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Talkback: Preparing for drought in the garden

Driest we've been in Bristol since 1976 so I am going to be careful about which plants I grow. Mediterranean type plants like lavender and ...

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Driest we've been in Bristol since 1976 so I am going to be careful about which plants I grow. Mediterranean type plants like lavender and rosemary and the grey-leaved ones are fine. I will have a good look at the Botanic Garden. Their South African plants like osteospermums seem to fare well in drought conditions. My five rainwater butts are all full after the winter but will be needed for my vegetables and flowers for cutting in my new raised bed potager. Murphy's Law decreed that we should have a drought when I had it built!

Luckily here in Bournemouth we have never had a hosepipe ban not even in 1976, but I have always been careful with water, I've got four water butts, two of which are plastic dustbins with their lids turned upside down with holes in, and I try to grow plants that don't need a lot of water. I don't use the hosepipe too often and I never waste water watering the lawn to try and keep it green because how ever brown it gets it always comes back green in the end.

I really like donutmrs idea for waterbutts definitely one I shall be pinching!!
We could always blame the weather man like we do in the summer when they get it wrong.
Adam Pasco
From tonights TV news it does look as if there will be a hosepipe ban in my area. So, when it comes to summer bedding I think sun loving pelargoniums (zonal geraniums) will be featuring highly in my selection.
I'm also following happymarion's idea and growing those beautiful daisy-flowered osteospermums.
What else? Succulents like aeoniums. Mediterranean herbs. More suggestions please.



<span id="sample-permalink">I've just done a post about this on my blog as it will be effecting so many of us.  I'm in the early stages of developing a new garden having moved house and plants that can really tolerate dry conditions are going to be high up on my wish list! Perhaps I should forget a traditional lawn and go for a wildflower one instead?

Mr Holmes
hiya,, whats your thought on automatic garden irrigation systems?,, i've put down a main feed using 13mm pipe then sprung off using 6mm pipe to hanging baskets&tubs also raised boarders will get a supply of water from micro sprinklers,, cheers,,

Where I am living (North Coast of Ireland) we often get a drought in early to mid spring. The rest of the year the problem is usually too much water! I live half way up a mountain, and the results of drought are quite frightening. Last year, a spate of mountain fires did a great deal of damage to areas of Scientific interest both inland and along the coast. Our latest big fire eat up half of the mountain, igniting heather, gorse, and the underlying peat layers. In mountain areas like ours the fire brigade can't reach these fires with their equipment. My husband spent six and a half hours putting out a fire that would have extended the length of a town's high street! It is foolish to tackle such fires unless you have lots of experience, which fortunately he had already acquired while living in Africa. The most deadly aspect of such fires is during high and changeable winds, but even in calm conditions smoke inhalation is always a danger. The best way to deal with a mountain or scrub land fire is to prevent it from starting in the first place. In wild areas people should be extra sensitive to the possibility of inadvertently starting fires during drought - and be awaire that drought can occur at any time of year including winter! Remember that this is the time of year when dead grasses, leaves and heathers are in abundance. Roadside barbecues, or lighted cigarette ends carelessly tossed out of the car window can start fires, and if you live on the edge of such land you need to be extra careful that your garden fire does not spark nearby hedges etc. Farmers, too, need to resist the temptation to burn scrub land in order to clear it for grazing or agricultural use during general conditions of drought.


Adam, succulents are a good idea.  Graptopetalums ( the Ghost Plant) go well with pelargoniums and are so easy to propagate from a leaf.  See picture of mine ready to give me dozens.

Spare a thought for gardeners in the West of Scotland who have had to deal with a deluge that started last April and hasn't stopped since. No publicity for us! I have lost a lot of plants to extreme wet and the slugs have taken full advantage of the constant damp and relatively mild winter to just keep going

We could start selling you water of course but best thing to is to get everyone to adopt your water saving measures.
I love pelargoniums but, since watching Sarah Raven's Bees, Butterflies and Blooms have renewed my vow to make an effort to plant wildlife friendly plants and bedding. There seems to be a dilemma: annuals and bedding need to be watered regularly. Can we be wildlife friendly and save water? Mulching is difficult between annual plants, newly planted trees and shrubs MUST be watered (planting in Autumn is probably the answer there) veg and salad need water....... another gardeners' challenge! What is the answer?
Happymarion I had a raised bed built last year as I have become disabled and can no longer garden in the way I used to. I use it for my veg, any advice on turning it into a pot anger? thank you.
Sorry, should read 'potager' not pot anger! That could be something entirely different!
I have dug up the lawn in the back garden and I put in raised beds last year for Vegetables I also grow potatoes and strawberries in pods...they were the only plants I had to water a lot last year but they have old drink bottles in them with the spikes to disperse the water and that helped a lot ...I have a couple of dustbins that I collect water in and often use my dishwater as well....good for killing off greenfly and blackfly at the same time.....Old established plants like rose bushes already have very deep roots and they will be the last ones to be watered as they seem to cope pretty well. I also have a dustbin for compost and one standard compost bin and a big compost tumbler and that will all be used to mulch plants that need it.I live in the East Anglia region and it has been very dry for 2 or 3 years now.

I have water butts that are fed by my down pipes front and back of the house and  a 3rd connected by a hose pipe to one of them which takes the overflow.  I only use ecover which is safe to put on plants to wash dishes and in the Summer I use a plastic bowl to wash up and when cool I use that or siphon in to my watering can to use later.  We are looking at a system to harvest bath water.  I make tea in a pot and put any unused cold tea on roses.  I mulch round plants, and put water retaining gel in pots/baskets. 

My biggest problem is my pond as the water can evaporate quickly and needs topping up.  any ideas there gratefully accepted.

I think people should be banned from filling swimming/paddling pools as last time we had a ban in the South east we had a hose pipe ban but people were still allowed to filll paddling pools-what a waste!



Cassie, to turn your raised bed into a potager should be quite simple and enjoyable.  A potager is simply a decorative veg. garden so you do smart things ike weaving flowers for pollinating insects to get nectar through your vegetables.  Make patterns with your veg.  Each of my eight raised beds will have  a wigwam with runnner beans and sweet peas growing up it and there will be lavender plants at the two corners by the middle path which will give a very fragrant walk up through the beds.  Alternate red lettuce with green lettuce, thread a snake of annual flowers through the veg. Dot verbena bonariensis through to tower over the smaller veg.  Get the idea?

I do feel sorry for everyone that lives in drought areas but I hate all the rain we have where I live. I'm sure we do have dry days but they seem to be few and far between all the rainy or drizzly days.
Well said, out of interest, when I lived in a small flat I was not on a meter and had no garden. i had a bath every day.Now I am in a small house with a shower, garden with water butt and a small pond. I don.t ever bath and only use rain water on my garden, i only top up the pond with rain water and yet my bill stays the same as it was without a meter, someone is abusung the system at my expense.

Kathryn.brock.  The water rate for unmetered dwellings is based on the old general rate which was probably quite small for a small flat so you were having cheap baths.  Ihave the opposite as my bungalow was highly rated so , now I am on a meter ,I am saving a great deal every year.

What is so frustrating is that so much water goes to waste at source, because the water companies do not wish to pay to improve the existing structure i.e. leaking pipes! Yet they continue to make a year-on-year profits.

I try to use 'grey' household water to water my pots on the patio. I did use the hosepipe once or twice last year, under cover of darkness. But I tend to use the watering can more because you get really soak the roots of plants more effectively this way. And again, I always do it at dusk.