‘Climate change garden put to the test’

Primula vialii - photo: Royal Horticultural Society

Primula vialii – photo: Royal Horticultural Society

In April 2017, the UK garden charity Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) launched the Gardening in a Changing Climate report, which explores existing scientific evidence with regard to the intrinsic link between gardens and climate change, before recommending ways in which gardeners can adapt to a changing climate. “It was clear from the results of the report that people feel unprepared for gardening in a changing climate – they want to take action, but don’t necessarily know how”, says Eleanor Webster (RHS Staff) on the site of the society.
A ‘future-proof’ garden
This led according to her to the decision to bring to life the recommendations in the report by building a ‘future-proof’ garden at the inaugural RHS Chatsworth Flower Show in Derbyshire. “I took the idea to the show manager, who agreed and we asked experts at the University of Sheffield, and included garden management ideas to reflect the climatic challenges that are likely to be faced by gardeners in northern regions of the UK in the latter half of this century. For example around Derbyshire, enough water will likely fall across the year on average, but the water will fall infrequently during intense rainstorms following prolonged periods of dry weather.”
Species tolerant of wet and dry conditions
As a result of changing rainfall patterns, the Chatsworth show garden featured creative ideas for water capture and storage, as the average sized water butt is unlikely to hold enough water to last over a dry spell. All the surfaces in the garden were permeable, to allow excess water running off buildings to drain away, avoiding flooding and waterlogging. “We also had a rain garden planted with species tolerant of conditions varying between wet and dry, such as Primula vialii [pictured] which adds incredible colour and structural interest.”
Take a video tour of the garden [right sidebar on the PERRENIAL page of newPlantsandFlowers].