Planting in a Drier Climate – Tom Hoblyn – 9th November 2019
Tom is a garden designer who trained at the RBG Kew whose keen interest in the natural environment has been a major influence on the gardens he creates. Tom explained that parts of the UK, notably south-east England and East Anglia, are heading towards a more Mediterranean climate. By 2050, southeast UK average temperatures are expected to be 1.5oC to 3oC warmer. Frequency of warm days and warm nights will increase whilst frequency of cold days and nights will decrease. The duration and intensity of warm spells and heat waves will increase. Precipitation will increase in frequency and intensity, leaching nitrates from the soil. Even now Cambridge with an average 563mm of rainfall per annum is the driest city north of the Pyrenees. Gardeners will need to adapt to the changing conditions. In East Anglia for example, you may need to have an alternative to grass lawn. Achilleas are great lawn alternatives, with the added advantage that they are allelopathic which means they release biochemicals which inhibit the germination of weed seeds.
Tom said that one of the benefits of a Mediterranean climate is that 10% of the world’s flora grow in Mediterranean zones, so there is a huge range of plants for the gardener to explore, eg large shrubs such as Myrtus, Pistacia and Phillyerea.
Tom’s talk was very thought-provoking and shows how gardeners will increasingly need to think like ecologists, thinking about the conditions and what plants have adapted to exist in those conditions.