As this long and very hot summer continues keeping our plants watered has become more difficult- with no significant rain fall for ages, garden water butts have long since run dry.
Many households have water meters installed so need to be careful of how much water they use, and in some parts of the country there are already hose pipe bans!
In times like these plants that are tolerant of drought conditions do well in the garden, and with concerns over global warming, maybe it is time to think about what plants we use in the future in our garden border designs?
Mediterranean and coastal type plants that do best in sandy unimproved soil or clay soil that has been improved with organic matter are a good bet. Shrubs like Ceanothus, Cistus, Lavender or Euphorbia Epithymoides will do well.
Consider perennials like Achillea 'Moonshine', Eryngium 'Bourgatii', Sedum 'Ruby Glow that stores moisture in its leaves or Artemisia Ludoviciana 'Valerie Finns' with its lovely silver foliage.
Grasses are a perfect choice and add movement and height to your border, Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light' or Stipa Tenuissima will look great. Why not add some herbs, the purple leaves of sage and the delicate foliage of bronze fennel will add texture and aroma to your design.
The late Beth Chatto wrote a very well known and interesting book called 'Drought-Resistant Planting Through The Year - A Gravel Garden'. This book has lots of great ideas and plant choices that you could use.
To get started creating a gravel garden dig over the area you intend to use and remove any stones or sharp objects. Add organic matter if your soil dictates. Lay weed suppressing membrane over the area and use stones to keep it in place at the edges. Using the membrane will reduce the amount of weeding you will need to do in the early years until the plants become established.
Next cut holes in the fabric and add the plants you have chosen. Remember like all plants, they will still need to be watered well until they have settled in.
Then add your chosen gravel. There are many different colours and size of stone that you can use. Consider using a colour that will compliment any existing paving that you have in the garden.
Once your borders are established they will look great, be low maintenance and environmentally friendly in terms of care. Add large stones or interesting sculptural pieces of wood to add some character and to make your border look pleasing to the eye as well as creating habitat for wildlife.
To ensure that you border looks interesting throughout the year leave seed heads on plants like Echinacea Pallida, and Poppy 'pavpaver 'Juliane' and leave cutting back grass like Miscanthus sinesis 'Gracillimus'. When the colder weather comes, and it will, these plants when frosted will look great silhouetted in your border.
Finally, we were awarded Silver Gilt for our garden at Taunton Flower Show - another great result at a lovely traditional flower show!
Until next time Julie