Climate change 'will hit gardens'Call for gardens to be drought-resistant

12 September 2006

Britain’s 27 million gardening enthusiasts are at the ‘front line’ of climate change, according to the government.

Environment minister Ian Pearson said that in future gardeners will need to use water sparingly - with a can instead of a hosepipe - and be ready to choose drought-resistant Mediterranean plants.

‘Most gardeners in the UK will already know that changes have started. Some will have been struggling with serious drought during the last 18 months and all of us faced July's heatwave.

‘If the majority of scientific opinion is right, and I think it is, these conditions will become commonplace in the future. They will put our gardeners in the front line of climate change.’

Climate change

The government estimates that by 2080 the country can expect to see hotter summers, with possibly half the amount of rain we currently get. Winters are likely to be warmer and wetter, with rare frosts.

Ian Pearson urged gardeners to prepare for the climate changes so that their gardens can cope with the hotter, drier conditions of the future.

He said: ‘Preparing now will ensure gardens remain a source of enjoyment rather than a source of expense and frustration. And healthy and productive gardens will continue to help wildlife.

‘Gardeners need to think about drought-resistant bedding and perennial plants like marigolds, petunias or geraniums. Or visit a garden like Kew for ideas on what plants will be suited to our future climate.'

Drought resistant

The minister also urged gardeners to think about trees that will thrive in Britain's future climate, such as silver maple and black cherry trees, while sycamore, yew and magnolia are resistant to storm damage.

‘I should stress here that gardeners must avoid invasive species, species that squeeze native plants out of their habitat and thrive due to a lack of natural predators ... the quintessential English garden will have to adapt to our changing climate.’