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Survival of the Driest

Survival of the Driest

With autumn now settling into place, it is time to reflect on our exceptionally dry summer, one which challenged many plants and all gardeners. In many gardens, plants have suffered the consequences of the lack of rainfall or have needed regular watering to stop them from crisping up.  But perhaps you have also noticed some plants showing their true colours in the face of soaring temperatures and dry weather? With climate change, we are starting to rethink how we plant our gardens to ensure they survive not just hotter, drier summers but also winter wet with periods of heavy rainfall.

The Sitting Spiritually garden is a keyhole into how our future gardens will start to look as a result of the changes to our climate. 

Ornamental grasses are becoming ever more popular and for good reason. These tough customers can not only withstand heavy bouts of rain but will hold up to scorching summers and still look fantastic come the autumn. Deschampia, Miscanthus, Seslaria and Calamagrostis are all thriving despite little to no watering and some will provide structural interest throughout the winter. 

For flowers, the garden is currently awash with purples and blues from the Perovskias, Verbenas and asters who seem completely unphased by our dry summer. The Mediterraneans and Middle Easterns are also beaming after our drought - creeping rosemary comes down to meet the silver carpets of Stachys which sit sun lounging on our gravel paths. Both will provide foliage and texture for the winter.

We will be seeing more and more of these drought tolerant plants in our gardens, the surviving fittest, standing up to our changing summers and winters.

Along with the right plant selection, it is the approach to the planting and the garden’s design which carries us through the changing climate. In JarmanMurphy’s design, there is a high proportion of planted areas and these are dense enough in the spring and summer to allow for the ground to be covered at the hottest time of year, keeping the soil cool and the moisture in. The ground is also mulched every year in spring, to keep the rainfall locked into the soil in preparation for summer. In other areas, the garden’s mulch becomes a gravel garden, pocketed with plants to suit hot dry weather, requiring no watering. Perhaps most importantly, as our weather begins to moisten up, the garden’s hard landscaping is still free draining, with gravel paths and gravel/sleeper steps, meaning heavy rainfall can easily find a place to go and will not inundate our drains.

Take inspiration from the Sitting Spiritually garden and share with us which of your plants have best survived the summer #sittingspiritually.

Anna Sissons is the gardener at Sitting Spiritually along with her husband, Woody. She also works as a garden designer in Dorset and Devon  



Photographs of the Sitting Spiritually Garden by 

Heather Edwards Photography

Tel: 07725 000029

To book a visit to the Sitting Spiritually Garden Please Click Here

Posted by Siobhan on September 22nd 2022

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