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Environmental Issues
Going Green

By Alan J Hartley

Plants for Dry Areas.



With our changing climate, that seems to be getting warmer and drier all the time here in the UK, planting your garden to fill it with flowers and bright green leaves in the Summer is not as straight forward as it used to be.

All plants need water to grow, but in varying amounts and at different times of the year. Bulbs are perhaps the most obvious plants to illustrate this for instance as they are often dormant in the ground for several months after flowering and if they get too wet during this period many will rot.

Some plants have the ability to store water in their leaves, such as Succulent type plants including Aloes, Agaves and Sedums. Alpine plants often have to grow in very harsh conditions that may also include a shortage of water at times. Sometimes this is due to low rainfall and sometimes due to the fact that many grow in the tiniest dusting of soil between the rocks that simply can’t hold on to much of the little water it gets.

Other plants such as many Annuals will grow quickly in a short wet spell before flowering as the ground dries up again. This can easily be seen from pictures of “Deserts in bloom,” where a brief heavy rainfall causes the dormant seeds of Annual plants to germinate, grow and quickly flower.

Some plants make the most of limited water supplies in other ways such as by sending down deep roots to tap into water that is unreachable by many other plants. The Linseed Oil plant is a good example of this, growing where no other plants can eke out a living. It is quite surprising how many trees and shrubs can tolerate dry and poor conditions because of this. Buddleias are perhaps the best example, because they can often be seen growing wild along railway tracks and amongst the rubble on sites where old buildings have fallen down and nothing much else will grow.

Many plants cope with a lack of regular rain by simply growing slowly and having tough leaves instead of the soft leaves that we normally see on most native British plants. Bay Trees are a good example of this, which, although they come from warmer climes are still relatively hardy with our milder Winters.  Coupled with tougher leaves some plants change the colour of their foliage to a silver hue to reflect the suns rays and others develop hairs to help keep them cool. This can be seen in many herbaceous border type plants such Stachys or Lambs Tails and Cineraria Maritima. (Do not confuse plants with silver foliage with plants having golden foliage as they need partial shade not sun.)



Gardening Tips
By Mrs FM


Unusual & Old
Fashioned Fruit


Herbs & Other
Edible Plants.


Books By
Alan J Hartley