While are gardens are closed, our garden consultant Andrew Peters is sharing garden tips and insights into how we work at Armadale Castle. This week: coping with a dry spring.
One thing I have learnt through a lifetime of gardening is: go with nature, not against. This of course applies to Armadale, as well as to any other garden.
One element of this, which has been the case in 2019 and indeed again this year, is the effect of a particularly dry spring. Whilst this can make gardening a pleasure and being in the garden a joy, after a prolonged period without rain the garden begins to suffer. Watering can help, but it’s no substitute for a good rain.
Apart from the obvious difficulties many plants face with little or no rain at the onset of the growing season, it can also affect what we do when in the garden. In 2019 on the top terrace at Armadale we undertook re-planting in a number of areas, and many times faced the difficulty of watering these vulnerable plants with no root establishment. This proved difficult on a steep slope, requiring a hole to be made at the back of the planting spot, and water slowly poured into this. This year we haven’t done so much new planting, but we still need to keep an eye on last year’s.
In an average year it would be quite normal to lift and divide perennials at the onset of strong growth, during April and early May. However in a dry spring such as this one (until very recently at least) it is worth holding off to await rain. As long as a plant does not have full foliage it can still be lifted on a damp day, divided, and re-planted as long as good rain is forecast.
The other less welcome prospect is that while weeds also slow during a prolonged dry period, they course do a quick catch up at the onset of rain. This is what we now may well face!
It is possible that we need to adapt to changing climatic conditions, and adapt our calendar of garden tasks accordingly.
For now, happy gardening…