Impact of climate change on our UK gardens

What could the impact of climate change be on our gardens in the UK? if any.

Keep calm and keep weeding
Keep calm and keep weeding

 

Gardeners have already had a taste of what global warming could mean with heavy rainfall and summer drought and the impact on what we plant and how we maintain our gardens.

Green lawn man (You know who I mean every neighbourhood has one, he's the guy in love with his hosepipe and box of chemicals) must have thought the world had ended, when told he would have to stop wasting water and couldn't stop his green lawn turning brown for a few weeks.

He's probably just as browned off now his lawn is under water.

 

If  the scientists predicting climate change, with more rain and warmer weather are right.  Gardeners especially in the South east of England are in for an interesting time. 

 

But, is it global warming or could it be nothing to do with climate change? Here are a few gardener's tips Just in case it is .


The effect of global warming looks like it could be both good and bad for our gardens.

A short winter with an early spring will mean earlier spring bulb displays and deciduous trees coming into leaf a few weeks early, good news for frost-tender plants. It could also make conditions for growing exotic fruits and sub-tropical plants, such as citrus and cannas easier. However, increased rainfall will make growing Mediterranean species, like many herbs which dislike waterlogged soil, more difficult. Spring bulbs and tuberous plants won't like the wetter winters.

Some of our cottage garden favourites such as delphiniums and lupins that need fertile, moisture retentive soil will struggle in the drier summers, climate change could bring.

Some plants will thrive with climate change.

Grapevines, pomegranates, loquats, citrus, apricots, nectarines and figs, plus a wider range of palm trees.

Increase in garden pests brought about by global warming.

 Rising temperatures would almost certainly bring about an increase in garden pests.

Warmer temperatures combined with more rainfall. The climate slugs and snails thrive in. Would mean an explosion in the population of slugs and snails. With the problems that would bring for gardeners.

Probably more serious though, until we learn to control it. Would be the threat of climate change creating ideal conditions for new garden pests like the lily beetle, rosemary beetle, berberis sawfly, red spider mite and new vine weevil species.

Fungal diseases would also thrive in the wet winter conditions, changes in our climate could bring. Phytophthora is already bad-news for our historic yew hedges.

Lawns will be at risk from the red-thread (Laetisaria fuciformis) disease, which thrives in warm, wet conditions.

How will global-warming effect garden plants in the UK.

 

Something to think about

Plants that could become rarer as our summers get drier, especially in the south-east, include cottage garden plants like delphiniums and lupins. These types of plant thrive in fertile, moisture retentive soil. Also, on the endangered list are traditional spring displays of bulbs and tuberous plants which will be susceptible to problems with wet winters. Alpine plants will also be harder to grow in the south-east, although gardeners in the north will be able to grow them more easily. 

So far in Britain climate change has generally had a positive on our plant life, with most species extending their habitats. 
Britain's plant life and particularly our wildflower meadows are realistically more threatened by the continued use of fertilisers by landowners. Artificially raising the level of nutrients in soils to grow whatever crop they are being subsided for this year. This is at the expense of and leading to the die-off of less hardy species, mostly our wild plant life.

What can UK gardeners do about global warming

 
There are several actions we can take, most of us are probably already doing some of them and nothing at all to do with climate change. Like installing garden drainage, planting to suit our type of soil, planting drought tolerant plants.

The effects of global warming might not be felt in our lifetime, if ever, depends on whom you listen to. However, if you are a believer, there are several actions listed below with, links leading to other relevant articles that you can start taking now.

 
  • Plant for the future, using trees, shrubs and hedges that are drought tolerant.
  • Planting  windbreaks will protect venerable plants from stormy weather, most of us living on the coast already do this.
  • Prepare soil for better drainage by adding organic matter, gravel or grit or install drainage channels.
  • Save and store rainwater, ready for the next time the water companies panic and introduce hosepipe bansWater shortage is likely to have most serious impact, with an increase in rainfall during winter, and summers likely to become drier.
  • Create wildlife gardens with ponds and water features for our wildlife in hot dry summers.
  • On slopes, clear plants that cause erosion and encourage plants that help stop erosion.
  • Choose plants that suit your gardening environment, drought-tolerant or damp-loving plants, depending on the conditions.

 

Conclusions

A warmer Britain will present both challenges and opportunities. If you are a believer, climate change is likely to lead to reduced frosts, earlier springs, higher average temperatures all year round.  However, Increased winter rainfall with flooding. Hotter, drier summers leading to drought.

Our struggling seaside resorts will make hay while the sun shines. Who will want to leave this green and pleasant land for two weeks in tacky Benidorm when you could visit Weston super mare. 

Over the next 50 to 80 years, green lawn man could be particularly affected with the traditional British lawn become difficult and expensive to maintain.  He may have to accept it is going to turn brown in dry weather and back to green when it rains.