Expect droughts – and downpours
If you have sown sweetcorn in pots and live in a mild area, you should be able to start hardening them off in warm weather, but don’t plant them out until all danger of frost has passed. Sweetcorn is windpollinated and should be planted in blocks of at least 12 plants to increase the chance of pollen landing on female flowers which will result in an increase in the yield. Space out the plants around 40cm (16in) apart each way. In colder areas, sow them in pots in a propagator four weeks before the last expected frost date. These pretty perennials look so dainty, with their love-heart flowers dripping off long wafting stems above fern-like foliage, but they’re actually quite tough and given the right condition will come back year after year. Among the best is D. spectabilis, which looks elegant in dappled shade in the spring, when its arching stems are hung with deep pink or white flowers. They combine well with lowgrowing plants such as mossy saxifrages and hellebores. Smaller dicentras such as ‘Snowflakes’, which grow to 40-45cm, make good plant partners for astilbes, foxgloves or tall campanulas. Dicentras can grow in sun or shade in most soils, but prefer a sheltered spot in partial shade and a moist soil. British gardens could end up devoid of luscious lawns, with popular plants proving more difficult to grow and plant pests and diseases spreading, according to a new report from the RHS and leading academics into the impact of climate change on gardening.
Plants will have to cope with increasingly warmer and drier weather in summer, but also more turbulent spells with intense, sometimes unpredictable heavy showers and strong winds.
The wide-ranging report, Gardening in a Changing Climate, looks at both the impact the increase in global temperatures is currently having on plants and gardeners, and the future of gardening as temperatures increase.
It’s the first in-depth analysis of the effects of climate change on UK gardening in 15 years and while the 2002 report concluded that gardeners would be basking in Mediterranean temperatures and so could grow more plants that thrive in bright, dry conditions, model projections suggest warmer but more variable climatic conditions.
The updated report has found that gardeners can expect more extreme weather, characterised by more variable, intense rainfall, combined with an increase in dry summers, which will be most pronounced in the south of the UK.
Gardeners looking to cope with the challenge of increased rainfall may have to adopt new practices to ensure the survival of some of our favourite plants.
Traditional plants, such as tulips, alliums and asters may have to be planted in raised beds to survive increased rainfall. The extra height will lift their roots clear of the water table.
Those experiencing higher temperatures may turn to heat loving plants, such as aloe or lavender.
Lush, green lawns are likely to be a major casualty and may have to be converted to dry meadows, as pressure on water supplies increases.
Landscape management expert Dr Ross Cameron has helped design a garden for the year 2100, to be displayed at the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show in June.
He says: “Keen gardeners have always enjoyed a challenge, and like to match their skills against the elements, but in future we may have to rely on more robust plant species that have proven their resilience against the extremes of the weather, for example, tolerating drought conditions one year and waterlogging the next.”
Dicentra (bleeding heart)
Drought could change the way we garden