them on the zig-zag path and in the areas in front of Furzey House. 

   

There are a few things gardeners can do to help their plants survive through conditions like these.

  • Improve the condition of your soil when planting, add compost or other organic matter and dig it into the planting area. Organic material in the soil will retain moisture for the plant.
  • Water well when planting and mulch with wood or bark chips, compost, well-rotted manure or even grass cuttings. This will help stop the moisture evaporating and help suppress weeds which compete for precious reserves.
  • Water newly planted specimens until established. A good soak every 10 – 14 days is better than a little splash more often. For trees and shrubs, consider leaving a hose at the base of the plant overnight with just a very small trickle of water flowing. This often more likely to penetrate into the root area than larger amount of water at one go, a lot of which may just run off on the surface.
  • Dead head any spent flowers, prune off any unwanted growth. In extreme conditions consider reducing the overall size of the plant by pruning back wilting growth, this may reduce the flowering but could help the plant survive until next year.
  • Don’t waste precious water on the lawn. It will go brown and look terrible but at the first rains of the early autumn will green up and recover.

We are lucky at Furzey that a line of springs runs through the lower parts of the garden, allowing us to grow moisture loving plants and trees and shrubs, keeping many parts of the garden cool and shady.

Our Hydrangeas are also just coming into flower to provide some welcome colour.