August: light relief

I could have gone outside and danced in that recent rain.

It really isn't hard to see why the ancients built monuments, devised rituals and worshipped the planets in an effort to control and predict the weather. My grasp of prehistory may have been unduly influenced by Asterix books, but I "get it" when it comes to nature and humankind: the stakes are very high. Back in the mists of time, climate change was one of the main causes of migration.

These days, our modern western society is largely impervious to fluctuations in the weather. Around the world, however, these can make or break rural communities. The big fluctuations are now coming home. 

So, with a brief respite in the drought as plants drink in the recent moisture, there are a number of garden tasks that will help reduce water stress in your garden whilst you ponder the bigger picture and plan your eco-friendly holiday! They will also help you make the most of what you have got:

  • Soak drought-stressed plants, especially ones planted this year.
  • Keep your collection box off your lawnmower and keep the blade setting on high: the fine cuttings will reduce water loss.
  • Don't panic if the lawn looks more like an African plain than a Hampshire garden. It will quickly green up again when the rains return.
  • Lightly prune Lavenders and Hebes after they have flowered.
  • Roses can be deadheaded after flowering, cutting back any weak or spindly growth.
  • Prune climbing and rambling roses that do not repeat flower, taking out one third of the stems.
  • Certain hedges should be pruned in August and, if it is hot and dry, in September too. This group includes: box, hornbeam, Conifers, hawthorn, beech, holly, privet, evergreen honeysuckle (Lonicera nitida) and yew.
  • Remove blanket and duckweed from ponds using a rake or a net.
  • When watering and topping up a pond, try to use your hose at a time when demand is low: early morning is probably best.

If the rains do come again this month, I am sure a rain dance is in order. 

If they don't, then why not do one anyway? Only your dignity, reputation and TV time to lose.