In case you weren't aware, today is Global Climate Strike Day in which thousands of schoolkids across the UK and many more across the world will show their concern for the climate crisis and urge leaders, decision makers and all of us to change to a fossil-fuel-free future.
As 'grown-ups' are invited along, I'll be attending the Brighton rally to show my support and solidarity. And while I was on my knees making my home-made placard, it got me thinking about climate change in the garden.
In fact, this summer has felt like a bit of a taster of what might be to come. Whereas I know many of you across the country have had something of a wet summer, here in Sussex almost every raincloud seems to have passed us by this year. We had just 36mm of rain in August, two thirds of the average, and just 9.5mm so far in September. It's the kind of dry summer we can expect more of in the future.
It means that my pond is lower than it ever has been, exposing muddy shelves and beaches. The entire area in the photo below should all be covered in water.
It also means that some plants in the garden are struggling. I only water things such as pots and young plants, so leaves on mature bushes like this Guelder Rose are wilting and desiccating badly.
Climate change will probably mean that we have to shift to growing more plants that will cope with heat stress and drought. For example, this Caryopteris (below) is one of several in the garden that are doing absolutely fine despite not having a drop of water from me to keep them going, and yet still they kick out plenty of nectar for the bumblebees like this Common Carder Bee.
Altering what we grow is all about adaptation to a changing climate, but of course today's strikes are about limiting the damage we are doing to the planet in the first place. That's where I believe that gardening is one of the best activities people can do. You don't have to drive to get there so you're not burning petrol; you're not out shopping so you're not buying 'stuff' with all the carbon footprint our consumer lifestyle involves. Instead, you're just tending the one and only planet we have, and you're even soaking up some of the carbon with the trees and shrubs and 'meadows' you grow.
And you're also creating richer habitats so that a whole host of creatures have a better chance of survival.
Part of combating climate change is I think holding onto hope that we can make a difference, that we can avert the crisis. As I went around the garden today taking photos for this blog, my new friend hopped out to see me, showing off his/her emerging red breast which a couple of weeks ago was just a single feather. This juvenile Robin was born in the garden this year, and was my little beacon of hope this morning that we can - and must - make a difference.
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