The Resilient Garden

 

Tom Massey's Resilience Garden at RHS Hampton Court
Part of Tom Massey's Resilient Garden at RHS Hampton Court

I've been pondering VP Gardens a lot lately. Last year's drought conditions set me off initially, then our harsher than usual winter combined with this summer's flip and flop weather means the thinking continues. It's a huge topic which I freely admit I'm struggling to get my head around.

Tom Massey's Resilient Garden at Hampton Court recently  tackled this topic brilliantly and was a timely interlude which gave me much food for thought. There he encapsulated the detailed research he'd found which informed both his show garden and book of the same name. I think it's one of the most important show gardens I've ever seen.

Another view of the Resilience Garden

It's clear the way I garden needs to change so that I have my own resilient garden. I haven't worked out the exact details yet, but Tom's book plus a couple of others (see below), alongside the rainwater management handout from the show garden's sponsors will help me do that. I've also discovered the RHS' Mains to Rains website, which has plenty of guidance at the more practical, gardener level. It's worth taking a look if you haven't done so already.

I have plenty more to say on this topic - far too much to say in this post - so expect lots more to come as I take my first baby steps into my garden's new world. I'll gather these posts under my new Climate Change Gardening label.

Has the recent weather and/or climate change changed the way you garden. What have you done, or are thinking about?

My current reading list

My current reading list

Thanks to Stihl for kindly inviting me to attend RHS Hampton Court as their guest this year. Without them, I wouldn't have embarked on a new series for my blog: Climate Change Gardening

Also thanks to ACO's Angus Crichton for speaking to me with such enthusiasm and detail at the show. It's clear that he's very passionate about gardening and rainwater management 😊

Comments

  1. The thinking continues, indeed. Thanks for the book recommendations!

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    1. Yes, it's something that requires a lot of thought Beth. I hope my new series will provide some practical ideas for everyone as well as forming a diary of my own experience

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  2. I think most of us need to start thinking the way you are!

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  3. I have, in our mediterranean climate, always gardened with plants that survive on natural rainfall. I water pots (roses and bulbs in season) also lemon and banana. My garden goes the other way, so lush I have a new toy - a chainsaw suited to a little old lady gardener ;~)

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    1. Like you Diana I only water my pots and having a clay soil is an advantage as moisture stays for longer and helps my garden plants survive our increasingly dry summers. We are tending towards a more Mediterranean climate here too, apart from this month!

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  4. I thought there were some interesting ideas and some odd plant selections - some of the trees are not listed as being climate change resilient according to the research on Henrik Sjoman This is a topic I have been researching for many years - and with our flip flop weather we need plants that can cope with warm, dry summers, cold and/or wet winters, late frost etc which does rule out of a lot planting options - I look for plants that can tolerate a lot of environmental conditions - sun / shade / dry / wet etc and that are growing from Kent to Scotland and can cope with all that is thrown at them. Also we need to look at soils more - resilience in the garden starts with that, and soil life esp mycorrhizal fungi plus the idea permeability to get the water in the ground and not running down drains and causing localised flooding. There's lot of think about and thats before we think about genetic selection

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    1. Absolutely Sally and welcome to Veg Plotting! You've touched on a number of things I wanted to say in this piece but it was going to be such a long post as a result, hence its expansion into a series. Finding plants that cope with our changing climate is one of the things I'm really struggling with currently. I'm on clay which means I have some resilience for summer drought, but many plants hate having their feet wet in the winter. I will certainly be looking at my soil as the starting point and I must get hold of the interesting RHS research I found recently which suggested Stachys, lavender, and salvia (herb, not ornamental species) may be more resilient than originally thought.

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    2. Just ordered your book too - thanks for your comment which prompted me to investigate further!

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  5. I haven’t seen a big climate difference here in Ohio, except that winters are getting milder, causing insect pests to get worse, especially ticks.

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    1. Oh yes, I've seen lots of my Fling friends over there say tick season has come early this year. Not quite what's needed! We had a very quiet spring here insect wise, some even called it a silent spring. Thankfully my butterfly count yesterday confirmed that insect populations are recovering :)

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  6. It was a pleasure meeting you at Hampton Court. This message comes with our very best wishes at ACO as you embark on your Resilient Garden journey and I look forward to reading your future musings. Last week I spent an insightful day with the staff at Beth Chatto's Garden, where Beth's Gravel Garden is an early and now iconic Resilient Garden. One of my big learnings from there was: just because Mediterranean style planting works in dry and well drained Essex, it may not work in wet Wales on heavy clay. Like you, we too at ACO are on a journey of what domestic rainwater management looks like in Gardeners' New World of Flood and Drought. I don't think there are single or simplistic solutions e.g. large-scale rainwater management products (counterintuitive if you work for a product manufacturer). Tom Massey's garden demonstrated a multipronged approach of planting choice, discerning use of rainwater products and above all joined up thinking on rainwater flows from roof level to ground level and below. Keep us posted!

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    1. Thanks for your thoughtful response and email Angus, I'll certainly keep you posted. I've been thinking about the rainwater gardening I saw in Hebden Bridge last year and have added that to my list of posts. I met Beth Chatto's granddaughter at Hampton Court - I need to visit the garden again and I have Beth Chatto's books too - they should have been on the list!

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