Gardening Through the Drought - info from the RHS
Communities Find Ways to Garden through the Drought
The RHS is working with communities throughout the UK to help them continue gardening through the drought, for the good of the environment, and offer tips on ways to respond to these conditions.
Britain in Bloom is now about sustainable, environmentally-responsible planting, not just hanging baskets and bedding displays. As such, the nationwide campaign will not be affected by the drought.
Stephanie Eynon, RHS Community Horticultural Manager, says: ‘We are not aware of any community gardening groups pulling out of Britain in Bloom as a result of the drought. Our volunteers are fantastically resourceful and never short on ideas of ways to overcome drought difficulties.
‘Environmental responsibility is a major part of Britain in Bloom. For years now, we have encouraged our groups to use sustainable planting, wherever possible, and this year, we have compiled additional information for all groups affected by the drought.’
Groups and schools are finding innovative ways of using less water to garden. For example, Julia Rackowe, from Bury in Bloom, said: ‘For our famous hanging baskets, we now use reservoir baskets which have a layer of water at the bottom, so they only have to be watered twice a week compared to once or twice a day as they used to be.’
Linda Cambourne-Paytner, a Stony Stratford in Bloom volunteer uses an aquarium pump for syphoning off her bath water into plastic bottles which she uses to water the local beds.
Jon Wheatley, Chairman of South West in Bloom, says that groups are not being put-off by the drought: ‘We encourage the use of sustainable plants that are drought-resistant and most, if not all groups, are using sustainable planting. Newquay and Truro, for example, mainly use drought-resistant plants in their bedding displays.
‘Methods we recommend to groups, include collecting water from roofs of houses, and sheds. We also suggest mulching as much as possible, which is a term that means putting chippings, or the like, on bedding in order to conserve water.
‘Dryer conditions enable more effective use of the hoe and this means that it’s easier to get rid of weeds – keep everything weed-free, in order to reduce competition for water.
‘Plants that flourish in dryer conditions include ornamental grasses and Mediteranian plants, like lavender and rosemary. You could also try and break away from traditional high-performance bedding plants using plants like Gazania, which are wonderful, or Arctosis.’
RHS tips can be found on the RHS website, but here are a few:
- Use drought-tolerant plants as they require far less water than fast-growing annuals, and the effect can be equally, if not more attractive. For examples visit the RHS website: http://www.rhs.org.uk/Gardening/Sustainable-gardening/pdfs/RHS_AnglianWater_Wallet_Images_FINAL
- Introduce water-retaining gel to baskets / use self-watering systems to planters
- Establish alternative water supplies – boreholes / rainwater butts are just two examples.
- Mulching – put chippings, or the like, around plants to conserve water
- Keep bedding weed-free to stop competition for water
Stephanie Eynon adds: ‘Bloom judges, both on a national and regional level, are fully aware of the affects of the drought and will take this into account when judging. They are just as interested to learn how the community has pulled together to face environmental and other challenges as they are to see the end results of their horticultural efforts.’
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For more information and please contact Ed Horne on firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7821 3356.
Notes to the Editor:
About RHS Britain in Bloom
RHS Britain in Bloom and RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood helps more than 2,100 communities around the UK to improve their local environment. Using gardening as a tool, volunteers in cities, towns, villages, urban communities and neighbourhoods work together to make positive changes that touch the lives of millions. To find out more, visit: www.rhs.org.uk/communities
About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s foremost gardening charity, helping and inspiring millions of people to garden. We do this at our gardens and shows and through our scientific research, publications, libraries and our education and community programmes. We are entirely funded by our members, visitors and supporters.
RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk
RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262