On 4 July this year, 101.8mm of rain (that’s over 4 inches in old money) fell on Aberllefenni in mid Wales. That was not only more rain than I had down here in Sussex in the whole of July – it was more than I had in the whole five months from mid-March to mid-August combined.
Yes, until the last week we’ve been gasping down here, and there have been some plant casualties in my garden as a result.
For example, most of the leaves on my one and only Guelder Rose (below) turned brown and shrivelled. I had planted it in the hope that it would lure passing Bullfinches to the juicy red berries. Well, there will be no such feast for them this year.
Gone, too, my sapling Aspen, despite watering - it burnt to a crisp in the heatwave (below).
And almost all the leaves on my Alder (below) have dropped early. It is no accident that the three species that have struggled all like rather damp conditions.
To add to that, my annual flower mixes became quite desiccated and didn’t put on the showstopping performance I had hoped for, my pond levels have been desperately low, and as for the lawns, well, you wouldn’t have needed any green on your palette had you done a painting of them.
However, in sharp contrast, the June and July rainfall was well above average in many parts of the west and north, so I bet my problems seem quite alien to any of you in those parts. I presume most of your wildlife has needed to fish out their swimming costumes instead.
It all brings into focus the challenges we are likely to face in the future. The climate predictions for future decades for the UK are pretty clear:
For all of us with a garden and outdoor space, it will require us to change what we do and how we do it, both for ourselves and for wildlife.
Here is a 7-point simple checklist of things we will need to do in the future, and probably ought to have started already. Tick off with pride those you are already doing!
Of course, there is one other thing we all need to do alongside all of this list, and that is do everything we can to limit the climate change in the first place. The good news is that most gardeners are already playing their part – if you grow lots of plants that absorb carbon, if you travel less because you are always in the garden, if you reduce food miles by growing your own food, and if you consume far less 'stuff' than most because you're too busy gardening to go shopping, well, we salute you vecause you are already a climate champion!
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